The Royal York
The historic Royal York Hotel, soon to be renamed The Principal York, has recently undergone a major renovation to restore its original grandeur and create new, show-stopping interiors to appeal to the thoroughly modern traveller. The work has now been rewarded with two nominations at the European Hotel Design Awards in both the ‘Renovation & Restoration’ and the ‘Lobby, Lounge and Public Areas’ categories.
Originally opened in 1878, the five-storey, Grade II-listed building is one of Britain’s most well-known railway hotels, providing guests a luxurious and practical place to stay in York. Luxury interior design house Goddard Littlefair worked on the project. Goddard Littlefair was established in 2012 and specialises in hotel, hospitality and spa projects.
Jo Littlefair, Director and Co-founder at the company, talked to Premier Hospitality about the ideas behind the new design and some of the hotel’s new features:
“The client asked for an interior scheme that would breathe life back into every artery of the space, giving both a nod to tradition and heritage and also creating a new and contemporary environment that would be very light and welcoming.
“Our idea was to design a modern and softer interpretation of a country house, with over-scaled furniture, such as large wing chairs, to create an instant feeling of welcome. Interesting and unique art and antiques help give the interiors a sense of heritage and character, whilst traditional, high-quality materials such as linen, leather, wool and linen velvet express both comfort and authenticity.
“Our inspiration always begins with the building’s architecture, location and context, together with our client’s aims and the needs and desires of guests. A sense of place is incorporated through, for example, artworks that we sourced, referencing York Races and images from historic society gatherings in York, particularly involving the Duke and Duchess of York.”
Most of the furniture has been bespoke-designed for the Royal York. The colour palette was chosen to create a soft and light effect. The addition of a large number of mirrors was done to increase the sense of space. They were custom-made for the project and feature antiqued glass set within carved, silver gilt frames. Antique books and old letters also feature prominently, as Jo explained:
“The antique books were part of a set of antique objects, hand-picked by us from antique markets around the country for this project, including old trunks and beautiful stone dogs for example. These fulfil two purposes – first to suggest heritage and reflect the hotel’s long-standing and established reputation, and secondly as one of several ways to ensure that the environment is unique and not filled with things you might see in other places.
“We came across a collection of old thank-you letters from the 1930s through to the 1950s in the General Manager’s Office, for example, which ended up being used in the corridor approaching the restaurant in the hotel, which was designed by Michaelis Boyd. Wherever possible, we have tried to integrate local colour and history, including architectural drawings of Castle Howard and other local stately homes, as well as antique maps.”
While convention would suggest working with such precious features would be a problem, the main challenge actually turned out to be working on the project in stages meaning the hotel was able to remain open given its popularity.
With 155 bedrooms and extensive event space, the Royal York provides facilities for a high volume of people and the renovation is already bearing fruit. The feedback so far has been positive with the new design being well received by staff and guests. The two European Hotel Design Awards nominations also come after the hotel had a successful night at the Visit York Tourism Awards, taking home two prizes.
Bernacca & Co
Bernacca & Co is a family run business have been in operation for 70 years and specialise in the production of luxury, natural stone products such as travertine marble, onyx, limestone as well as precious and semi-precious stones. They work with the best Italian materials at all stages of their selection and processing through to the finished article.
Previous projects the company have worked on include luxury residential properties as well as some of the world’s top fashion and retail houses such as Armani, Gucci and Burberry. They also worked on the high-end retailers Harrods, where Hall 5 will open in November 2016, and Selfridges in London. The have also worked on the opulent hotels Regent Hotel, Palazzo Versace and Ritz Hotel. Most notably they have supplied marble for Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. They were also involved in supplying marble for the Royal York Hotel.
Giacomo Bernacca of Bernacca & Co commented:
“It is a prestigious internal fit that used our high quality Blanco Carrara marble within renovation of the hotel.”
“Pride ourselves in being a family run business for 70 years as the company was founded by my Grandfather and is still run by my father.”