Architects and interior designers Project Orange have transformed an existing office building into a new room2 hometel in Southampton.
room2 Southampton is situated in the old port area of the city, which is the cruise capital of Northern Europe boasting over 1.5 million cruise visitors a year.
Coined a ‘hometel’ by the operator rather than a dreary apart-hotel, the concept is based around the creation of studio rooms that offer more and encourage guests to feel at home when travelling either for business or leisure.
The main intent for the scheme was to reverse and challenge perceptions and connotations of what a traditional apart-hotel product offers. Basic, utility and motorway service station are sometimes words that are originally thrown out to describe an apart-hotel but room2 is none of those things and is many things to many people – Room to Eat. Room to Sleep. Room to Cook. Room to Play. Room to Romance. Room to Dance.
Speaking to Premier Hospitality magazine, room2 Founder and Managing Director, Robert Godwin said: “This is the world’s first hometel, combining the comfort and flexibility of your home with the safety, security and services of a hotel. We have redeveloped an existing office building to convert it into a 71 room property, spanning five floors, with a mixed-use restaurant/bar/café and lobby space on the ground floor and four floors of accommodation above. The ground floor also features a guest laundry and studio gym.
“The layout of the existing building, together with the window arrangement, has meant that there are 27 room type variations across 71 rooms, each type needing slightly different interior design and furniture layouts.”
For the redesign, Project Orange stripped back the building and reconfigured the layout around the structural grid of the old office building, which affords generous typical room sizes of over 30 square metres. The removal of the former offices’ larger ceiling service voids enabled high ceilings and the inclusion of mezzanine decks for family friendly rooms that line the south side of the building, overlooking the adjacent Queens Park.
Christopher Ash, Director of Project Orange said: “The design for room2 is informed by what makes Southampton successful today. Without being overly literal we wanted the design to take reference from the seafaring history and present economic drivers of the city. Visible in the exposed joists and etched portholes of bathrooms, the mezzanine stairs, netting installations, cosy spaces in the bedrooms and the exposed mechanical services against the nautical tones of the public areas, we believe the result to be a unique, fun and playful sense of character that distinguishes the hotel from many others in the city.
“The obvious starting point for the project was its role as a port and association with great cruise liners past and present. Whilst this informs the concept the intent was never for it to become a themed interior. The nautical references are limited, occasionally literal but more often nuances – colours, details, materials and the occasional graphic. The design has a spirit of travel, optimism and sunnier climes. Departure and arrival inform the design.”
Bedroom colour palettes are split floor by floor throughout the hotel and offer guests’ choice between coral and turquoise schemes which have been coordinated through bathrooms, kitchens and soft furnishings including feature fabric – applied and whitewashed plywood headboards.
The principal design move for the public areas involved stripping out the ground floor to create a single long lounge that is both connected and separated, known as the Living Room. The creation of zones through permeable homely screens such as a fireplace and TV plinth leads to a mixed environment in which guests and visitors work and play flexibly. New shop-front style protruding windows and integrated benches provide diversity to the seating plan of the space and create a visual connection between room2’s living room and the park across the street, which acts like the buildings new front garden.
A core component of the Living Room is ‘the pantry,’ a well-stocked and open array of food and drink options to either consume in the hometel lounge, once served by a ‘roommate,’ or to take back to the room to cook using the built in facilities only a short journey away.
In 2014 the original room2 concept was conceived and in late 2016 a site in Hammersmith was launched. room2 was founded by brothers Rob and Stu who had travelled for 10 years racing boats for Great Britain. Tired of staying in soulless accommodation which disturbed their training, they set about creating unique, thoughtfully designed environments, run by people with real personalities and where hotel norms don’t exist.
Tile Fire Ltd
Tile Fire Ltd specialise in ceramic surface design and printing, predominately providing tiles to the hospitality sector. The company has been in operation since July 2012 and over the past six years has supplied bespoke tiles to a wealth of projects, from independent bars and well-known restaurants like Nando’s, to hotels such as Intercontinental and cruise ships including the Symphony of the Seas.
Most recently, Tile Fire Ltd was involved with room2 Southampton. Working on this project, Tile Fire Ltd provided tiles for every bathroom and kitchenette throughout the hometel.
Andrew Cousins, Tile Fire Ltd, said:
“Having our tiles be in such prominent positions where every customer can see them made this a great project for us to be involved with. Being able to work with the amazing team at project Orange was a brilliant experience.”
“At Tile Fire Ltd, we pride ourselves on our customer service treating each customer the same, no matter the size.”