BY NICKY SUMMER: Entrances and lobby decor are two of the most crucial interlinked aspects of any hotel design – whether they’re discreet or flamboyant. The series of doors to Hotel Costes (below, left), one of the coolest destinations on the planet, is enormous but each is painted matt black and would be fairly anonymous without the rope barrier outside. In contrast, the iconic red shades of Plaza Athenee can literally be seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower – and I know that because I saw them from there myself. You could walk along the mosaic pavement outside Le Meurice on Rue de Rivoli and easily miss the steps leading to the beautiful revolving door with giant sparkling chandelier hanging above – and I know that too, because I’ve done that occasionally! However, it would be difficult to miss the Damien Hirst sculpture and the line up of supercars outside The Martinez in on La Croisette in Cannes, or the gorgeous ‘statement fountain’ to the front of the Saint James Club Paris. So, every hotel has its own distinct identity and way of presenting that to the outside world from the outset… *Watch the video below to see aspects of the lobby areas at design-conscious palace hotels: The Martinez, Saint James Paris, Hotel Plaza Athenee, The Crillon, Le Meurice

There are several important factors for hotel and residential designers to remember – the entrance and lobby are the very first, and lasting, impression a guest has of the property and it generally establishes the theme throughout. It therefore has to be spacious, impactful, inviting and memorable. There has to be a significant focal point – often a floral installation, either on a table or plinths (as above centre at The Carlton Cannes by florist Djordje Varda), or alternatively a well-lit art piece such as a sculpture or portrait…

The portrait in the hotel lobby of founder Emmanuel Martinez is probably the piece I’m most proud of; it’s an honour to be the resident artist of such an iconic hotel and be part of the Martinez family…”

Alan Walsh, artist

Monaco-based British artist Alan Walsh created an artwork of hotel founder Mr Emmanuel Martinez (above, right), specially commissioned by Pierre-Yves Rochon, interior designer of the newly refurbished hotel on the French Riviera that bears the Martinez name. This work is the focal point in the lobby of the hotel that’s home to all the major VIPs attending the annual Cannes Film Festival. The Martinez throughout is the epitome of good hotel decor, from the entrance to the suites, garden, spa and beach club…

At Le Meurice in Paris, the focal point in the lobby is the 3 metre tall gold framed ice mirror (above) on which guests can write their own message as they pass by during the day…

Swiss-based British artist Eleanor Cordozo has produced artworks that are now held in private collections around the world; her three metre tall ‘POISE’ sculpture of a gymnast created for the London Olympics now stands outside the Hotel President Wilson by Lake Geneva…

Working with Mohamed Al Fayed at Harrods and at the Ritz in Paris was a rich experience; he was the man who really put my work on the global map. Also, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Geneva showcases sculptures of mine on each of the landings of their grand staircase…”

Eleanor Cordozo, artist

Some type of active feature in a hotel or spa lobby is always good – depending on the location and the tone of the hotel – whether it’s an open log fire, special lighting effect or a water feature – because energy flows best when there’s a natural element with movement involved. A blend of historical and contemporary references is good too, because that lends an established vibe, one built up over years; decorative plasterwork on the ceiling and/or walls is one effective way of achieving that. Below, left: The Martinez; Below, right: Plaza Athenee

Beyond aesthetics, hospitality designers have to take additional practical elements into account – for example the high traffic carpets are subjected to and the general ‘wear and tear’ hotel furnishings receive from guests – and their pets. Esti Barnes (below), founder of multiple award-winning bespoke rug company ‘Topfloor by Esti’ located within the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour supplies high quality bespoke flooring to top end residential and palace hotel decorative schemes, recommends the following to designers: 

A bespoke rug produced by ‘Topfloor by Esti’ can take upwards of twelve weeks to produce; machine-made carpet is often produced more quickly, it really depends on the quantity required…”

Esti Barnes, Topfloor by Esti

“Hotel designers typically choose an 80/20 wool/nylon machine woven Axminster quality flooring for the public areas, including corridors (as seen above right in a corridor at The Residences, Carlton Cannes). Digitally printed carpet can be most effective in public areas and it’s typically made from nylon or polyester to account for ‘wear and tear’ and for the ease of maintenance. Patterned or plain?  It’s a matter of design preference; dark colours and/or pattern are obviously better for not showing any marks – plain colours, especially when they’re light, do look great but can be very high maintenance. Public area carpets should be vacuumed daily, if not twice daily, and professional cleaned at least every 3-6 months, depending on the traffic. To keep a rug safely in position, we recommend the correct kind of non-slip underlay, and this depends on which surface is directly underneath it; we use different methods whether the rug is sitting on a fitted carpet or a hard floor (seen below at Rosewood Crillon) such as marble or wood…”

Esti’s advice for interior designers: “When choosing flooring a designer should remember that geographic location matters – carpets and rugs tend not to be used as much in warmer climates. Our ‘Topfloor by Esti’ natural fibre rugs are highly recommended for a fresh look in more rustic interior design schemes. The materials, including the rugs and carpets themselves, need to comply with local health and safety requirements. Overall, the design and colour of the flooring should ideally reflect the brand’s global identity. The replacement of fitted carpets needs to be carefully phased by the team so as to minimise downtime for that particular area of the property – for example, sections of corridor carpet can be scheduled so that it’s reinstalled in stages. Finally, maintenance of a quality carpet or rug can’t be emphasised enough, therefore thorough, regular cleaning, is essential…”


• Sculpture: Eleanor Cardozo – exquisite art-pieces that make a fantastic focal point in any room

• Art: Walsh Gallery Monaco – collectors art on the theme of racing and flight

• Rugs: Topfloor by Esti – bespoke rugs using the finest materials, many of them eco-friendly

• Floral Decor: Stunning centrepieces for lobbies, entrances and events by Ricky Paul:

• Scented Candles: Nicky Summer Bougie – a range of scented candles produced in France on a travel and destination theme Instagram: @nickysummer_bougie

• Wood flooring: Broadleaf Timber – a fantastic selection of wood flooring, contemporary or rustic vibes

• Furnishings, Contemporary: Davidson London – great for tables, consoles and seating (detail bottom, right)

• Furnishings and antiques, classical: Genieviere – chests, bureaus and objet such as carriage clocks

• Chandeliers: Dimitri Stepinov – An ever evolving collection of chandeliers on a grand scale

• Lighting, classical and contemporary: A wide range of chandeliers and wall sconces with shades in any colour you can dream of

• Lighting, online: Contemporary lighting from artisan sources all over Europe

• Mantles and marble: James Mitchell Marble – the best resource for reproduction statues, mantlepieces and urns

• Mirrors, decorative: Charles Roper – ‘jewellery for the home’ contemporary investment pieces

• Plasterwork: OVOLO – instantly elevating ceiling and walls for a historical vibe (below, left)

• Plinths/special objet: Decorative and functional plinths from any material you choose, and to any dimension


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