The Do's and Don'ts of Boutique Hotel Interior Design.
By Nathalie Salas
Thursday, 16th January 2014
I'd like to introduce Angela Dingle, an interior designer and owner of  Hughan Design, she's is a big fan of all things boutique so I was curious to find out her opinions on boutique hotel interior design and her tips for hotel owners on the do's and don'ts of hotel interior design.

After graduating in Interior Design from Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK, Angela went on to work on a variety of refurbishments in the leisure industry before moving to the Middle East.

It was during this time that she worked on a number of prestigious projects, including the Missoni Hotel on Palm Island and Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai; several Michelin Star acclaimed restaurants; and various high-end residential projects. 

In 2010, Angela founded Hughan Design with the aim to provide a comprehensive and creative design service for international hoteliers, property developers and private clients.

What are your key points of difference as an interior designer?

As a designer, I do not conform to the latest style or trends when creating an Interior. I believe every project we work on is different, dictated by the architecture, surroundings and form of the building. I like to emphasise the quality of the detailing, lighting and circulation rather than the latest fad in wall covering or soft furnishings. This gives the project longevity and breathes individuality -two essential qualities for a luxury boutique hotel.
4Hoteliers Image Library
Angela Dingla, interior design and owner of Hughan Design

How would your design differ between a boutique and lifestyle hotel?

Boutique Hotels are all about luxury and individuality. They are a sanctuary within a densely populated environment. It is all about the detail, quality of finishes and eclectic style. I like to create intimacy by use of low-level lighting, rich coloured fabrics and warm, inviting spaces.

When we talk about lifestyle hotels, I feel these are at the opposite end of the spectrum to the boutique hotel market. These are places to be seen in. They use cutting edge technology and have a sharp, contemporary feel to them. When designing, I like to use open plan spaces, edgy fabrics and a contemporary style of furnishings and fixtures.

What key areas of design would you advise hotel owners not to cut costs and why?

Lighting design is extremely important in designing an interior. If you get this right you can create a multitude of ambiances as required day and night. I always employ a specialist lighting designer for this which will in the long-run save you money.

I also think that owners should always invest in high-quality furniture and fixtures. This is paramount for the longevity of the hotel.

What are the three biggest mistakes that owners make when embarking on an interior design for their hotel?

  • Personal taste - One of the most common mistakes is designing around their own personal taste palate. When designing a commercial environment, you have to put yourself into the shoes of the customer rather than what you personally like. Define who your customer base is and create your design brief to suit them, not yourself.
  • Not preparing a design brief  - You need to create a clear and concise design brief.  This is rather like a business plan, but for the design of your hotel. It covers everything from the required style, individual room types, and bedroom requirements. If you invest time on this early on in the project, it will save you a lot of time and money. It can be used as a benchmark document throughout the project and help avoid you straying off the core values of the hotel.
  • Poor-quality furnishings  - You have to use commercially viable soft furnishings. Fabrics require suitable 'rub' tests for their use and furniture needs to be of a commercial make-up. If you use domestic residential items, they will not stand the test of time and you will end up spending more by having to replace them in 2-3 years time.
From your personal perspective, what attracts you to staying in a boutique hotel?

I love the individuality that boutique hotels bring. For me, it is the personal service they offer without the commercial air of the larger hotel chains. It is their eclectic style which tells a story of the history of the hotel or owner. This could include individual pieces of art or sculptures, antique furniture or even a pair of beautiful curtain ties collected by the owner.  Boutique hotels also tend to be smaller in size than hotel chain. This helps create a feeling of intimacy and eliminates the need for long sterilised corridors leading to the bedrooms, often found in the larger hotel group properties.

What are your two favourite boutique hotels and what do you find unique about them?

4Hoteliers Image LibrarySt. James Hotel & Club - London, United Kingdom
For me this is the epitome of a boutique hotel.

Tucked away in a secluded corner of central London, it has a timeless elegance and intimacy, boasting sumptuous fabrics and finishes.

It has many personal touches such as the drinks station at the door leading to St. James Park for joggers, a personal art collection which is displayed throughout the hotel and an intimate dining area for its Michelin Star restaurant.

Château les Merles - Dordogne, France
This country chic château nestled in the heart of the Dordogne, is one of my absolute favourite boutique hotels.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThe style is simple, yet chic and is teamed perfectly with the original character of the building.

Dark wood, antiques, lots of white upholstery, crisp snowy linens and huge windows prevail in this hotel, with personal touches such as black satin slippers in special boxes lying next to the bed, and a silver bowl of berries from the château's organic garden in the room.

The restaurant and bistro breathe freshness and simplicity with a neutral palate of colours both in the fabrics and wall finish. This works perfectly with the exposed timber beams, conserved from when it was originally a barn.

Hughan Design - Tel: +44 (0)7525 021925, www.hughandesign.com You can also follow Angela on Twitter @hughandesign.

Nathalie Salas stated her career in the banking industry working in marketing and communications for global banking institutions in London and Dubai.  After turning freelance, she continued to work for clients in the Middle East, UK and Italy helping small businesses improve their marketing and branding on an international level.  Her move to Italy was what sparked her passion for hospitality and boutique hotels.  Combined with over 15 years of constant global travelling, Perfect Boutique Hotel was created to capture in one place all of her hotel experiences.
Nathalie is a Chartered Marketer from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK and is also pursuing an MBA in International Hospitality and Service Industries Management at the Glion Institute of Higher Education.

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