Historic Hotels - Design Bureau

Hotel St. Cecilia

Le Royal Monceau

Ames Hotel

Historic Hotels

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

by Jennifer Samuels

Ever stay in a historic hotel? Then you know that sometimes the antique furnishings, outdated technology, and ancient appliances make for a less than inviting ambience. Take a look at three that manage to balance the grandeur of yesteryear with an interior to fit today’s modern style and needs.

Hotel St. Cecilia

Location: Austin, Texas / First Opened: 1880 / Architect: Clayton and Little / Interior Design: Liz Lambert / Photos by Allison V. Smith

The Hotel St. Cecilia is named after the patron saint of music and poetry. “I once saw an image of The Rolling Stones standing in front of a grand British estate with a butler washing a Rolls Royce in the background,” says owner Liz Lambert. “The moment when rock and roll overtook formal society—that is the feeling that I wanted to capture.”

The six-suite Victorian home was redesigned in late 2009 and features the addition of several contemporary poolside bungalows. “The minimalism of the bungalows creates a modern counterpoint to the rich opulence of the suites in the house,” Lambert says. And keeping in tune with the hotel’s namesake musical inspiration, each room is equipped with a turntable.

Le Royal Monceau

Location: Paris, France / First Opened: 1928 / Architect: Louis Duhayon / Interior Design: Philippe Starck / Images courtesy of Le Royal Monceau

The world’s elite — including Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Madonna, and Michael Jackson — have come to rest their heads at Le Royal Monceau, so keeping its look on the cutting edge is a matter of necessity. No element has gone unnoticed or untended to in Philippe Starck’s regal redesign of Le Royal Monceau: paneled mirrors add an element of glitz reminiscent of the great Paris opera house, and black-and-white striped wall coverings create a dizzying effect in the hallways.

“All 149 rooms were designed thinking of the traveler, the poet, the musician, and the comforts needed for their inspiration; a sculpted hand holds a pearl necklace, love letters are abandoned in a desk drawer, and every room is equipped with a guitar,” says Sylvain Ercoli, Le Royal Monceau’s general manager.

Ames Hotel

Location: Boston, Massachusetts / First Opened: 1893 / Architect: ADD Inc. / Interior Design: Rockwell Group / Photos by BK Boley

If you have a bit of trouble pinpointing the Ames Hotel’s clientele, architect Fred Kramer of ADD Inc. has the answer: “It’s Benjamin Franklin meets supermodel to the max everyday.” A bizarre description, yes, yet strangely appropriate for the Ames. A notable modern feature of the 14-story building is the custom-made, all-glass shower in each room. “The showers are floating glass objects and are completely visible from anywhere in the room,” says Vickie Alani, who spearheaded the renovation project for ADD Inc.

Paranormal enthusiasts and practical jokesters will appreciate the Pepper’s Ghost illusions in the corridors. Created by John Henry Pepper in the 1860s, this optical illusion is seen as guests exit the elevator. Look straight ahead, and you’ll see a chandelier hanging overhead, but when you look up, it disappears. A spooky detail for an old haunt.

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