Andreas Neudahm is one of Europe’s most highly-regarded hotel designers.
Now boasting a 30-strong team (headquartered in Wuppertal in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), Andreas has designed hundreds of hotels for many of the biggest brands across the continent since 1989.
He led the design project for the new Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh from start to finish, taking many cues from Edinburgh and Scottish landscapes and landmarks.
Here’s his interview:
How long have you worked in the hotel design industry?
I designed my first major hotel 28 years ago not long after graduating from design school.
When did you begin working with Leonardo Hotels? What most interested you in the company?
David Fattal (Leonardo Hotels Founder) became aware of my previous work with some of the big multinational groups and tasked me with refurbishing a hotel and creating a distinct brand that takes strong design cues from each and every location – yet remain unmistakably Leonardo.
How many Leonardo Hotels have you designed in total?
At the rate they are opening it is difficult to keep up! My team and I have now designed more than 90 hotels for Leonardo and Fattal Group alone.
How do you design a hotel?
I spend a few days simply being a tourist, taking in as much as I can. I even think it helps not being from the place I am designing the hotel in – as you see it all with fresh perspective. I then make sure that is reflected throughout the design – from major themes to small details.
What is vital to the design process?
Next stage I focus on separate sections nearly always starting with the customer’s first impression and the lobby area – as well as the bar, which has to be the heart of the hotel. For me these are where the lasting impressions are made, so from a design perspective are the most important.
My background is in carpentry and furniture, so I put functionality at the forefront. At the end of the day a hotel has to be practical, it has to work and it has to make money!
Too often I see designers designing for design’s sake – creating something that looks beautiful but doesn’t pay enough attention to the comfort of the customer or the business of the hotel.
Where do you pull inspiration from when designing? Are you influenced by any other designers?
I don’t look to any other designers for inspiration, I’m much more likely to be influenced by what I see around me – when I’m not in hotels of course!
I also make sure to stay away from obvious trends, keeping a look that is timeless and accessible for all. I want hipsters to relate to it while at the same time an Octogenarian couple will feel comfortable. It is always a balancing act.
Each Leonardo Hotel is unique to its location. What aspects of/inspirations from the city can we expect to see in the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh?
We have touches throughout, with the iconic view from Calton Hill above each bed, visuals of the Royal Botanical Gardens and images of pipers and kilts ensuring that the customer doesn’t forget for one moment that they are in the Scottish capital!
I haven’t kept solely to Edinburgh for inspiration, we have images of the dramatic west coast of Scotland throughout and touches of the famous Scottish countryside dotted around. This creates a very homely feel, rustic, with tartans and tweeds.
The famous Leonardo tall-back chairs are even covered in Tartan. I did not realise each tartan originally belonged to specific families and clans – I hope they don’t mind us using them!
What is your favourite room/space/part of the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh?
At every hotel I design my primary focus is the bar. As I mentioned it is the heart of the hotel in my opinion and I especially love the example here in Edinburgh.
There are hidden images of salmon within the marble effect, matched by tiles reminiscent of a fish market. The light-shades are untreated oak and it ties together very nicely with the furniture around it. It encapsulates exactly the approach I wanted to take – and I hope visitors like some of these small touches.
The Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh is aiming to appeal to both leisure guests, given its location near to tram and train stops, as well as Edinburgh’s ever-growing corporate and business tourism market – fuelled by its proximity to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and the under-construction Haymarket development. The hotel also offers more than 90 parking spaces.
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