The Fellows House Cambridge, Curio Collection by Hilton, has unveiled the interior design of its public and guest areas.
Conceived by hospitality design practice, twenty2degrees, the design narrative is inspired by the influences behind The Fellows House brand. Sometimes thought-provoking, often playful and always layered to feed guest curiosity, this can be seen in the choice of furnishings and finishes and the juxtaposition of the classic and modern. Above all, the story is told through bespoke artwork and carefully curated accessories that are seldom quite what they appear to be at first glance.
The plan for the ground floor is a sequence of zoned spaces flowing from the reception lobby to The Folio Bar and, from here, onto The Folio Kitchen restaurant which opens to The Fellows Garden, a courtyard space reminiscent of college quads, with terrace dining and The Observatory snug.
The garden is also overlooked by a wellness centre with indoor pool and an events room that hosts a triptych of Stephen Hawking photographs overlaid with theories taken from his Cambridge thesis.
Situated just inside the main entrance to The Fellows House and with its own street entrance, The Sage of Cambridge is a café intended every bit as much for the locals as for hotel guests. Its gleaming marble surfaces, comfortable bistro-style chairs and jaunty original artwork are all designed to catch the eye and attract customers in for a morning coffee, a spot of co-working or a light lunch.
As dusk falls, the ambience changes and the café becomes a space ideal for meeting friends over aperitifs as the lights are dimmed and the custom-designed bar allows staff to easily convert it from daytime service into a glowing cocktail bar.
“The question for the design team was how to infuse the spirit of the fellows and the soul of Cambridge into a narrative of layered meaning. The journey we went on to achieve this was fascinating and working closely with a very well-informed and passionate client was a huge pleasure”
Occupying the centre of the ground floor plan and hidden from street view, The Folio Bar has the ambience of a private members’ club but one without doors, that is open to all. This is an extravagantly layered space where materiality, texture, lighting and carefully framed views create a feast for the eye in which infinite reflections caught in antiqued mirror amplify the drama.
The Folio Kitchen, meanwhile, is both refined and playful, nicely complementing the menu which features homely British classics served with a twist. While flowing directly from The Folio Bar, the restaurant offers a step-change in ambience. It is a light-filled space thanks to a large roof lantern and a fully glazed wall at one end which opens onto the garden and takes guests from the indoor retreat of the ground floor into an outdoor universe where artworks muse on worlds beyond.
The Folio Kitchen combines the contemporary and classic within a fresh and inviting colour palette. Walls and columns are clad in whitewashed brick and the accent colour is Cambridge Blue with punches of ochre orange in the leather upholstery.
A Calacatta marble sharing table together with marble topped dining tables are elegant and sophisticated. They also provide a counterpoint to the traditional millwork of the roof lantern recess and the timber banquets as well as the geometric black and white tiling to the floor, all of which are a nod to historic Cambridge.
Certain elements are drawn through from the rest of the public areas. Antiqued mirror continues to play an important role in capturing design vignettes and adding drama to the space while original artworks are key to the storytelling. A romantic poem written nearly 100 years ago by a Chinese student and a leader of China’s New Culture Movement becomes a collection of framed love notes to Cambridge abstracted into handwritten texts, modern re-workings of Chinese symbols and laser cut lettering.
In The Fellows Garden, a metal sculpture, celebrating the work of fellow Sir John Hershel in astronomy, photography and music, is curious and engaging while, in The Observatory snug, typography portraits of Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Sir Antony Gormley are reminders of Cambridge fellows who, in their different ways, have challenged our awareness of space.
In terms of guest accommodation, the aesthetic within the 131 apartments is contemporary and pared-back. Pale timber floors and a monochrome colour palette are paired with marble topped tables and dark timber features and furniture. Punches of colour are introduced in the framed antique-style Cambridge maps which pay homage to alumni and fellows, Charles Darwin, Henry Cavendish, John Flamsteed and Siegfried Sassoon.
Nick Stoupas, Founder & Managing Director of twenty2degrees, says: “Creating a new and different hotel in a city seeped in history and academic significance was very special. The question for the design team was how to infuse the spirit of the fellows and the soul of Cambridge into a narrative of layered meaning. The journey we went on to achieve this was fascinating and working closely with a very well-informed and passionate client was a huge pleasure.”