Case study: Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam

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Studio Proof redesigns the public areas, restaurants and bar in Amsterdam’s Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky.

Studio Proof has just released images of its redesign of the public areas and restaurants and its design of a new bar at the legendary Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in the centre of Amsterdam, now part of the NH Collection of five-star hotels across Europe.

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The Lobby Lounge

The new design places the lobby lounge at the heart of the plan. At a glance, arriving guests can now  see the elegant reception area to one side and the glazed entrance to the Grand Café on the other; ahead, glimpsed through full-height glazed doors, is the Tailor Bar. The previous profusion of columns – a legacy from the time before this area was opened up – has been rationalised; non-structural columns have been removed and others added in a planned manner, all uniformly clad in smoked mirror and dark stained oak, to create an avenue that guides guests through the lobby. An inset patterning to the large format porcelain tiled floor likewise helps in way-finding.

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The previous reception desk has been replaced by two custom-designed reception desks and concierge, relocated into a discrete area watched over by a portrait of the man himself, Wilhelm Adolf Krasnapolsky, who established the original hotel in 1855. Constructed from dark stained oak bases with magnificent white carrara marble and bronze counters, the desks are both imposing and practical, designed on the receptionists’ side with numerous drawers of various sizes for hotel stationery as well as radiators to keep staff warm on winter days. In 1927, James Joyce stayed at the hotel and went on later to “invent” the colour “Krasnapolsky red” in his novel Finnegan’s Wake. The brand colour of NH Collection is also red. Although slightly different in tone, this red appears harmoniously in pops of colour in the lounge.

The Lounge

The lounge area is defined by a large circular light inset into the ceiling above a circular rug; four rounded columns serve to hold the area together and specially designed sofas in between complete the curve of the space. The columns are wrapped with bronzed steel fins and adorned with dozens of inset micro-LED spotlights which together articulate the space with striking effect; the neutral colour palette is enlivened by high-backed armchairs in vibrant red leather upholstery. The effect is cosy and intimate; here it is entirely possible to forget that the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky is one of the largest conference hotels in the Netherlands.

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Executive Lounge

Thoughtful space planning has converted what might otherwise have been the redundant area into a delightful Executive Lounge overlooking Amsterdam’s Dam Square. Accessed from the entrance lobby via a signature full-height glazed door with integrated 1920s style signage, the lounge is a very comfortable retreat for VIP guests to work or meet while staying connected with the city buzz through the large window.

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Grand Café Krasnapolsky

If the lobby lounge is at the heart of the new design, the redesigned Grand Café is the soul, elegant and contemporary but also clearly within the tradition of noble European cafés. An all-day dining destination, the Grand Café extends the length of 36 metres along a façade with large windows offering views onto Dam Square. During the day, the space is suffused with natural light; in the evening, modern chandeliers create an effect that is dramatic and intriguingly geometric.

The new café is the result of visionary thinking and bold structural interventions. The previous café was just one-third the size but by relocating the bar, removing a mezzanine level occupied by offices and extending the room further along the building at street level, Studio Proof achieved a café with generous space and volume, rising to an impressive five-metre ceiling height. The new café is truly worthy of its name “Grand”.

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The café has been designed to lend itself to different occasions. Towards one end, a tall glazed pantry forms the patisserie and chocolate display, on show to guests in the hotel lobby as well as café visitors taking a break in one of the compact booths, perfect for a quick coffee and pastry. A custom-made oversize illuminated bronze clock presides over diners in this end; at the other end, there is a floor-to-ceiling display of the finest speciality teas and sharing tables for small groups. In between the two areas, the café branches out into a long arm accommodating a fabulous u-shaped seafood and hors d’oeuvre bar dressed with a marble top and powder finish metal trims and offering seating for 25 diners. A new floor-to-ceiling window facing the bar frames the view.

Flooring in the Grande Café is oak, laid in hexagonal fashion, apart from in the bar area where a custom-poured terrazzo floor is inset with polished lettering announcing the name of the venue with a gloriously crafted  flourish.

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Artwork, curated by Studio Proof, is a playful take on the old masterpieces. The palette may be straight out of the Dutch School of painters and the subjects dressed in full 17th Century regalia, but these sitters are variously on an iPhone, sporting golf clubs or vaping an e-cigarette.

Tailor Bar

The Tailor Bar, already garlanded as the ‘Best New Hotel Bar of Amsterdam’, has fun with the story of Wilhelm Krasnapolsky, an émigré who began his working life as a tailor before marriage and an entrepreneurial spirit led him to take over a coffee shop which he went on to expand and reinvent as The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. There is a specially designed rug depicting a tailor’s cutting pattern, the bar counter is edged by a brass ruler and tailors’ dummies accessorise the space. The ambience is vintage chic – huge antiqued leather sofas combined with rich blue velvet armchairs and a snug at one end with dark, deep-buttoned padded walls. Illumination is key. Lighting to the bar area is warm and welcoming, highlighting the natural variations of the brick wall behind the bar while 60 vintage filament glass bulbs are suspended “randomly” from dark timber and polished brass frameworks. For summer evenings, the Tailor Bar opens onto a part-covered cigar courtyard with contemporary outdoor furniture. The cocktail menu is under the guidance of Tess Posthumus, the celebrated Dutch mixologist who was named ‘Best Female Bartender Worldwide’ in 2015.

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The White Room by Jacob Jan Boerma

The refurbishment of The White Room required an especially sensitive touch. This is the oldest restaurant building in Amsterdam with many monumental features that date back to the time it originally opened. However, the restaurant, previously called ‘Reflet’, had become very tired, interiors were dark and the heritage elements faded. In translating this into ‘The White Room’ for acclaimed Dutch chef, Jacob Jan Boerma, Studio Proof has created a visual jewel. The simple white of the refurbished envelope and the ivory and fawn tones of the new furniture serve to elevate the restored gold and yellow hues of the original elements and the restored 19th Century oil painted wall frescos. Guest comfort is paramount, and both the crescent shaped sofas and the armchairs are generous in proportions. A slatted door of polished brass sections separates diners from the street entrance lobby; an entrance on the other side of the restaurant leads to the hotel lobby.

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Photography credit: Alan Jensen

 

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