Photography: Luuk Huiskes.
Hotel Alexander is a charming boutique hotel in the centre of Amsterdam with 35 rooms divided between two characteristic town houses built in 1870 by the renowned Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers. Muurbloem design studio was assigned the tast of renovating the rooms and lobby.
In the Spring of 2019 Muurbloem design studio obtained the order for making a design for the interior remodelling of these two townhouses on the Vondelstraat. By way of an in-depth interview, Muurbloem gained insight in the demands and wishes of the owners. The main question of these talks was to discover the answer to the question—which story needs to be told? The owners main wish was to raise the ADR as well as to explore the possiblity of increasing the number of rooms. These interviews revealed the incredible passion of the owners to receive their guests and to make them feel at home. An image emerged of the friendly hotelier who welcomes his guests to a homely environment where he uses his rich knowledges of the city to give them the ultimate experience of Amsterdam.
After an extensive analysis of the corporate identity—what are the existing brand values?—as well as further interviews with the team, Muurbloem developed an advise for a new business strategy—the what is needed to tell the story of the hotelier? By adressing a target audience in a higher segment of the market—the so-called Culture Lovers—the hotel could raise their ADR. However, this means that the owners also needed to implement a new way of interacting with their guests by curating a custom selection of cultural activities and showing these activities in an environment that is suitable to this new target group. Based on this vision, Muurbloem design studio created a conceptual script with moodboards and target group analyses. Furthermore, all functional demands were explicated in a measurable way in a schedule of requirements. These two documents informed decision-making further on in the design process.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, a baseline measurement was carried out in which the existing building (including the techincal installations) was re-measured and appraised. Based on this measurement, new floor plans were drawn up as well as a report on the state of said technical installations. This baseline measurement formed the blueprint for the test fit in which Muurbloem looked at the feasibility of the plans. Does the schedule of requirements physically fit into the building? Are the existing technical installations sufficient for the intended capacity? Do the renovation plans fit into the zoning plan? And is it all financially feasible? For this last aspect, Muurbloem drew up a complete calculation with three different scenarios, so that the owners of Hotel Alexander had all the essential information available to see whether the investment fits in the existing business plan and to make a responsible decision about the budget.
Following the test fit and discussions with the bank, the clients decided that only a limited budget was available for the renovation of Hotel Alexander and that the desired modifications could therefore not be carried out in short term. At the advice of Muurbloem, the owners have decided to do a touch up of their interior — a renovation on a limited budget that slightly extends the interior's life cycle. Of course this proved to be no challenge as the Muurbloem design team knows a wide variety of strategies to completely transform spaces on a limited budget!
At the beginning of October 2019, Muurbloem design studio received the order for touching up the interior of Hotel Alexander. Based on the aforementioned conceptual scenario, a new preliminary design was made, accompanied by a new calculation. The project involved painting all the rooms and the lobby, refurbishing the lobby, and replacing the armchairs, upholstery and accessories in the rooms. Various custom-made furniture pieces were also designed for the rooms. After approval of the budget and the designs, a mock-up room was made within two days in early December. All products and materials were tested in this test room.
The final design was carried out with Muurbloem acting as the main contractor and took place between week 2 and week 8 of 2020, with a each floor being tackled separately, one per week. Activities included; painting, cleaning tiling, replacing lighting fixtures and installing accessories. By limiting the work per week to one floor, the hotel was able to remain operational during the renovation. Due to tight calculation and extensive negotiations with suppliers, the project was able to stay 20% under budget, which allowed for finances to additionally paint the rest of the hotel, replace the floor covering on the first floor and to place an extra storage cupboard under the stairs in the basement .
A stylish interior with character that can stand the test of time! The result of this design process is a completely changed hospitality experience inspired by the Gothic Revival, the Rijksmuseum and Dutch culture. By playing with old and new elements, Muurbloem design studio has created an interior that looks fresh and welcoming, and that will certainly do well with the conscious and culture-loving traveler!
Muurbloem design studio provides total furnishings for hospitality and assists architects in giving their projects identity. We develop tailor-made solutions; from design to implementation! Knowing more? Call us on (+31 302714014) or send us an e-mail!
More images can be found on the project page of Hotel Alexander.
Written by Robert Westerveld, Project Manager/Designer