Design steeped in history, modernity, and light

February 1, 2018 -
Hôtel Château Bellevue

When people are vacationing, they look for hotels that are centrally located and rooms that are safe and comfortable. But they also want a décor that elevates their travel experience. That’s why interior design is so important and why I love working with it as part of my job. To tell you the truth, it’s a real passion of mine.

When designing hotel rooms and common areas, there are a number of requirements to consider. The design has to meet our customers’ expectations, while providing our staff with an optimal work environment. The goal of design is to create harmony, blending ambiance, comfort, and privacy to enhance enjoyment of these spaces while ensuring a level of ergonomics that makes it easy to provide everyday services.

When describing a hotel room or lobby, people often refer to the decorative elements, but the real strengths and weaknesses often all boil down to design. Having a space that’s well organized with carefully placed furniture and amenities can facilitate movement, help reduce ambient noise, speed up breakfast service, and even encourage guests to talk to each other. A poor design will have the opposite effects.

So it’s important for a hotel to live up to its reputation and take into account the main characteristics, needs, and expectations of the guests it serves. If you’ve ever stayed at Hôtel Château Bellevue you will have undoubtedly noticed—and appreciated, I hope—how warm, cozy, and intimate the hotel is. We wanted to create an ambiance equally well suited to guests traveling alone, as a couple, or with friends. Part of this ambiance has to do with the history of the building, but it also has to do with the comfort of the modern components we’ve added. I have to say I love playing with this blend of historic-meets-modern every chance I get. For example, salvaging and updating old furniture or sprucing up our smallest rooms by pairing wood, bricks, or stone elements with wallpaper featuring modern colors, textures, or motifs is a great way to add character and breathe life into the décor. Making the most of a building with architecture as distinctive as Hôtel Château Bellevue’s comes with its fair share of challenges, but also a lot of opportunities.

Another feature I love to play with is light. In an old building, light is often a challenge because it’s hard to change the building’s structure to bring in more natural light. There are so many key factors to keep in mind when you want to amplify and diffuse each ray or beam of light—everything from selecting and positioning light fixtures to deciding on wall and furniture colors, and picking textures that absorb or reflect ambient light.

As an operator of a small and independent hotel, we need to be very careful not to fall back on déjà vu, while always being aware of the impact and costs of making updates. That’s why at Hôtel Château Bellevue, we try to renovate three or four rooms and freshen up one common area every year. You have to be creative and avoid jumping on hot new trends that can quickly fall out of favor or turn off guests who choose Hôtel Château Bellevue for a special reason: because its location and signature style elevate the overall experience of visiting Old Québec.

For me the best way to stay inspired and on-trend is to travel. It’s a way for me to continuously rethink my understanding of guests’ needs and discover original and creative new ways to meet these needs. I encourage you to take a look at a hotel I recently visited that blew me away with a design that’s both simple and mindful of the building’s history. It’s called Hôtel Baudon de Mauny and is located in the heart of Montpelier in the south of France. Built in the 18th century, this tiny hotel underwent a major overhaul so that today it can provide guests a high quality experience comparable to what you’d get at a contemporary hotel, with modern amenities and services enhanced by the distinctive charm that comes from the historic ambiance and architectural details.

If you’re a design fan like me and know about other hotels that take an original approach to blending history and modernity, I’d love to hear about them in a comment.

Enjoy the rest of your winter. I’ll be back with a new blog post in April!

Aude Lafrance-Girard

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