Beautiful Boutique

Sleeper Magazine - Issue 13 - July/August 2007

Branding and design specialists Studio 48 have given The Balmoral Hotel in Harrogate a head-to-toe makeover for owners Inn Focus Group, including the second outing of the Grille F&B concept first used at Sinclair Beechams Hoxton Hotel.

The Balmoral has existed for several years as one of the many traditional hotels & guesthouses just outside the centre of Harrogate. Larger than the majority of its neighbours with 23 rooms, and benefiting from an elevated position it already had much to distinguish it from the local accommodation crowd. However, thanks to a massive programme of refurbishment by new owners Philip & Steven Barker of Harrogate-based Inn Focus Group, it is well & truly set apart from the rest.

The newly beautified boutique hotel has received a whole new identity thanks to branding and interior design specialists Studio 48. The programme of refurbishment has so far reached the main public areas and around half the bedrooms, with the final renovation to be completed by the end of the summer.

It is hoped that the all new Balmoral experience will appeal to a wider customer base, and help the hotel realise its potential, as Gabriel Murray, head of studio 48 , explains ‘ the aim has been to re-establish the brand & the whole experience in order to appease travel & local destination travellers. The concept is aimed at the more mature, aspirational guest. The aspects of the project have been the refurbishment of all the 23 rooms, which will be completed as part of the eight week programme, the creation of the new lobby with cosmopolitan bar and all-day food and beverage concept. We are also exploring a new basement space for function rooms with the possibility of creating a members bar’

The first change that is noticeable on the approach to the hotel is the impressively rejuvenated exterior. The Balmoral now stands out not only due to its size and position, but its freshly scrubbed stone façade and landscaped gardens , complete with funky moulded alfresco furniture and new signage. Guests enter the building through a futuristic glass portal and appear on the other side in the stylish world that is The Balmoral's new reception and lounge. The entire design architecture of the hotel has been carefully balanced in order to create the perfect ambience - one of welcoming yet luxurious modern opulence.

A strong and sleek look denotes the lobby, which has a certain air of leisurely decadence about it. The chic colour scheme of red & black is played out with jet black Louis style chairs and low crimson loungers, mixing classically contemporary and traditional furniture. This theme is continued through the rest of the hotel, with each bedroom given its own individual twist in order to make the most of the characture of the building and the different shapes and nuances of the rooms. The sophisticated boudoirs come swathed in various luxurious, richly coloured materials, with plenty of feature chandeliers and ornate mirrors cranking up the sex appeal.

Central to The Balmoral operation is the new Grille Restaurant. This is the second in what is an expanding line of newly created Grille Brasseries. The first Hoxton Grille opened in September 2006, as part of Pret A Manger founder Sinclair Beechams Hoxton Hotel. The concept, created by John Pallagi & Simon Wright - the team behind Room Restaurant brand – has been specifically tailored to work as part of independent hotel projects.
‘We have created a win-win situation for ourselves and the hotel owners’ comments Wright. ’The Grille’ has its own identity, but works in tandem with the hotels positioning and direction, providing hotel guests with a great restaurant and bar without them having to worry about the running of food and beverage operations’.

Studio 48 are also credited with the design and branding for the recently launched The Grille chain, which hopes to bring a little of the style and originality on New York and Paris bistros to the UK.

Developing the scheme already implemented in the Hoxton site, the Harrogate Grille is a comfortable and modern space that works well with its historic Victorian surrounding.

A palette of pale mustard and blue has been used here which, along with tub chairs and leather banquettes, give the restaurant a timeless, classic feel. Exposed brick work, original Victorian bay windows and stunning black and white photography by David Sutcliffe complete the picture.
‘We have created a friendly and open space’ says Murray of Studio 48 ‘The whole environment is founded on easy going professionalism and comfort’ It is a classic concept with progressive flare, and offers a stimulating and memorable experience that will appeal to the Grilles target market’.
Indeed this is true of the Balmoral concept as a whole which is modern and driven in its aspirations but with quality and relaxed service at its core.