Winners at this year’s AHEAD Europe included The Standard, London, which took home an impressive five accolades including in the Bar, Club or Lounge; Hotel Conversion; Lobby & Public Spaces; and Restaurant categories, before going on to scoop the coveted Hotel of the Year trophy. Apfelhotel, situated in Saltusio in Italy, was awarded best Guestrooms and best Spa & Wellness, while Birch in Hertfordshire collected the prizes for Visual Identity and New Concept of the Year.
As with all AHEAD Europe events, the evening would not have been the same without a theme. So, for 2020, in keeping with the year of the mask, a Virtual Masquerade theme encouraged supporters to dress up with their peers and organise online Zoom parties to watch the webcast as a collective.
Following the webcast, the audience headed to Instagram for AHEAD’s red carpet afterparty. Sleeper’s Editor-at-Large, Guy Dittrich, spoke to award winners and distributed prizes to the best dressed and those with the most creative, most humorous and most stylish disguises.
“In these challenging times for the travel sector, we were delighted to have this opportunity to recognise the best in hospitality experience and design. The awards provided a timely reminder of all that is great about our industry,” commented Awards Director Amy Wright.
“We built on the success of our earlier AHEAD Asia webcast by pivoting to digital with an extended programme, incorporating conversations with our judges, acceptance speeches from our winners filmed across the continent, and video content from our sponsors. We were also thrilled to bring this online event to a wider audience thanks to our partnerships with Tophotelprojects and Dezeen.”
Bar, Club or Lounge
Double Standard at The Standard, London
Featuring interiors inspired by London’s infamous underground system, the Double Standard bar acts as the main welcome to the hotel’s ground floor spaces. Modern and vintage furniture pieces work in harmony to create ‘a warm energy’ that bewitches guests into staying for hours on end.
Apfelhotel, Saltusio, Italy
Praised for having a ‘smart layout, exceptional attention to detail and generous textures’, the noa* designed guestrooms at Apfelhotel impressed judges with their clever use of ‘zoning’ – providing the guest with separate areas from which to sleep, work or relax.
The Standard, London
The Standard’s second prize of the night was for Hotel Conversion. Judges applauded Archer Humphryes Architects and Shawn Hausman Design for their ‘great intervention’ of an existing building, which transformed what was once seen as an eye-sore into ‘a modern, relevant and distinctive’ hotel.
Lindley Lindenberg, Frankfurt, Germany
Judges appreciated the way the open façade at Lindley Lindenberg reflected the hotel’s ethos, describing it as ‘the soul projecting out into the neighbourhood’, which ‘fills you with anticipation and curiosity’ upon approaching it. The playful use of colour, space and lighting is indicative of its atmosphere and provides guest with that ‘warm and welcoming feeling’.
Hotel Renovation & Restoration
Château de Vignée, Villers-sur-Lesse, Belgium
WeWantMore’s art of storytelling immediately captured the judging panel: “the renovation of the Belgian Ardennes hunter’s hotel into a luxurious boutique has been executed beautifully,” remarked one judge. The designers respected the existing structures of the building while creating ‘rich, sumptuous’ interiors and injecting light humour into the spaces with carefully selected taxidermy pieces.
Landscaping & Outdoor Spaces
The Newt in Somerset, England
Defined as the crowning glory of the estate, The Newt’s sprawling gardens – designed by Italo-French architect Patrice Taravella – impressed judges with their sheer size, variety of traditional and contemporary features, and the fact they are open to the public in order to give back to the community.
Lobby & Public Spaces
The Lobby Lounge at The Standard, London
The design of The Standard’s Lobby Lounge cleverly pays homage to its previous life as a library for Camden Council, channelling a ‘cosy yet vibrant’ atmosphere where guests can steal themselves away and get lost in literature, or meet friends to shoot the breeze over a few cocktails.
Lodges, Cabins & Tented Camps
Casa Palerm, Mallorca
Casa Palerm is the extension of an existing hotel in the rural countryside of Mallorca. The judges admired the property for its ‘exquisite blending of interior and exterior’ – highlighting the wattle pergola that shades the semi-outdoor centre of the house – and were blown away by its ‘wonderful vistas’.
Domes Zeen Chania, Greece
Described by the judges as a ‘standout project with a true sense of place’, Domes Zeen Chania ‘oozes warmth, charm and personality’. An earthy colour palette, natural textures and neutral materials were used throughout to exude Bohemian luxury and ensure it blended effortlessly within its Cretan setting.
Decimo at The Standard, London, England
The Standard’s fourth accolade went to its Decimo restaurant. Located on the 10th floor of the hotel, the venue boasts floor-to-ceiling windows with enchanting views of the London skyline. One judge described the interiors as ‘a refreshing piece of theatre’, while another highlighted the ‘perfectly paired menu’ and ‘soothing colour scheme’ as key elements of the restaurant’s holistic experience.
Spa & Wellness
Apfelhotel, Saltusio, Italy
Translating to ‘Water Well House’, Apfelhotel’s new wellness centre is nestled into the landscape of the Italian Alps. The northside entrance of Brunnenhaus is built out of sight into a natural green slope and is juxtaposed by a southside façade constructed from glass and steal. Judges agreed that the spa was ‘beautifully executed with rigour, restraint and an eye for detail’.
Ekies All Senses Resort, Vourvourou, Greece
The inspiration behind Ekies’ new suites came from nearby monasteries and the calmness they exude. A ‘less is more’ design approach was taken, with emphasis placed on natural materials – from organic curtain fabrics to beds and pillows set against solid wood furnishings and nude concrete ceilings.
Birch, Cheshunt, England
The design brief for Birch’s Hertfordshire debut was to create a language that truly reflected the vibrant energy found within the property. The judges described its visual identity as ‘refreshing, unexpected and fun’, and commended those involved for activating the interior spaces with a sense of humour.
Birch, Cheshunt, England
A lifestyle hotel for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London, Birch is housed in a former De Vere Theobalds Estate Hotel and spins hospitality on its head. The owners have built a community within which patrons can be themselves, meet like-minded people and disconnect from the daily life. The judges agreed that ‘the concept is authentic’ and cannot wait to see how the brand expands.
AHEAD Europe Hotel of the Year
The Standard, London
The grand prize of the night was awarded to The Standard, a transformation of the former Camden Town Hall Annex in Kings Cross. One judge described the 1970s punk narrative as ‘an avalanche on the senses’, while another believed the property was ‘exactly what the London hotel scene needed’.