AHEAD - the awards for hospitality experience and design - has announced the winners of AHEAD Europe 2022, marking the close of its 2022 series.
After receiving over 220 regional entries spanning 23 countries, AHEAD’s regional judging panel of leading hoteliers, architects, interior designers and industry commentators narrowed-down their winners in 18 categories.
For AHEAD’s flagship ceremony at Evolution London, the theme of black tie with a twist was ‘Boho/Balearic’ inspired by the laid-back luxury of the Balearic isles and the bohemian lifestyle it evokes, with music from Ibiza DJs Jaime Fiorito and Bill Brewster.
From a converted women’s prison in Berlin to a luxury art deco train running from London to Venice and beyond, some of the region’s most compelling hospitality projects were showcased, demonstrating an array of original design concepts debuted over the past year.
The Londoner was the ultimate winner of the night, taking home three awards including the coveted Hotel of the Year.
Here's the full list of winners...
BAR, CLUB or LOUNGE
Punch Room - The Madrid Edition, Madrid, Spain
For this modern speakeasy, a rich tapestry of colours and textures were utilised to create an intimate space, featuring dark oak panelling and handwoven rugs foreground by bright Catalan-inspired colours. “The playful design harbours the vividness of Madrid” commented one judge, while another praised the space as “bold, brave and incredibly atmospheric”.
The Londoner, London, UK
Inspired by the theatres of the West End, The Londoner’s event space offering is deeply dramatic, with a design characterised by mirrored ceilings, plush velvet drapery and artworks hanging from a pulley system to imitate set changes. Set across six subterranean levels, technology and innovation is at the forefront of the design, creating what judges lauded as “a wonderland of event spaces” that “sets a new bar”.
Monastero Arx Vivendi, Arco, Italy
Tasked with reviving a 17th Century monastery in Arco, noa* applied “just enough restraint and sophistication” to “elegantly capture the essence of the building”. The 38 guestrooms occupy the former monastic cells and trusses, with design features such as undulating plaster walls, hand-planed oak flooring and minimal dècor creating what judges described as “a vision of calm”.
The Madrid Edition, Madrid, Spain
Combining the refined elegance of British architect John Pawson and the artistry of Paris-based François Champsaur, The Madrid Edition is a “new, fresh and unexpected” conversion situated in the city’s Plaza de la Descalzas. The original building is clean-lined and modern, embellished only by a decorative 18th-century baroque portal salvaged from an adjacent building. Drawing from its façade, interiors “juxtapose simplicity with ornate details” to create what one judge lauded as “a characterful piece of art”.
The Londoner, London, UK
Dubbed the world’s first ‘super-boutique’, The Londoner is a 16-storey hotel standing 30 metres tall and 32 metres below street level in the heart of the capital. A collaboration between Woods Bagot and Edwardian Hotels’ Rob Steul; the project was sensitively integrated into the historic urban fabric of Leicester Square, all whilst earning a rating of excellent from BREEAM. Judges agreed: this is “the most impressive architectural and engineering feat”, describing it as “hugely complex” and “skilfully executed”.
HOTEL RENOVATION & RESTORATION
Rosewood Villa Magna, Madrid, Spain
Reimagined as a modern manor house oasis in urban Madrid, the hotel underwent a major renovation led by BAR Studio. The now elevated spaces are connected yet distinct, imbued with classical details such as timber cornices and local elements such as Piedra de Campaspero limestone to evoke a welcoming nostalgia and sense of place. Judges praised the redesign as “impactful and homogeneous throughout” and lauded it as “the epitome of a contemporary luxury hotel”.
LANDSCAPING & OUTDOOR SPACES
Grecotel Corfu Imperial, Corfu, Greece
Located on an idyllic peninsula on the island of Corfu, the hotel is set against a backdrop of the crystal waters of the Ionian Sea. Led by Scape, the landscape design was influenced by Corfu’s historic links to Italy and its Renaissance styles, with grand courtyards built around existing olive trees and elegant garden pavilions overlooking the sea and the mountains beyond. According to one judge, the design is “lush and considered”, offering a “variety of experiences” for guests to enjoy.
LOBBY & PUBLIC SPACES
The Madrid Edition, Madrid, Spain
Under an undulating ceiling, the lobby is a dynamic social space decorated with a mix of bespoke furnishings; from the iconic white staircase to the shapely pool table carved from a single slab of marble. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a fuchsia tunnel leading to an off-white lobby with details recalling the baroque entrance. The panel praised the spaces’ “amazing sense of innovation and theatre”, described as “a truly vibrant space”.
LODGES, CABINS & TENTED CAMPS
DistrictHive, Granada, Spain
The DistrictHive podtel is the first fully self-sufficient, autonomous module, commended by the judges for “opening a window to new hospitality experiences”. Designed to be offered as a luxury tourist product, the podtel measures 35-square-metres and comprises a kitchen-living room, a bathroom, a bedroom and an open space for stargazing, all monitored by AI technology to assist guests throughout their stay.
Six Senses Shaharut, Israel
Lauded by the judges as “a true resort, retreat and destination to heal the soul”, Six Senses Shaharut offers guests total immersion in the Negev desert. Harnessing local materials and regional craft, such as rough-hewn limestone excavated on-site and traditional thatched roofs, the 60-suite resort is a modern interpretation of the nomadic Nabataean structures that once occupied the area.
The Aubrey - Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, UK
Marking the first UK venture for Maximal Concepts, The Aubrey was a collaboration with London-based design studio Brady Williams. A richly-coloured labyrinth of velvet and marble, the team was inspired by the building’s original use as a gentleman’s club and imagined how the intimate spaces may have evolved over time, whilst injecting the brand’s typical Japonisme character and layered eccentricism throughout. Judges described the spaces’ “journey of discovery” as “decadent, seductive and luxe”.
SPA & WELLNESS
The Bathhouse - Castello di Reschio, Perugia, Italy
Located on the 3,700-acre Reschio Estate in the castle’s ancient wine cellars, The Bathhouse is a tranquil sanctuary inspired by traditional Roman baths of old. A series of interconnecting spaces centre-around the large salt-water pool, illuminated by high windows that allow atmospheric shafts of sunlight into the space. “The sense of discovery is awe-inspiring” commented one judge, while another praised the design as “highly evocative and authentic”.
Kálesma Mykonos, Greece
Drawing upon the raw beauty of the arid, rocky landscape set against deep blue waters, K-Studio’s 25 suites and two villas enjoy views of both sunrise and sunset. Each with their own private terrace and pool, they are almost sculptural by design, featuring round-edge rendered limestone walls. Inside, interiors by Studio Bonarchi are a modern interpretation of Cycladic style, fusing natural textures such as chestnut beams and sandblasted stone floors with sharp brass details and bright whitewashed walls. The panel highlighted the “wonderful attention to detail” for creating “incredible luxury in the simplicity of the design”.
Venice Simplon-Orient Express, Paris, France
The train’s three new suites designed by Wimberly Interiors in collaboration with Belmond are characterised by dark wood furnishings with custom marquetry and richly-coloured fabrics in hues of gold and emerald. The design was described by the panel as “timeless luxury that harks back to a bygone era of luxury travel”, evoking a “real sense of wanderlust and exquisite escapism”.
The Ivens Hotel, Autograph Collection, Lisbon, Portugal
Inspired by 19th century Portuguese explorer Roberto Ivens, the hotel was designed as a base to explore Lisbon as Ivens once explored Africa. From conceptualising the hotel’s name to its visual identity, individuality was prioritised to create a uniquely authentic guest experience, layered with history and a strong sense of place.
Room2 Chiswick, London, UK
In line with the brand’s commitment to only build 100% net zero hometels, room2 Chiswick’s carbon emissions equal zero from construction, operation and eventual deconstruction, with any unavoidable emissions offset with a reforesting partner in Nicaragua. As the first hotel in the world to totally offset both operational and embodied carbon, the project is forecast to use 89% less energy than a typical UK hotel, setting a new industry standard.
Inhabit Hotels made quite the splash when it arrived on London's hospitality scene in 2019, introducing 'urban wellness' to the British capital with a concept centred around health, social connection and environmental responsibility. Three years on, the brand has planted its second London flag set across a crescent of mid-19th-century townhouses, whilst working towards its B Corps certification with the goal of being among the first in the UK to achieve the eminent standard of corporate responsibility.
HOTEL OF THE YEAR
The Londoner, London, UK
Lauded by the judges as “a true visionary project”, the panel was in agreement that The Londoner was “a worthy winner”, with potential to “compete on a global scale".