Once the top summertime destination for holidaymakers in Istanbul, Studio Noor was taken on to refresh the ‘grand dame’ without losing the flair and atmosphere that hotel guests have come to know and love.
The design brief included updating the public spaces and advising on the design of a selection of guestrooms of the famous hotel without denaturing it, to bring it back to a year-round hotel destination.
To achieve an authentic yet impactful restoration, Studio Noor undertook an extensive research project studying the old building and examining photographs and references from the hotel’s archives. Interviews were held with senior members of the family that have owned the hotel since 1908 to collect their memories on how things were in the hotel’s glory years. Reference projects of the same era around the region were reviewed, with studies of other hotels in Istanbul, Cote d’Azur and the Italian Riviera.
The final design scheme was inspired by the hotel’s significant historical location and ancient references from the archive, Visconti movie sets and Agatha Christie novels. These references were blended with contemporary accents to make the hotel more relevant for guests today.
Studio Noor introduced a distinctive design thread to run throughout the Splendid Palace Hotel, choosing a bold Basque red to accentuate several key design features throughout the building. The colourway was initially used on the French shutters on the facade of the hotel, an internal staircase and the inside of the public telephone booth in the lobby. A new custom-designed round ottoman sofa has been upholstered in a striking Jim Thompson fabric for an arresting first impression when entering the hotel lobby, while red screens and lanterns in the winter garden are a modern twist on Ottoman flair. Studio Noor also redesigned the reception counter and created pigeonholes for room keys painted in a dramatic red.
The lobby features a gilded Louis XV sofa, an easel sourced from an antiques market in Athens and an antique gilded marble table. Studio Noor repolished and reconditioned the original lighting in the lobby as well as reupholstering a selection of original furniture pieces in light-coloured linens.
Much of the furniture comprises original pieces found in the hotel, its storerooms and attics, originating from Establissement Austro-Ottoman d’Ameublements (est. 1867). These pieces were lovingly restored by Studio Noor’s team of artisans to peel away layers of lacquer applied throughout the years. They were then reupholstered in a range of contemporary fabrics to introduce a touch of modernity.
A number of original rattan pieces dating back from the beginning of the 20th century and manufactured by Charlionais, Pourailly & Cie (Toulouse-Lyon) were too valuable and fragile to be restored so Studio Noor had them reproduced in Vietnam to stunning effect.
Unique objects and decorative items including antique silver were sourced from antiques dealers in Istanbul and on Studio Noor buying trips to flea markets in Athens, Portobello Market in London and antique dealers in Vietnam. These include two dramatic oversized blue and white vases at the entrance to the bar sourced in Vietnam. The linen drapery is custom designed and was inspired by photographs of hotels in Greece. A large square table in the centre of the lounge features a collection of found objects, books and magazines.
A new bar towards the back of the lounge area was also designed and the wall was repainted in a rich blue tone to complement the colour palette of the furniture and accessories in the room. The space also includes a selection of rugs in faded blue, cream and grey tones.
Many of the lighting features found in the hotel are original but the chandelier in the bar area was custom designed with resin beads containing Turkish tealeaves and manufactured in Vietnam.
Throughout the hotel, considerable attention was paid to the display of the artwork. Most of the smaller oil paintings were commissioned in Vietnam and feature Ottoman artists such as Hoca Ali Riza and other seaside views from the region. The masterpiece is a huge reproduction of an 18th century Italianate Bosphorus and Golden Horn view now hanging above the reception of the hotel. All painting reproductions were aged by hand using craft techniques. The historical portrait of the Pasha was restored and reframed and an oil reproduction was created and offered to the family with a bronze plaque as a thank-you gift.
Many of the original materials in the building were maintained and refreshed; giving them a new lease of life.
The original floors were buried under more than a century of layers of dark brown varnish and these were stripped back and the floor retreated to restore it to its natural colour, which gives the entire hotel a light and airy feel.
The biggest intervention in the space was removing the carpet wallcoverings from the reception, restaurant and public spaces, which ran up the wall to mid-height. Wood panelling was introduced into a selection of these rooms to give a more contemporary look and feel to the space.
For the design of the hotel restaurant, the space was opened up by removing existing large cabinets and adding sleek new buffet counters. The chairs were re-stained in a blue and grey colour palette and reupholstered in a matching fabric reminiscent of Bayadere, which was fashionable in the Ottoman Empire at the time the hotel first opened. New curtains were added to the space as well as new tables with wrought iron feet, in keeping with the style of the hotel, while the tableware used in the restaurant is the hotel’s original silverware from Christofle. Studio Noor also repolished and reconditioned original chandeliers that feature in the space, while clusters of small reproduction paintings hang on the walls adding character to the hotel’s restaurant.