DESIGN DESTINATION | Gorgeous George hotel, Cape Town
The blending of two heritage buildings to create a sophisticated yet irreverent spot has resulted in some interesting architectural and design features, writes Julia Freemantle
Cued by its architectural heritage, Gorgeous George, Cape Town's newest hotel, is a hybrid of styles that celebrates the structural mismatch of two adjoining buildings with a cool mix of local design pieces.
Situated on St George's Mall, the hotel's location is quintessentially Capetonian and offers a downtown city experience for both local visitors and world travellers.
"We wanted to create an interactive social hub for everyone to enjoy," says general manager Neilen Tolmay.
Originally constructed by the United Building Society, the hotel's entrance is Art Deco and the adjacent conjoined building features elements of the New Edwardian style of the 1940s.
Celebrating each style's unique features, while also marrying the two, was a challenge that gave rise to interesting architectural and design features - a meeting of classical and industrial motifs that gives it elegance as well as edge.
Described as a place for "friends to stay and play", the hotel's irreverent yet sophisticated take gives it a unique identity that is sure to become a favourite and much-photographed destination on the city map. The design aesthetic of the 32 luxurious rooms (in studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suite permutations) blends raw concrete and exposed steel with elegant Victorian elements and contemporary design.
Interior designer Tristan du Plessis of Studio A says: "We wanted to take this fantastic building that has a rich historical legacy rooted in Cape Town and create a modern, timeless hotel using South African designers as part of the DNA."
To create this eclectic effect, Du Plessis sourced pieces from some of SA's celebrated creative talents. Lighting and furniture were chosen from David Krynauw, Gregor Jenkin, Dokter and Misses, Studio 19 and Douglas and Co.
As the aesthetic cherry on top, local artists were involved to add their touch to the picture. Hence, Porky Hefer's crocodile swing chair is a playful touch, David Brits's graphic art grounds the rooms, and Lucie De Moyencourt's delicate mural work adds artistic gravitas to the spaces - her Delft-inspired masterpiece is made of 1,800 hand-painted tiles depicting a map of Cape Town.
It's also the first hotel in Cape Town to join the Design HotelsTM stable and the city's only venue to have this honour. Design HotelsTM was established in Germany in 1993 and spans the globe in over 50 countries, from country idylls to city centres. Member hotels reflect innovative design and architecture, with a strong cultural rooting in hospitality.
"Hotels have to create a unique and inspiring, locally driven experience for travellers," says Tolmay.