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Design tour of a stylish airport hotel.
Radisson Blu Edwardian is definitely a hotel group with a sense of humour; a delicate wit, you might say, bringing a gentle smile to the face rather than a belly-laugh or a chortle - but still a sense of humour that many hotels don’t possess. This sense of playfulness is evident in the design of the same group’s Guildford hotel as well as in the quirky decoration of its Mercer Street Hotel, which as far as we know is the only luxury hotel in Covent Garden with its own sheep mascot. So I already had quite high expectations on my recent tour of the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow.
The first thing I noticed and rather liked was the fact that so many of the art works at the hotel (which our bloggers visited in December for a Free WiFi Touchdown) refer to the theme of flight – appropriate for an airport hotel. But while many designers would have been rather literal and made reference to planes, perhaps using portholes, pictures of early aviation or clouds as a theme, here a slightly more oblique approach is taken…
For instance there are ‘flying fish’ in the atrium – not actually flying fish as such (that is, fish like exocoetus and cypselurus which actually propel themselves out of the water), but translucent statuettes of goldfish which hover above the surface of a black pool, reflected in the water below.
There’s also a copy of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a famous Greek sculpture – again, with her wings outstretched to fly. The only problem, since she has no head, is that she won’t be able to see where she’s going!
Perhaps the wittiest comment on the theme of flight, though, is the huge, day-glo pink painting of a trotting ostrich that hangs in the Brasserie restaurant. It’s got go-faster stripes and is obviously proceeding at a rate of knots – but ostriches of course can’t fly at all!
There’s also a huge amount of wildlife to be seen. In the Newbury Suite, which is certainly one of the more extravagant conference venues near Heathrow, palm trees reach up to the skylight and you can see herons fishing in the pool, as well as a big bronze tortoise. Or is it a turtle? We won’t know until it goes for a swim!
I also liked the little dogs standing on boulders in another water feature. The lovely thing is that apart from being quite funny – one in particular seems to be a real character, leaning out to sniff at the other two in a way that suggests if he goes much further, he’ll fall off his rock and get wet – the fact that they’re porcelain-white, like the pebble borders of the pond, give a sort of Zen garden effect, so they’re definitely not twee.
I feel sorry for the Spike the Stag though. He’s a huge-antlered beast, gleaming darkly, but he’s stuck in the middle of a pond and always getting dripped on. But at least he gets to peak at conference attendees who are taking a lunch break in the Atrium, used as an inspiring breakout space for the surrounding conference rooms.
And then of course there are the wonderful chandeliers – all quite different, from the golden-leaved bouquets in the Brasserie to the delicate glass filigree with its tiny glittering pendants in the Bijou bar. Chandeliers can give a feeling of over-stuffed chintz, but the way this hotel uses them doesn’t – they are little accents, rather than part of an overdone decorative scheme and they further distinguish it from other hotels in Heathrow.
And Radisson Blu Edwardian management, if you’re listening, I want one of those filigree glass chandeliers. Pretty please?
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight.