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Hilton unveils audio guides to tell the hidden story of five landmark hotels

anopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre
Hilton Worldwide is for the first time launching a series of podcasts that will act as audio guides to landmark hotels within its European portfolio. With a focus on architecture and design, the podcasts tell the hidden story behind five hotels from a variety of Hilton brands to encourage guests to see the buildings as more than a place to lay their heads.

Hotels selected for the podcast project have been hand-picked by Hilton’s in-house architecture and design team. The collection includes iconic restoration projects in Paris and Hamburg, a refurbishment inspired by a little known corner of Dublin, a London conversion on the city’s artistic South Bank and a first of its kind, design focused concept in Reykjavik.  

Over the past five years, Hilton has significantly expanded its dedicated team of experts focused on the architecture and design of each property. The team works collaboratively across the entirety of Hilton’s portfolio covering a diverse array of locations, brands and projects. The team’s philosophy is centred on creating a sense of place that reflects the destination – not just the city or country, but the hotel’s district, neighbourhood or even street.  

By working with local designers and consultants, Hilton’s design and architecture team ensures that each hotel not only encapsulates an all-important sense of place and the DNA of its brand, but showcases the very best of each location. This can range from commissioned artwork to mark an important moment in time, the inclusion of furniture and soft furnishings from celebrated local workshops or the preservation of historical artefacts for the public to enjoy for decades to come.  

Gordon Coles, ‎Senior Vice President, Architecture, Design and Construction, EMEA, Hilton, said: “Whilst our hotel guests are excited to explore a city’s architecture or its design hotspots during their visit, the hotel itself can be overlooked – it is sometimes seen as just a place to lay your head or enjoy a nice meal after a long day of sightseeing or business meetings. We want to challenge this misconception by revealing the hidden stories of five very special European hotels. Each podcast tells a very different tale reflecting the diversity of our projects, but we hope listeners will be inspired to take a closer look at their hotel after learning a little bit more about its history and hearing one or two secrets.”  

Chris Webb, Senior Director, Interior Design, EMEA, Hilton, said: “Every project is unique, so we approach each hotel with a blank canvas. Creating a sense of place is our core aim – it enhances our guest experience by making their stay more authentic, but it also makes people feel more at home. There is a risk that this could become pastiche, so we spend a lot of time getting under the skin of each location to identify lesser known or quirky flourishes that are still true to the building itself. Each of the five hotels featured in the podcast series are a testament to this approach, from preserving historical features for future generations in Paris and Hamburg to creating interiors that reflect and celebrate a particular neighbourhood in Dublin, London and Reykjavik.”  

The five hotels profiled in the new audio guides are Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre (Iceland); Hilton London Bankside (United Kingdom); Conrad Dublin (Ireland); Hilton Paris Opera (France); and Reichshof Hamburg, Curio Collection by Hilton (Germany).  

Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik City Centre is a new build hotel that is located in a district renowned for its street art. Sigurður Ámundasonhe, whose work adorned a house formerly situated on the hotel’s site, was invited to create new pieces for Canopy. Other street artists have contributed work as part of a collaboration with the Reykjavik Arts Festival. Music has also had a strong influence on the hotel with over 1,000 records available for guests to play in the hotel’s Canopy Central Café, and a Reykjavik Music Box in rooms to lull guests to sleep with an Icelandic lullaby.  

Hilton London Bankside reflects the South Bank’s industrial heritage and the neighbouring Tate Modern. The concrete effect tile flooring in the lobby evokes the famous Turbine Hall and the striking bespoke lighting is by Alexander Calder, an American sculptor and draughtsman who exhibited at the Tate from November 2015 to April 2016. The Penny Wall in the hotel’s Distillery Bar is potentially inconspicuous, but references the building’s previous life as a Bank of England warehouse and features a tribute to the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  

Conrad Dublin took inspiration for its €13 million refurbishment from the beautiful Iveagh Gardens opposite – one of the finest and least known of Dublin’s parks and gardens designed by famed landscape gardener Ninian Niven. In the lobby, the combination of the bespoke rug based on the garden’s labyrinth, the floral colour palette and a handcrafted chandelier overhead evokes the feeling of walking through the rose garden and its meandering pathways with the sunlight glittering overhead.  

Hilton Paris Opera opened in January 2015 after a €46 million refurbishment and is the epitome of an upscale Parisian hotel. It was originally built in 1889, the same year as the Eiffel Tower, for the Exposition Universalle to provide opulent accommodation for wealthy visitors before becoming a safe hold for the resistance during the Second World War. It now features soft furnishings inspired by Christian Lacroix and Baccarat chandeliers that compliment hand-painted frescos and Corinthian colonnades.  

Reichshof Hamburg underwent a €30 million renovation in 2015 to restore the art deco gem to its original glory. Designed by Heinrich Mandix in 1910, the building was inspired by the luxury transatlantic ocean liners of the time and later included a number of original features from the era of the ‘Golden Twenties’. The hotel has been painstakingly restored to its former glory, but pride of place is a sepia-toned photograph on the wall above the bar to remind guests of the building’s original lobby.

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