Grand designs at The Grand Hotel

Grand designs at The Grand Hotel

Revitalising the grand old lady at Grandwest

dhk Architects and dhk Interior Design combined forces on a project for Sun International to revitalise a grand old lady, The Grand Hotel, located at Grandwest in Cape Town.

The original building was modelled on the historic, Grand Hotel located on the corner of Strand and Adderley Streets in Cape Town. It was built in 1894 and demolished in 1952. The replica hotel was built as a tribute to that original. The 2000 design honoured various prominent Cape Town landmarks, including the now-demolished Tivoli Music Hall and Alhambra Theatre, the Old Railway Station, Cartwright’s Corner and buildings in District Six. First opened in 2000, the hotel needed a refresh.

The new renovation adds 68 rooms to the hotel, bringing the total to 103 rooms. Two new three-storey wings extend out symmetrically from the original building, creating a u-shaped structure on either side of a new port cochere. The port cochere itself creates a grand entrance to the hotel, welcoming guests when they arrive. The existing building received a facelift, too, sprucing up the aesthetics to match the new additions. The wings were designed to match the original colour scheme, with the distinctive pale yellow contrasting against the ornate white filigree ironwork and a grey slate roof.

The newly refurbished Grand Hotel at Grandwest was officially opened on 1 December 2023. The image shows one of the new extended wings and the new port cochere, lit up for guests at the official opening function (credit: dhk Architects).

Taking a similar approach, the interiors were designed to replicate the unique history of Cape Town’s art, architecture and natural beauty. Classical features such as mouldings and dado rails maintain the historical aesthetic, while the colour palette is more contemporary. Burgundy, cream, white and brown reflect the Cape’s unique floral kingdom and the winelands. The carpets bear the same designs as the original hotel fit-out, while passages feature floor tiles in a replica historical design from Victorian townhouses. The rooms are designed with hints of the original Victorian aesthetic, in plush headboards, marble wall coverings and brass fittings. These are complemented by more contemporary touches expressed in the predominantly monochrome colour scheme, along with a combination of geometric decorative elements and more simple expressions on wallpaper, mirrors and lighting featured through the rooms. Soft furnishings reflect earthy tones of ochre, burgundy and taupe. In time, the rooms in the original building will be similarly upgraded to match the new scheme.

Interior image of the presidential suite at the newly refurbished Grand Hotel at Grandwest. Ⓒ Nickay 2002-2023. All rights Reserved

While the four-star hotel is pitched at a more affluent audience, the Grand Hotel at Grandwest had more humble beginnings. The project was given life as the result of a community benefit contribution by the developers of the Canal Walk shopping centre. A condition of Canal Walk’s planning approval required a social provision, in which the land where Grandwest currently sits was granted to the local community. The casino project was conceived as an opportunity to create jobs and drive economic development in the area, with the full support of the community in the area. Local people were hired during the construction phase and many of Grandwest’s employees have worked there since the complex opened in 2000.

The project incorporates a new spa, gym and indoor swimming pool. The spa features clean lines and peaceful muted palette of whites, greys and taupes, creating a peaceful haven for guests. A mud room features pinprick lights inset into the indigo-coloured ceiling, brass handheld shower heads and marble wall cladding. The sauna is fitted with blonde wood benches and brass ironmongery. These are set opposite the private treatment rooms which combine a predominantly white aesthetic, warmed by fittings of darker wood and brass. In the reception and public salon areas, darker wood panelling offers a rich contrast against pristine white furniture and cupboards. The pool room features large grey wall tiles leading into slightly lighter floor tiles which in turn lead into a sunken infinity pool. The pool itself is set under a soft panel light that features a hint of geometric art deco shapes. While small, the gym is fully fitted with circuit machines and weights sets – just enough to complete a full workout.

Most of the materials were sourced from local manufacturers, based either in Cape Town itself or in South Africa, and all upholstery was done locally, in Stellenbosch.

Lisa Bridgeford, Head of dhk Interior Design, sums up the interior component of the project: “The end result of the project is an elegant, calm and sophisticated four-star environment. It offers a tranquil haven for guests, with a sanctuary from the busyness of the casino environment.”