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Play with your interior environment

06 November 2018

An increasing number of hotels are incorporating elements of their environment into the interior. Els Soudan has been designing hotel interiors for 30 years, including for Ibis Styles hotels. “The hotel sector is constantly changing. Now more than ever, it’s important that your guests feel at home. You can do that with the right design.”

Hotel Ibis Styles Nieuwpoort
the coast was the inspiration for the interior of the Ibis Styles in Nieuwpoort. 

Why is working with local elements so important?

“People make a very conscious decision about their holiday destination. If hotels are able to respond to that, they can have a big influence on their guests’ moods. But it’s important not to choose the obvious. People who stay in Ypres may very well be interested in the history of war, but that probably means that they don’t want images of battlefields over their beds (laughs).”

“I also stay away from folklore, it’s in the past. I look at what’s happening in the city today and try to combine those textures and colours. As a chain, Ibis Styles incorporates elements of its location into the interior of its hotels. Everything revolves around storytelling, the story of the location. So an Ibis Styles hotel by the sea will look very different to one at the heart of an industrial city.”

How do you tackle this?

“Often the client will give me a “direction”, but I do a lot of research myself online. I look at the history of the city, but mostly the recent past and what it is that typifies the city.”

“The Ibis Styles hotel in Nieuwpoort opened in June 2017. I managed to incorporate the story of the sea by working in the atmosphere of a beach house with weather-beaten materials. The floor is tiled but with the look of worn boards. Darker wood in the furniture extends the look, combined with white textured panels. They look like painted panels. I’ve also gone back in time a bit with photos from the 1960s of people enjoying a day out at the seaside to help create a sense of nostalgia.”

Ibis styles hotel Kortrijk Expo

“In Kortrijk, the hotel is next to the exhibition halls. I took the Flemish textile industry as my inspiration, with a more industrial look. I’m currently working on a new Ibis Styles hotel in Liège. The station, which is nearby, is a fantastic source of inspiration, but I’m looking farther afield as well. My client suggested doing something with cartoons on account of the many cartoonists from Liège, so I’m developing that idea at the moment.”

Ibis styles Kortrijk

Do you do the same for other assignments?

“Yes. At the Novotel in Ypres, I was eager to avoid references to the war as much as possible. I’m now looking for a good alternative that will immediately give guests a sense of being in Ypres. The owner of the hotel did impose one condition though. That the poem “in Flanders Fields” on the wall of the lobby had to stay. Guests love to take photographs of it.”

“Ibis Budget, the cheaper sister hotel to Ibis Styles, normally has a set interior, but in Ghent we’ve changed it. I took a town map and photos of Ghent and incorporated them into the interior of the lobby. The design speaks more to younger, urban guests.’

Ibis budget Gent

Ibis budget Gent

“I also used the local environment at a WeCare hotel in Moeskroen. It’s just a stone’s throw from Kortrijk, so the textile industry is just as important, and you can see that in the photos above the bed. We used black and white images with red accented highlights.”

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