Dezeen Magazine

"Hotel experiences are becoming more sensory" say AHEAD Europe awards judges

The best new hotels are stimulating all of their guests' senses, say AHEAD Europe jury members in this movie Dezeen produced for the awards programme.

The AHEAD Europe awards, which took place in London on Monday, celebrate the best in hotel and resort design across the continent.

Hans Meyer, AHEAD jury member and founder of hotel brand Zoku, claims that successful hospitality buildings provide more than just aesthetic design.

"Hotel experiences are becoming more sensory experiences," he explains in the movie, which was shot on the judging day. "It's not only what you see but also what you smell, hear and taste."

Hotel Sanders Copenhagen won the AHEAD award for Hotel of the Year

The title of Hotel of the Year was awarded to Hotel Sanders Copenhagen, a 54-room five star hotel designed by UK interiors studio Lind + Almond.

Meyer claims the hotel exemplifies the trend for providing an immersive guest experience.

"It's a very intimate space, and feels more like a friend's home than a normal hotel," he says. "There was a lot of attention put into the different materials they used. There's a lot of real wood, a lot of tactility."

Adjara Group's Stamba Hotel in Tbilisi
Hotel Stamba in Georgia is a conversion of a Soviet newspaper printing factory

Judges for the AHEAD awards visited all of the shortlisted properties in person before meeting in London to select the winners.

"The judging process for the AHEAD Awards is very rigorous", explains Matt Turner, organiser of the AHEAD awards and editor-in-chief of Sleeper Magazine, in the film.

Other lauded projects included Hotel Stamba in Georgia, a conversion of a Soviet newspaper printing factory.

The hotel, which was awarded New Concept of the Year by AHEAD, was identified as a highlight by AHEAD judge Constantina Tsoutsikou, creative director at Hirsch Bedner Associates.

Hotel Stamba in Georgia
Hotel Stamba won the AHEAD Europe New Concept of the Year Award

"We're seeing a lot of buildings that were previously office spaces or industrial settings being converted into hotels," says Tsoutsikou.

"Stamba is a good example of a building that had quite an industrial, brutalist architecture," she continues. "I particularly liked the fact that when you step in and you look up slabs have been taken away and removed, and this big printer is suspended in space."

The AHEAD Europe Awards celebrates the best in European hospitality design
The Mandrake in London won an AHEAD award for Landscaping and Outdoor Spaces

The judges commended London hotel The Mandrake for its generously-sized courtyard, which won it the AHEAD award for Landscaping & Outdoor Spaces.

Emma King, head of interior design for InterContinental Hotels Group, notes that the striking courtyard is a surprising feature for a hotel in central London.

"It has a very unusual arrival experience," she says. "You've come off a small side street in London, down a dark tunnel, and suddenly you're in this big green open space."

"It's just a great living, breathing courtyard hotel," she continues. "It's not something you would expect in central London, you suddenly feel like you're catapulted into another world."

The AHEAD Europe Awards celebrates the best in European hospitality design
The judges commended The Mandrake for its verdant courtyard

Reviewing this year's strongest entries, Tsoutsikou notes their ability to take guests away from their everyday reality.

"These hotels enable you to switch off," she says. "You go through the doors and immediately leave everything behind you, and you are immersed in this environment that has been created. That is escapism."

This movie was produced by Dezeen for AHEAD. It was filmed at the CitizenM Tower of London hotel. Images are courtesy of KVD Communications, The Mandrake and Adjara Group.