Summer Break

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The Hotel Investigator is taking a summer break in order to collect exciting new insights throughout Italy. Please stand by and look forward to new posts and close looks at exceptional locales resuming June 25, 2013.

 

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Anglo-Norman Manor or Palace Hotel on Normandy’s Côte Fleurie

Two on the Go…
Deauville | Hotel Normandy & Hotel Royal

Of France’s historic seaside resorts on the English Channel, Deauville has certainly
the blandest setting. But the lacking picturesque of its site is compensated by the uninterrupted glamour and prestige that the resort enjoys since it was first launched
by the Duke of Morny in the mid-19th century.

The ‘Queen of Norman beaches’ is famous its two world-renowned hippodromes, casino, ‘Les Planches’ boardwalk and annual American Film Festival, all of which continue to cast a continuous spell on socialites, wealthy families and day trippers alike.
Even though parallels are hard to draw, the manicured appeal of Deauville is in many ways similar to East Hampton, New York: a visually pleasing and secure haven with all the right ingredients for high-living and the added convenience of an easy two-hour train ride from Paris.

The layout of Deauville was inspired by Haussmann’s principles that still characterize Paris today (albeit on a much larger scale). Just like the gleaming Casino, two grand hotels are an essential part of Deauville’s social circuit and stand out as landmarks in the network of generous avenues that compose the resort.

Inaugurated in 1912, the Hotel Normandy is a very interesting building type and essentially a ‘grand hotel in disguise’. Though it occupies a large rectangular lot on the waterfront, its appearance rather recalls a Norman manor house than a luxury hotel – a characteristic that does not interfere with the preeminence of the neoclassical ‘Casino de Deauville’ next door. The traditional Norman vernacular trimmings of its exterior and the relatively low building height of only three stories create an architectural intimacy that is further enhanced by several courtyards of various sizes which break up the scale of its comparatively large footprint.

Opened only one year later in 1913, the Hotel Royal takes a decidedly different architectural approach. Loyal to the name that it bears, its appearance is a towering
u-shaped building of seven stories. Even today, it is a distinguishable silhouette from afar. The favorite haunt of visiting Hollywood movie stars during the film festival, the Royal is the typical French seaside palace hôtel with generous double height public rooms on the ground floor and the ubiquitous ‘rear’ door which opens onto a generous terrace facing the waterfront. Although the faux-timber ornamentation in the upper parts of its facade pays tribute to its Norman backdrop, the Royal displays many attributes which became the standard building type for luxury hotels in French resorts like La Baule, Biarritz and Cannes in the first half of the 20th century.

Hotel Normandy Barrière
38, Rue Jean-Mermoz
14804 Deauville
France

Hotel Royal Barrière
Boulevard Eugène-Cornuché
14804 Deauville
France

Similar, but quite different – two historic properties in one of the World’s most livable cities

Two on the Go…
Dusseldorf | Hotel Breidenbacher Hof & Steigenberger Park-Hotel

 

In the 2012 Mercer Quality of Living Survey, rank #6 of the World’s most livable cities is occupied by the German city of Dusseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. Rather confidential, the city on the Rhine plays nevertheless an internationally significant role as a center for business, finance, fashion and the arts. Its attractiveness is largely shaped by a striking pedestrianized riverfront, a thriving art scene, the elegant Königsallee (one of the most exclusive shopping avenues in Europe) and by a boisterous Karneval.

Historically, two hotels compete for the city’s most prestigious lodgings. Separated by only a few hundred yards, both are local institutions which could not be more different: while the Park-Hotel could be the epitome of the ‘Grand Hotel on the Park’, the Breidenbacher Hof appears as a luxurious city hotel that reinvented itself multiple times since its opening in 1808.

The Breidenbacher Hof has perhaps a more interesting architectural history to reveal, stretching from multiple transformations in the 19th century to an avant-garde redesign in 1928 and its reconstruction in 1950, both of which were carried out by Emil Fahrenkamp, an emblematic architect of the ‘New Objectivity’ movement. Subsequently closed in the late 1990s and then demolished, today’s hotel is a new construction from scratch, actually the fourth on the same site. Offering the most updated ultra-deluxe amenities of any hotel in Dusseldorf since its 2008 opening, the hotel’s style is rather ostentatious and in that sense, the enormous awning of its porte cochère is certainly one of the most impressive in Europe.

Even though its roof and the last floor were reconstructed in the nondescript style after the war, the Steigenberger Park-Hotel nevertheless maintains an ornate exterior that is reminiscent of the representative architecture in Germany at the turn of the century. Inaugurated in 1902, it is a part of Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts today, a group which largely contributed to reestablish the presence of 5-star luxury hotels in postwar Germany.
Having become a little too substantial in comparison to other comparable competitors in recent years, the traditional style for which many of its properties are known for, has been toned down in the attempt to incorporate more contemporary accents.

Hotel Breidenbacher Hof
Königsallee 11
40212 Düsseldorf
Germany

Steigenberger Park-Hotel
Königsallee 1a
40212 Düsseldorf
Germany

A new category

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Today’s post will introduce a new category: Two on the Go

Paris, Madrid, Hamburg, Cologne, Deauville, Monte-Carlo, San Francisco…
What is the common denominator of these locations?

A pair of historic hotels, often in close vicinity, that are the obvious contenders in the category of premier hotels. While I take a look at a first pair today in Dusseldorf, Germany, stay tuned for more pairings to come, all of which will precede my subsequent brief or close look (and post).

On the river, the imposing fragment of a monumental project

In and Out…
Amsterdam | Amstel Hotel

Of Amsterdam’s historic hotels, several are of inherent interest to the Hotel Investigator:
the ‘De l’Europe’ for its intimate elegance, the ‘Doelen’ for its history, the ‘Krasnapolsky’ for its size, the ‘American’ and the ‘Schiller’ for their Art Nouveau heritage… But as a rightful representative of the category ‘grand hôtel’, nothing in the intricate cityscape of the Dutch capital compares to the ‘Amstel’.

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