Waldorf Astoria DIFC is a throwback to 1960s New York

Waldorf Astoria DIFC is a throwback to 1960s New York
Published: 4 September 2019 - 11 a.m.
By: Aidan Imanova

Located in the heart of Dubai’s Financial District is the mixed-use 1960s-inspired skyscraper Burj Daman, which now houses the recently opened Waldorf Astoria. Upon first glance, the hotel doesn’t stray far from a film set on New York-based drama television series Mad Men. In fact, it was one of the design inspirations.

According to American architecture and design firm Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart (SRSS), who designed the public areas as well as the hotel rooms and suites, the brief was to stay away from the local context and vernacular elements. The designers, instead, focused on creating a narrative that honours the building’s mid-modern architecture, evoking the styling and lifestyle of an era gone by.

Guests are greeted in The Boulevard which acts as the main entrance of the hotel, set on the ground floor. Its contemporary black and white patterned Volakas marble floor and mirrored panelled ceiling act as a strong counterpoint to the office lobby outside.

“An early challenge for SRSS was to ensure a strong arrival moment for the guest given the hotel entrance shares a lobby with the office tower and the residences. It was therefore important to give the guest a strong visual impact and to zone the arrival experience of a Waldorf Astoria that could easily compete against the multiple design languages of the adjacent office and residential lobby spaces,” Joshua Judd, director at SSRS, tells Commercial Interior Design.

A mirrored ceiling reflects the floor pattern and sets a strong departure from the design language of the mixed-use lobby. Beyond, a large function room, boardroom, and meeting rooms, completed in warm oak and bronze flank the Waldorf Astoria ‘Living Room’, a space that combines pre-function, show kitchen and a relaxed work-dining experience. From here, guests can access lifts to go to the sky reception on the 18th floor.

The arrival experience at Level 18 features two distinct areas encompassing a welcome lounge and a reception lobby, which is wrapped in a timber inlay with brass accents.

All public areas of the hotel are located across one stretch of floor, however SRSS’s design layout ensures plenty of open space to mingle and discover.

Peacock Alley is the main lounge area forming a link between the reception, the bar, and the cigar lounge to the terrace beyond. The eclectic mid-modern furniture in tan and blue leather is set across central and niche seating options, set against a timber and white perimeter. The Waldorf Clock is set at the centre of the venue as a visual meeting point – and is the only element of the hotel that draws upon the region for inspiration.

The bar area follows the same styling as Peacock Alley, while the back of the cigar bar is clad in brushed bronze that leads into the full height walk-in humidor.

The rooftop lounge, St Trop, was influenced by the spirit of St Tropez. Timber decking inspired by luxury yachts sets the tone for a natural colour palette accented with aquatic tones, while the contemporary and versatile furniture helps to seamlessly transform St Trop from a place to catch some afternoon sun to an evening spot for socialising.

The Spa is made up with warm white marble and black stone trim, with warm oak panels above, while the entrance is enveloped in back-lit sheers.

The guest rooms, which end on the 55th floor offer floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Dubai’s skyline, set against walls that feature a mix of wood panels and textured material.

Volakas marble continues into the guestrooms together with light grey oak timber finishes and ebony trims. The warmer colour scheme in the Executive and Junior Suites includes brown oak and walnut wood as well as bronze details to offering a formidable yet relaxing atmosphere.

“SRSS’S approach to design is to ensure that it’s always client driven, yet practical from an operational point of view. Hilton were heavily involved throughout the design process allowing the design team to meet all operational requirements,” Judd comments

“Understanding the end user and their cultural backgrounds is also essential to executing a successful guestroom that’s unique, comfortable and appreciated by all,” he adds.

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