Virtuoso Life - May/June 2018 - 124
Point of View
Deputy chairman and director
of design, Rocco Forte Hotels
THREE PEOPLE WHO KNOW
DISCUSS: WELCOMING HOTELS.
INTERVIEWS BY MARIKA CAIN
V I RT U O S O L I F E
IT'S REALLY THE BASICS THAT YOU'VE GOT TO GET
right to begin with. You can design the same space 150 different ways, and they can be good or absolutely ghastly. If you get
the architectural space right - the heights, the doors, the enfilade - then already you feel comfortable. However much you
put in pretty curtains and sofas, if the space is badly planned,
it's never going to feel comfortable.
Downstairs can be quite creative. It's always nice to bring
a smile to people's lips. But upstairs has to look and feel very,
very clean. It mustn't feel like you've had 150 people in before.
Then you have to get the obvious things right. Simple lighting
that anyone can understand: I was in a hotel the other day
in Milan, and I just could not turn off the lighting at night. I
pushed every button, did everything. That's really annoying.
I like leaving areas free. Everyone fills every single surface
in a hotel room with pamphlets, leaflets, notices. I always just
tidy them up in a pile and put them to the side, so you've got
somewhere to put your own stuff. Hotels are always trying to
advertise something that's downstairs. I think if people want
to go out and have dinner in the city, they're not going to be
tempted by a pamphlet telling them about your restaurant.
Another thing that hotels never do right is fruit. They have a
bowl of hard, uneatable fruit. It looks nice, but I'd rather have
a bowl of one thing - cherries or strawberries or tangerines -
something you can eat easily.
Local art immediately gives you the feeling of the city
you're in. It's amazing how different the art is from Munich to
Berlin or even from Berlin to Florence. Music I'm not so keen
on all the time. I think people are frightened of quiet. Actually, it's rather nice to sit quietly now and again and not have
Muzak blasted at you.
I've still to find the perfect hotel! I think that the de Russie in
Rome is very good. I think Brown's in London at its best is very
good. My brother [Rocco Forte] really majors in service. We try
not to have anyone at our hotels who's not really charming.