Magical floors at The Prestige hotel

by Ofentse Sefolo
Magical floors at The Prestige hotel
Ministry of Design's latest hospitality project is also "modern, colonial and tropical Victorian"

Multi-disciplinary firm, Ministry of Design (MOD), has developed a reputation for conceptualising projects that are equal part delightful and distinctive. Its latest project, The Prestige hotel in Penang, Malaysia delivers on both fronts.

The Prestige hotel is an independent bespoke luxury hotel portraying the natural and urban beauty of Penang’s historic core. Uniquely one of a kind, the hotel draws upon the cultural relevance of its colonial past whilst showcasing the art of illusion etched in sophisticated architectural and design philosophies to deliver a distinctive hotel stay experience.

Named “The Prestige” to conjure brand imagery of elegance and sophistication, it also takes cues from the movie The Prestige starring Christian Bale, which was set in the Victorian era and is about the illusory art of magic.

Located along Church Street in the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town, the Prestige hotel is a new-build inspired by Victorian design. It is set amongst impressive and intricate 19th century English colonial buildings, which still house banking and commercial facilities, in a tropical climate where lush vegetation abounds.

The hotel features 162 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant, a rooftop infinity pool, events pavilion and terrace, and a vibrant Victorian dining and retail arcade. It is located 25 minutes from Penang’s international airport and within walking distance of Penang’s famous cultural landmarks and popular gourmet hotspots.

Magic design
While the colonial Victorian heritage and tropics are key elements of the design concept, the studio was challenged by the site’s long narrow proportions which potentially made navigating the hotel’s retail arcade or its long guest room corridors a monotonous experience. To overcome this, the studio introduced elements of visual trickery and surprise, notions of magic and illusions, with the end goal being to create delightful spaces and memorable guest experiences.

Floor trickery
This element of visual trickery is subtly introduced throughout the 162-room hotel, ranging from transformation of familiar heritage floor patterns, furniture design such as the custom reception desk that seems to magically balance on balls, to hidden doors in guestrooms that open to reveal toilets and pantries.

For example, MOD alternated dark and light colour schemes along the guest room corridors to break down the potential monotony of the corridor experience. Mechanised light features were placed at regular intervals to rotate and cast shadows of intricate lattice patterns to animate the guest journey.

Bronze and brass
A key feature in the Premier Deluxe Suite is the custom-designed shower and wardrobe enclosure, crafted with champagne bronze tinted metal and glass; a hero piece which takes aesthetic cues from the elaborate magic props used in performances such as Houdini’s escape box.

Another custom design piece is the vanity mirror frame. Abstracted from Victorian mirrors that are usually heavy and elaborate, and modernised with its angular form, polished brass and integrated light. This feature plays on optical illusion and perception, appearing as two mirrors while floating as a frame on top of a horizontal mirror wall.

Glass dining
The inspiration for The Glasshouse came from the English Victorian conservatory. The studio applied a lattice pattern to the metal framed walls and glazing to emulate this. The Glasshouse restaurant, seating 110 diners, presents as a delightful garden conservatory for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

A mix of real plants and tropical prints were used for the sofa cushions to add to the allure of being in a “tropical Eden”. The mirror, a universal tool for the magician, is deliberately used to clad the end walls to create the optical illusion of multiple rooms.

Journey on
Taking the lift to the room levels on two and three and to the event spaces on level four, one discovers a confluence of modern Victorian layered with local botany.

In the lift car, the studio custom-designed a floor-to-ceiling polished tinted metal wall that graphically presents the unique features of Penang in an aesthetic that is reminiscent of Victorian-like wallpaper. The graphic pattern comprises etched outlines of heritage buildings, famous landmarks and the local botany of Penang such as coconut trees, birds of paradise, hibiscus and Pinang palm trees.

Movie reference
The top floor, level 4, houses a generous events area and a fully equipped gym amidst chandeliers and mirrored ceiling panels to create the optical illusion of infinite space. Named after the lead characters in The Prestige movie, the Angier and Borden Function Rooms can host indoor events for 110 guests, and the Olivia and Julia outdoor gazebos contain lounge settings. The Angier and Borden Function Rooms feature mullions with fluted glass, providing privacy while maintaining light and porosity.

Magical place
Visit the Prestige hotel for a hospitality experience that is intuitive and enthusiastic while delivering the ultimate comfort and technology for a distinctive hotel stay experience.

Location: Penang, Malaysia
Completion: 2019
Site area: 3,725m²
Gross floor area: 8,570m²
Developer: Public Packages Holdings
Architect: KL Wong

For more information on this magical project visit: http://modonline.com/projects/the-prestige

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