Tasked with refreshing the Monkey Island Estate, which sits on an island in the middle of the Thames River not too far from London, New York-based design firm Champalimaud created a look that “speaks to the romantic and lively past” of the property, says partner Jon Kastl. “We ended up with a hotel that bridged the old with the new, a place that rerooted itself not only architecturally but also environmentally.”
The Pavilion Room, for example, is awash in blue to reflect the delphiniums and hydrangeas found on the grounds, while a lattice pattern on the walls resembles a garden trellis. The brasserie keeps the bold colors intact, with saffron yellow and turquoise hues bathed in natural light in the window-lined room. “The space feels cozy yet elevated, and overlooks the gardens,” says Kastl. Joining the public spaces, a patio surrounded by the gardens wraps the exterior of the hotel, but even that isn’t the property’s defining outdoor feature.
Sitting on the Thames, the Floating Spa by Spa Village serves as the hotel’s star amenity. “Marrying spa-purpose functionality with the quirkiness of a boat was challenging but fun,” says Melissa Mettler, head of spa planning and development at YTL Hotels, which owns the property. The interiors are inspired by the Apothecaries Barge of 1700s London, employing traditional oak and lower ceilings to create an inviting atmosphere.
The biggest challenge, however, was the limited space available in the guestrooms. Due to the building’s age “we weren’t able to make any major structural changes,” Kastl explains. “So we had to get creative.” Hanging rods built with long dresses and weighty gowns in mind, mini shelves for guests’ personal items, and oversized showers in lieu of bathtubs were all implemented to solve the space issues in a design-forward way. “Monkey Island is meant to be experienced,” says Kastl. “We did not wish to treat it as a simple overnight destination.”