The best designed hotels, restaurants and tourist transport in 2019

From a space-aged spa in Greece to an American diner in Oxfordshire: The best-designed hotels, restaurants and tourist transport in 2019 revealed

  • Ahead, the Awards for Hospitality Experience and Design, handed out 18 awards at a ceremony in London
  • Big winner was the Palazzo Daniele in Italy, winner of the hotel of year and best guestroom gongs
  • Euphoria Spa in Greece, Le Champlain cruise ship and an Icelandic lagoon lodge also picked up prizes

These award-winners are all very different concepts, but they have one thing in common – they look mighty fine.

They are the stunning hotels, restaurants and modes of tourist transport that have been named the best for design in Europe in 2019 by Ahead, the Awards for Hospitality Experience and Design, which handed out gongs in 18 categories at a ceremony in London earlier this week. 

The big winner was the Palazzo Daniele in Italy, a 158-year-old aristocratic mansion that scooped two awards – hotel of the year and best guestrooms.

It’s a place, the judges said, ‘where ancient and ultra-modern seamlessly co-exist’. 

Other winners included the futuristic Euphoria Spa in Greece, which was named best spa, the swanky Le Champlain cruise ship, which won the award for best transport, and the incredible Retreat at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, winner of best resort hotel.

Scroll down to see the hospitality industry on the catwalk…

Ahead Europe Hotel of the Year – Palazzo Daniele, Gagliano del Capo, Italy

Palazzo Daniele is a 158-year-old aristocratic mansion that has been transformed into an intimate nine-bedroom hotel. Judges named it the Ahead Europe Hotel of the Year, a place ‘where ancient and ultra-modern seamlessly co-exist’

Guestrooms – Palazzo Daniele, Gagliano del Capo, Italy

Palazzo Daniele scooped a second award for its guestrooms, which are described as being ‘stripped back as much as possible, without compromising the building’s structural integrity’. Judges noted that its furnishings and motifs ‘blur the lines between art and function’

Bar, club or lounge – Soho House Amsterdam

Soho House Amsterdam, situated in the historic Bungehuis building, scooped its award for creating a ‘casual exciting space which reflects Amsterdam’s vibrant and diverse culture while staying true to the building’s DNA’. The judges added: ‘There is a real sense of place throughout which perfectly matches the building’s architecture’

Event spaces – Cinema Paradiso at Puro Lódź, Poland

Lódź in Poland is home to one of the oldest film schools in the world, so design firm Superfutures took this as their inspiration when designing the event space for the city’s Puro Hotel. The judges were impressed saying it ‘successfully creates a multi-functional space fit for conferences, private events and film screenings’

Hotel conversion – The Langley, Iver, Buckinghamshire

The Langley is a majestic stately home that has been restored to its former glory. The judges said: ‘The Grade-II listed status has been honoured while creating an opulent country retreat with a high-end residential feel’

Hotel new build – Mollie’s Motel & Diner, Buckland, Oxfordshire 

Mollie’s is a 1950s-style American motel, diner and drive-thru that is the latest concept by Soho House & Co. The judges described it as ‘an innovative concept of roadside dining that has become a local darling’. They added: ‘It is a design based on quality and simplicity which deserves to be seen in many more locations’ 

Hotel renovation & restoration – Heckfield Place, Hampshire

Heckfield Place, a ‘charming Grade II-listed Georgian house’ originally built in the 18th century, has been ‘carefully re-imagined and thoughtfully restored’ by architects Spratley & Partners in collaboration with interior designers BWT London. The 46-bedroom estate is also home to a working farm, centred on ‘sustainability and biodynamic farming principles’

Landscaping & outdoor spaces – Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden, Palma, Mallorca

Can Bordoy hosts over 70 different plant species including the Lledoner (European Hackberry) tree, which is seen as a symbol of welcome in Mallorcan homes. The judges said: ‘It has been mindfully landscaped to offer additional privacy for hotel guests’

Lobby & public spaces – Belmond Cadogan Hotel, London

Built in 1887, the Belmond Cadogan Hotel has been ‘a storied character’ in the Kensington and Chelsea area of London. Judges congratulated G.A Group’s ‘clever reworking of the old entrance to make to make it feel light, airy and inviting’

Lodges, cabins and tented camps – Manshausen 2.0, Manshausen Island, Norway

Set within a 55-acre private island, Manshausen 2.0 is a collection of contemporary and sustainable cabins built along the existing topography and constructed mostly of wood. The judges applauded the ‘sustainable design approach and striking setting’

Best resort hotel – The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Built directly into an 800-year-old lava flow in the heart of the Reykjanes Unesco Global Geopark, the Retreat at Blue Lagoon encompasses a subterranean spa, geothermal lagoon, a traditional Icelandic restaurant, and a 62-suite luxury hotel encircled by the Blue Lagoon’s mineral-rich waters

Best restaurant – Neni at 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord, Paris

Neni in Paris scooped the best restaurant award after judges were taken with how it was designed with ‘women in mind’. It is described as having ‘cosy lounge chairs upholstered with lush velvet in pastel tones, pink marble and copper paired with oak parquet flooring and colourful vintage kilim rugs with floral motifs’

Best spa & wellness – Euphoria Retreat, Mystras, Greece

The Euphoria Spa is at the heart of the Euphoria Retreat in Greece. The building is carved into the base of a mountain, set between the town and forest. Judges agreed that the futuristic-looking spa was ‘executed in exemplary fashion to meet the varied health needs of its guests’

Best suite – Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, Kourouta, Greece

Dexamenes Seaside Hotel was constructed from a derelict, industrial building that was once part of an abandoned wine factory left untouched since the 1920s. The judges described the project as ‘the height of unpretentious luxury’

Best visual identity – Amerikalinjen, Oslo, Norway

Amerikalinjen once housed the Norwegian American Line offices, which were responsible for transporting Norwegian citizens across the Atlantic to America. It is now home to boutique hotel Amerikalinjen. Judges were impressed with how the ‘themes of travel and navigation are woven throughout the hotel’s character’

Best new concept – The Audo, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Audo is described as ‘Copenhagen’s answer to a hotel that truly offers everything’ from hotel rooms, restaurants, cafes, a concept store, material library, and creative and event space’

Best transport – Le Champlain by Pontant

Le Champlain, named after famous explorer Samuel de Champlain, is the second in a fleet of six new vessels from Ponant. It won the transport award as judges noted that its design ‘expresses its unique character and atmosphere by adopting naturally soft tones with shades of celadon green, which form a counterpoint to the roughness of some materials and graphic patterns’

Outstanding contribution – Christoph Hoffmann, 25hours Hotel Company

Hoffmann founded 25hours Hotel Company in 2005 together with his partners, Kai Hollmann, Ardi Goldman and Stephan Gerhard. Since then he has led the group from a single property in Hamburg to a global portfolio of 13 hotels. With help from hospitality heavyweight AccorHotels, 25hours has developments in Florence and Dubai slated for 2020 and Copenhagen in 2021


Ahead Europe Hotel of the Year – Palazzo Daniele, Gagliano del Capo, Italy

Bar, Club or Lounge – Soho House Amsterdam

Event Spaces – Cinema Paradiso at PURO Lódź, Poland

Guestrooms – Palazzo Daniele, Gagliano del Capo, Italy

Hotel Conversion – The Langley, Iver, England

Hotel New Build – Mollie’s Motel & Diner, Buckland, England

Hotel Renovation – Heckfield Place, Hampshire

Landscaping & Outdoor Spaces – Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden, Palma, Mallorca

Lobby & Public Spaces – Belmond Cadogan Hotel, London

Lodges, Cabins & Tented Camps – Manshausen 2.0, Manshausen Island, Norway

Resort Hotel – The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Restaurant – NENI at 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord, Paris

Spa & Wellness – Euphoria Retreat, Mystras, Greece

Suite – Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, Kourouta, Greece

Transport – Ponant, Le Champlain

Visual Identity – Amerikalinjen, Oslo, Norway

New Concept – The Audo, Copenhagen, Denmark

Outstanding contribution – Christoph Hoffmann, 25hours Hotel Company

Source: Ahead Awards

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