After five years of renovation and construction, Liege’s first and only five-star hotel was recently opened, underlining how imagination and modern design can combine with historic architecture to create a contemporary interior.

The 126-bedroom Crowne Plaza Hotel, also known as Les Comtes de Mean, is located in the historic, cultural and commercial centre of the Belgian city, and was formed by joining together two aristocratic mansions dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, one owned by the Counts of Mean.

Interior design

The interiors of the hotel were designed by the renowned Belgian designer Eric Goffin, a specialist in the luxury hotel sector, whose design vision for the hotel was to provide harmony and coherence between the two original mansions which, built on the side of a hill, had differences in height of nearly 30 metres.  The two mansions are joined by a seven-storey new building in which many of the bedrooms are situated.

“We faced a couple of contradicting challenges.  The first was to create an interior that is unmistakably InterContinental, while still remaining true to the identity of the local environment.  The second was to create a contemporary atmosphere which also preserved the exceptional classical heritage of the property,” explains Eric Goffin.

His vision was to develop designs that encouraged smooth flow and circulation between the old and new parts of the hotel, creating interiors that are both filled with light and surprise.  “I also wanted to incorporate crystal in the project, since there are only five crystal manufacturing facilities left in the world, of which one is located in Liege,” he says.

The result is both timeless and contemporary, fusing history and modernity, and a destination hotel for everyone in the city to also access, with its range of restaurants, business suites, ballroom and spa facilities.  It was important, says Eric, that the residents of the city also felt that the project was theirs.

It is a design philosophy also important for the hotel owners, who want the hotel to be seen as an Urban Resort: a place combining aesthetics, inventiveness, comfort and relaxation, with different parts of the hotel, most open to resident and non-resident alike, adding up to a destination for both locals and visitors.

Design and flooring

Attention to detail throughout the project extended to the choice of floor coverings that were provided by Dutch carpet manufacturer Desso, which has a specialist hospitality division and provides its products for hotels and hotel chains worldwide.

“In this project, the cooperation with Desso enabled me to safeguard my original objectives, creating exactly the right atmosphere, while maintaining a cost-effective flooring solution.  Desso also brought valuable experience with the InterContinental Hotels Group specifications to the project,” says Eric.

For the bedrooms, Eric wanted a striped pattern, although the rooms did not have square shapes and the corridors were arched.  Desso’s solution was to use its Symphony carpet type, a tufted carpet with a custom striped design.

For the corridors, Desso’s recommendation was Gravure P1100 printed carpet, whose print technique allows for sharp round shapes, with the VIP lounge laid with black luxury velvet carpet from the company’s Consumer Carpets collection.  Lastly, the hotel’s meeting rooms are fitted with Libra, a quality product from Desso’s Business Carpets collection which combines both functionality and flexibility.

Cradle to Cradle

The design brief extended to the choice of finishing materials that Eric was able to specify, using only environmentally responsible suppliers and products.  Desso is also committed to the highest environmental standards, and has adopted Cradle to Cradle® design and manufacturing principles, which aim to create products which are either biodegradable or can be recycled in their entirety to provide the raw materials for new products.  By 2020, Desso intends to have all its products designed according to the Cradle to Cradle principles.

Eric Goffin is delighted with the result.  “In the end we succeeded although, in fulfilling any complex and challenging design, it is never a foregone conclusion.  In projects like this it is very important to uphold your ideas and concepts while staying cost-effective.   We got the balance right and the result has reinvented history to create a truly beautiful and modern hotel.”