Muza Lab recently refurbished the ground floor public rooms at the iconic Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town. The new design embraces Belmond values by creating an interior language where the spirit is timeless, authentic and uniquely connected to the heritage and location of the hotel. The layout has been updated so that all who enter the lobby have a framed view into the beautiful garden. The famous Mount Nellie pink of the exterior has been brought in to connect the indoor and outdoor experience.
As the porte cochère is the first impression for guests when they arrive, this area was carefully studied. The design team's wish was that guests would feel Belmond's soul as soon as they drove up to the entrance and the doors of their car were opened. The aim has been to light up the porte cochère and introduce additional layering and texture. The plain white ceilings have been treated like a decorative awning with the introduction of traditional stripes, mirror detailing has been added to niches and, layering created with planting, seating, lamps and texture detail.
In the reception, precious historic elements, such as the fabulous herringbone timber floor, classic wall panelling and the grand old reception desks, remain but have been transformed with the help of the marble top and new paint tones, antique inlaid mirror, soft drapery and soft residential lighting. Key to the design vision has been a connection with the garden; Muza has introduced indoor palms so that the vein of planting is pulled through the entire property. The ceiling, that had suffered from an unsympathetic renovation, has been carefully restored and modern technology sensitively integrated into it to avoid any visual distraction from the historic space. The color palette combines soft pinks, grey and greens; antique aubusson rugs have been chosen and woven to the correct size for the reception, and new artwork installed commissioned from Maria van Rooyen and Jordan Sweke.
The much loved tea lounge has been restored rather than re-invented, with all focus kept on opening up the view to the outside and creating a link to the garden. Furniture and antiques have been reupholstered and new art has been sourced, all by local contemporary artists taking gardens as their theme. The large cake display has been reinvented over two tables.
Creating a conservatory feel, a sun room is filled with light and plants where furniture is more casual than the lounge but no less crafted. Openings between the formal tea lounge and this informal space have been enlarged and new stacking folding doors have been designed in conjunction with the architect all carefully vetted by HWC Heritage Western Cape. These doors ensure that the spirit of the building is maintained while being able to totally fold away to create a traditional South African "stoep" space. A large fireplace at one end anchors the room and, with the help of lots of mirrors and plants, the garden comes right into the room whilst botanical green wallpaper creates interest.
The outdoor terrace is the essence of Belmond's signature qualities - understated, sophisticated and engaged with the natural world around it. The furniture collection is a combination of dining and lounge seating, and natural tones. Planting and lighting have been replanned to add blends of texture and tone.
"In redesigning the entrance and terrace, we were very conscious of our responsibility towards Mount Nelson's unique heritage," said Inge Moore, founder, Muza Lab. "While we have enhanced the guest's emotional experience, we have done this entirely within the spirit of the history of the hotel and its legendary gardens. We are continuing the story, not reinventing it."