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Holland’s first Hotel Indigo is in a building once home to Dutch Bank and Nederlandse Bank in the Noordeinde district in The Hague. It counts the Royal Palace, the Dutch government and the International Court of Justice among its neighbours.
1. King Willem-Alexander receives guests on Wednesday mornings.
The hotel is opposite the Royal Palace. On Wednesday mornings, King Willem-Alexander receives new ambassadors. They arrive by state coach, escorted by horsemen from the Royal Netherlands Mounted Police.
A guard of honour and military band is stationed at Noordeinde Palace. After an honorary salute of four drum rolls, the national anthem of the ambassador’s country is played, followed by an inspection of the guard. The whole thing can be seen from the guest rooms on the Noordeinde Street side of the hotel.
2. The Dutch Bank once had two entrances.
By 1883, Noordeinde 33 was ready to house the Dutch bank in The Hague, but the building proved to be too small, so the adjacent shopping complex on Heulstreet was bought.
From 1925 to 1927, a substantial renovation took place to create one big building with a new art deco facade, something which proved crucial in our design. We wanted to create one entrance for the hotel and one for the restaurant, but the bank only had one entrance. However, when researching the architectural history of the building, we discovered that there used to be a second entrance (later turned into a window).
This meant we were able to get permission to reconstruct the original door, and give the restaurant its own entrance just as we hoped.
3. What Queen Wilhelmina says goes.
At the time of the 1927 rebuilding and expansion, Queen Wilhelmina (having her Palace across the street) had a lot to say about the exterior. She pointed out which windows got lattice work and views and which did not. And she didn’t allow building companies to advertise on the building fences, something we’re respecting to this day.
4. Creativity helps you to get the most out of out what’s already there.
One of the most important starting points for this design was the building itself and its historical and architectural elements such as the marble, stained glass, mosaics, ornaments and woodwork that are characteristic to buildings like this.
The beautiful panelling on the office walls was disassembled so we could use it to create headboards. Cabinets and steel doors were re-used, especially in public areas where they would have the most impact. Old doors from the cashiers were transformed into tables. Although we had the most wonderful materials to work with, it does limit what’s possible.
You have to be very creative to make sure you get the most out of what’s available.
5. The devil is in the detail.
Every space and every room is not only unique in size, but also in form. Our concept was that guests should have a unique experience, even if they visit the hotel multiple times, so we designed three room types: Royal Residence, Court Capital and Lofty Living.
We had to detail everything in every room because every part of the building is unique. This makes procurement difficult, and increases the chances of errors, so it takes a lot of time, but a building like this deserves such a detailed interior, so it is worth it.
6. One inspiration can result in lots of ideas.
When the bank closed its doors in 1994, it was impossible to remove the massive doors of the safes where the gold reserves were held. These doors are still a key feature and safes provide a repeating motif throughout the hotel.
We designed a multifunctional steel safe for every room, containing a safe (of course), a minibar, coffee and tea supplies and storage space—you have to turn the wheel to open it, just like a real safe. The original safes are positioned in the basement, where they are not very visible. We wanted guests to experience these extraordinary spaces, so we created a “speakeasy” bar, meeting rooms and breakfast rooms.
7. Trust is a crucial part of the design process.
We were given carte blanche. That trust, together with regular communication, enabled the beautiful end result. It was great to work with someone as dedicated and enthusiastic as Henry Reeve and we constantly felt he had faith in our work. The best moment of the whole project was our virtual reality presentation—seeing the customers walk through the rooms and react with such excitement.