Rosebank Hotel: Bristol

WORDS Mila Crewe-Brown PHOTOS Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes

Setting the pace for design-minded comfort, Bristol is the new Joburg hotel in Rosebank that refuses to fit in.

A lounge with plush sofas and coffee tables festooned with the kind of books you’d collect for your own home, bunches of flowers and an open-plan kitchen-dining area; this is the scene that greets guests at Rosebank’s new Bristol hotel. Bristol Rosebank is part of a new breed of lifestyle hotel that’s all about blurring the lines between outstanding service and home-from-home comfort. Having entrusted the design to Tonic Design’s Greg Gamble and Philippe van der Merwe, a unique approach to the hotel experience emerged that challenges the status quo.

It’s the duo’s bold use of colour that is immediately obvious, eschewing the safe neutral-to-greige spectrum for rust, mustard, emerald, moss and butterscotch shades that wrap entire rooms and cover sofas and armchairs. It’s a clash that works, invigorating the interior and providing a punch that hotels here have not yet seen. Part of this can be attributed to the Johannesburg traits they wanted Bristol to reflect, one of which was energy, the others being luxury and vibrancy. With just 28 rooms, all of them unique in some way, Bristol could afford to be distinctive.

“Everything has been custom designed for this space specifically,” Philippe says. Barring a couple of high-end original lighting designs by brands like Vibia, one of which hangs over the stairwell spanning two to three floors, and some James Mudge chairs. “With so few rooms, we could afford to do something different,” he adds. The inventory is uncomplicated and the hotel small, but what they do, is done with distinction. Here, guests slumber on Hypnos beds (approved by the Royals), sip on the city’s best coffee courtesy of Father and are treated to the cream of the South African artist crop.

In keeping with Tonic’s belief that art lends interiors depth, the hotel features a glut of works, all of them originals by prominent South African artists. You’ll find names like Michele Mathison, Walter Battiss, Cecil Skotnes and Sam Nhlengethwa, among other greats, featured throughout and giving guests a taste of our country’s art pedigree. Objet and accessories fill the rooms, avoiding the standard hotel mould. Books on design, art and lifestyle, small sculptures and a collection of incredible ceramics share space, lending Bristol a lived-in feel that appeals to those seeking a styled dose of comfort from their travels.

The open-plan kitchen amplifies the intimate atmosphere of the hotel, where guests can see what is being prepared and, if they like, gather around a large communal table for a meal. Here, emerald green tiles wrap the walls, Lievore Altherr’s Tempo wall lamp makes an appearance and a shelf teeming with trailing plants and ceramics envelops the room. The fruit bowl is always full and a cabinet of midnight snacks awaits.

Bristol is the first of the Home* Suite Hotels to open; another will open in Sandown, followed by two more, all of them expertly put together by Tonic.

Soon there’ll even be a resident rescue dog joining the team at Bristol. Are you surprised?

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