Between special features and restrained elegance Image 1

Between special features and restrained elegance

The ground floor of the Le Méridien design hotel, on the Opernring section of Vienna’s famous ring road, has become an exciting, extravagant location that brings together the old and the new, offering modern living with an old-world charm. A variety of Pfleiderer products played an important role in ensuring harmony within BEHF Architects’ contrasting architectural concept and making the ambitious design a reality.
Text: Jule Milbrett Photos: © Rupert Steiner

Between special features and restrained elegance Image 2


A brand of the “Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide” Group
International chain of four and five-star hotels
Founded in 1972 by Air France
Over 100 hotel locations worldwide
Hotels in 35 countries around the globe
“Méridien” translates as “Meridian” – the semi-circular lines of longitude that stretch around the globe. This jet-setting name emphasises the brand’s international outlook
Le Méridien is an international chain of four and five-star hotels with over 120 branches all over the world. Its Vienna hotel is situated in the centre of the city, on the section of the grand ring road between the State Opera House and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The luxury hotel boasts over 294 stylishly furnished rooms and suites. “Le Méridien Vienna” first opened its doors in 2003. After 13 years and a change of ownership, it was felt that this Viennese institution needed to reinvent itself – and so it was that the high-class hotel relaunched with a plush new image in September 2016.

It all began over lunch. Architect Stephan Ferenczy had met up with the hotel’s director to discuss the hotel’s potential and options for the future. “It quickly became clear that there was a whole raft of opportunities for further development,” the CEO of BEHF Architects remembers. “After we had completed a couple of small projects and the ownership of the hotel changed, the decision was made to give the entire ground floor a full refurbishment.”

The aim of this project was to develop a new structure for the public areas of the building ensemble – corner houses under listed building protection – to provide better orientation and present a modern interior with a worldly ambience. The original entrance to the hotel was moved. From the new front door, guests walk through a polished-brass vestibule and into the well-lit reception hall. Contemporary art, reception furniture with reflective brass profiles and tinted, mirrored pillars would be the main attractions in this area. “As a contrast to this, we chose a matt black surface by Pfleiderer for the service furniture. This has a very high-class feel, although it naturally fades into the background with all the glamour around it. This product is also silken-soft to the touch – which is a real bonus, as it is in an area where it will actually be touched by the guests,” explains Stephan Ferenczy. “In the XTreme Matt texture in volcanic black, the consultant chose a surface that was extremely hard-wearing and resistant to fingerprints and other greasy marks. This ensures that the elegance of the furniture is not disturbed, even after sustained use in the reception area,” adds Christian Schneider, Property Consultant at Pfleiderer.

“As a contrast to the cool, genteel class of the reception hall, we populated this area with light, warm surfaces to create a calm and comfortable atmosphere where guests can feel at home and relax.”

Stephan Ferenczy, Architect
At the end of the reception hall, sunk just below ground level, is the spacious breakfast and lunch restaurant. The glass roofs let in plenty of natural light, while hanging gardens with real plants add a sense of lightness and wellbeing. “Throughout the entire project, we worked a lot with shade, lighting moods, differences in texture and profile, and nuances and variations on our themes,” says Stephan Ferenczy. “As a contrast to the cool, genteel class of the reception hall, we populated this area with light, warm surfaces to create a calm and comfortable atmosphere where guests can feel at home and relax,” the architect explains. Together with the adjacent open spaces, the spacious breakfast and lunch restaurant can cater for parties of up to 3,000 guests.

One of the key architectural tweaks in the reorganisation of the building was the conversion of the old reception – with its myriad pillars and relatively low ceiling – into a restaurant with a bar. It is now a sequence of rooms – in soft, dark, colours, with a snug, laid-back feel – that can be used both during the day and in the evenings. “We continued the theme of light and dark surfaces in the adjacent rooms, too, in order to combine the sense of homeliness with classy comfort”, Stephan Ferenczy explains.

The project and the associated building work were completed very quickly without ever closing the hotel for business. Reliable partners are essential in mastering these kinds of schedule and logistical challenges. “Pfleiderer offers a great variety of well-proven, extremely high-quality products. The range of surfaces, decors and textures in their portfolio is huge. They also guarantee full product availability at all times, which means I can get hold of identical products of the same quality really quickly for any extensions or additions to the architecture. This is great when it comes to the crunch. As an architect, I know how important availability can be when I’m working on a project with a wide range of potential and option.”