Transforming a Mid-century Athenian building into a new Hotel Experience
On May 8th 2021, SAY hotel opened its doors to locals and tourists becoming the newest destination in Kefalari, Greece. The Yfantis Group invited A&M to renovate an existing 1950’s 5-story building into the newest SAY hotel experience, marking it the next big move of Yfantis family’s hospitality business. Located next to Alsos Kefalariou, in a leafy Athens suburb, the hotel’s new architecture is characterized by its rhythmic geometric facade, giving it a strong exterior form, and a contrasting interior of rich, colorful, textured materials used to create a variety of social spaces and guest rooms. Bold in its presence, yet soft in its essence, the SAY hotel uses architectural elements, colors and textures to communicate the multifaceted personality of the SAY Hotel brand at this new landmark.
The challenge in redesigning the existing building revolved around keeping solely the structural framing while stripping away the façade in its entirety, something that gave limitless options in creating a new identity suitable for its prestigious location. The new hotel’s strong character is communicated through black and white elements, creating a timeless first impression. The size and orientation of the site gives way to an intentional blend of vertical whitewashed slender louvers contrasted by dark portrait balconies in repetition across the façade, while imitating patterns of their lush surroundings. The façade’s vertical geometry visually lifts the building’s mass, while the transparent ground floor presents an approachable streetfront to outside passerbys. At the same time, a cantilevered canopy cuts through the building’s façade, emphasizing the strategically placed entry parallel to the street’s traffic.
Upon entering SAY hotel, the visitor suddenly engages with a contrasting spatial experience compared to the exterior. A curated combination of bold colors, elements and shapes, authentic art pieces by Giannis Adamakos, and furniture from different eras and cultures convey the eclectic personality of this building. With fabrics, textures and the predominance of velvet expressing a feeling of nostalgia, the lobby exudes a bold palette of colors awash with intense natural light penetrating the perimeter of the ground floor level. A wide, central core dressed in walnut wood finish with gentle curves acts as a central orientation device, directing visitors to different areas of the hotel.
The interior design gives special emphasis to the "parallel" social activities of the hotel. All the ground floor spaces host different uses and offer different experiences, including a new brand restaurant called “Nobilis” with newly crafted menu; a greenhouse Parisian bistro dedicated for coffee and tea; as well as a dedicated library hosting some of the most important art publications, used for professional meetings or relaxing in a living room environment during the day. The Main goal for the atmosphere of each space is to create memories and unique experiences for the visitor.
Moving away from public spaces, a spiral 60’s elegant staircase draws visitors up to the 28 unique guest rooms on the upper floors. As one ascends, a full height glass wall offers views to the autumn maple leaves and the garden of the Latsis Foundation with elements taken from a novel by Jane Austen. The scenic views to the outside became a source of inspiration and created a need to connect the indoor to the outdoor. Using the spiral staircase to reach the upper floors a new kind of experience arrives. Dark corridors convey a sense of mystery, and lead to a series of rooms, divided into 5 different typologies based on material palettes, colors, scale and tailor-made elements.
From the bed’s headboard to the open concept wardrobe and the bathroom’s amenities, all rooms feature custom-made furniture, crafted in wood and detailed in metal brass joineries. A unique approach for all spaces and textures allows different identities to be experienced in each room while even the bathrooms have carefully selected materials such as mosaic and terrazzo. Finally, a connecting element ties the indoor to the outdoor in the most poetic way. Juliet balconies, allow a portrait view to the lush surroundings and bring sunlight into each room, creating a playful scenery between light & shadow.
Crowning this hospitality experience, the building allows for one more hidden gem, only best understood through experience. A 360-rooftop space with the hotel’s signature wine & cocktail bar becomes a destination not only for the residents but for outside visitors as well. The rooftop’s height brings its visitors a fully immersive experience and the feeling of freedom is intensified once realizing that you’re almost sitting above the trees. This flexible year-round space transforms into fully enclosed or completely open air, depending on the season. Even during winter weather, a completely transparent enclosure allows usage and 360 views. This space has the ability to host events similarly to the other common spaces of the building, allowing a wider audience to approach SAY hotel.
Main goal for the atmosphere of each space is to create memories and different experiences for the visitor using the building. For this purpose, and to develop engaging spaces, an eclectic style contrasted by textures and colors, is leading to harmony and coexistence of different styles, all creating a coherent, beautifully realized space.