British interior design studio Faber created a Victorian-influenced scheme for the newly renovated George Hotel in Cambridgeshire. Using a large collection of bespoke and off-the-shelf lighting fixtures, the team created a vibrant, homely and stylish destination.
The George Hotel in Buckden, Cambridgeshire, has survived as a hospitality venue since it was built in the 18th Century. But like many businesses in this sector, 2020 was probably the toughest year it’s faced for decades. It was bought during UK national lockdown by local creative Roberta Goody, who has a strong personal connection to the hotel. Having always felt so welcome as a guest, she was eager to employ creative partners Faber to transform the public areas of the Grade II listed building.
Goody’s love of Victoriana was a key inspiration for the new design scheme. And as a creative writer, she fell in love with Faber’s narrative-led concept, which tells the love story of traveller and inventor ‘George’ and local lady ‘Mary’ (named after a nearby church).
Offering ‘contemporary luxury inspired by a time gone by’, there are subtle nods to the personalities of these fictional characters in talking points throughout the ground floor, with each area having an individual look and feel despite being interconnected by a common design language.
The colonial-inspired restaurant is a nod to George’s love of travel, and the botanical-themed orangery plays on Mary’s passion for nature. Bobbie’s Lounge & Bar is inspired by a Victorian Gentleman’s Club and features a glamorous signature cocktail bar that wouldn’t look out of place in Paris.
Consistency is key to Faber’s work. “We take a holistic approach to the guest experience by paying close attention to each customer touchpoint. Every single design detail must reflect the concept, in this case, the story of Mary and George. And the lighting is no exception. It’s an integral part of the guest experience and at The George it’s all about creating the feeling that they’re being whisked away to another time”, says Faber’s Creative Director Tony Matters. “In addition to creating ambience, all fittings need to operate as functional task lighting because the use of downlights was kept to a minimum. It was also important that the pieces would be as visible during the day as they are at night because brunch and lunch form an important part of The George’s trade.”
Large showpiece fixtures are a key feature in each of the spaces, which are also home to smaller lighting details in everything from fabric and glass, to cast iron and brass. Whether it’s the bespoke picture rail lighting illuminating George’s family portraits in the lobby and Mary’s botanical artwork in the orangery—or the hot-air-balloon-shaped glass lamps in the lounge area that depict George’s love of invention and travel – the ornate lighting is a nod to the story’s setting of Victorian England, and key to creating a sense of classic elegance.
Ambience is integral to The George’s appeal, with skylights and decorative light fittings creating a feeling of old-fashioned glamour day and night. The two work particularly well in the lobby, restaurant, and orangery – the latter of which features a show-stopping handmade glass chandelier inside the extensive lightwell.
From standard lamps in the lounge area to table lamps on the bar and pendant lamps in the powder room, every source of light is decorative and atmospheric, integral to ensuring that guests step into another world when they visit The George.