The Palm Court is an Edinburgh institution, located in the historic Balmoral Hotel. The project aim was to transform the central hotel space from a bar area into a light and airy lobby lounge for afternoon tea with twice as many covers.
Original historic and listed features had to be treated with the utmost care whilst the restoration and reworking of the room took place. The original Victorian Venetian chandeliers, pillars, cornicing and glass dome dictated a classically elegant framework for the design that badly needed modernising. The large bar was removed to allow additional seating and the oak block floor restored. The bar was no longer required as a new whiskey bar had recently been created in the hotel.
Olga Polizzi worked with local suppliers and brought in subtle local references such as the thistle patterned material named ‘Edinburgh’ by Bernard Thorpe. Contemporary tonal greys are contrasted by splashes of dynamic bright blue whilst the traditional colonial palm trees inject green which is then taken up through further soft furnishings throughout the room. The walls have specially commissioned hand-painted De Gournay wallpaper with well known follies of Edinburgh incorporated into the landscape.
The wallpaper was erected on large wall panels set around the octagon shaped room. Guests are entertained as they spot the Scottish national heritage Calton Hill Follies amongst which are Nelson’s Monument and the City Observatory. Traditional Scottish foliage was also added to the scenery, only spotted by the most perceptive of guests.
Equally important was the grouping and spacing of furniture, which had to allow guests to pass through the Palm Court to other areas of the hotel, whilst minimising disturbance and ensuring privacy for those enjoying tea. Olga Polizzi created an inner and outer circle of seating areas for the guest’s comfort. In addition to the practical, the room is a truly ‘transportive’ space which gives a real sense of occasion as soon as guests set foot into it.