The historic James Royal Palm Hotel located in Miami’s famed Art Deco district has been redesigned by Rottet Studio. With an intention of transporting guests into an era of nostalgia, reminiscent of Art Deco Miami, several of the retro-chic features have been seamlessly infused with contemporary comforts.
In 1926, Miami saw a devastating hurricane which razed the city. To resurrect what had been lost, a building boom lasted for the next two decades. The chic new building style which was employed had its roots in the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which would be simply shortened to ‘Art Deco’.
Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is the first 20th-century neighbourhood to be recognised by the National Register of Historic Places. Located on Collins Avenue in South Beach, just steps away from Ocean Boulevard and the crystal blue ocean, The James Royal Palm blends with the other historical structures that dot the street.
Redesigned by Lauren Rottet, founding Principal of Rottet Studio, this hotel housed in a narrow white building is a modern tribute to the local area and Art Deco roots of the historic Royal Palm which was built in 1939.
The entire design vision behind the hotel was to transport guests into an era of nostalgia reminiscent of Art Deco Miami from the 1920s to the 1940s. With a slew of hospitality projects under her belt, being asked to mix Art Deco glamour with a beachy aesthetic left Lauren unfazed.
She skilfully combined past and present, preserved the building’s Art Deco hallmarks, and introduced a string of contemporary conveniences to create a modern classic.
Nostalgia suffuses the spaces, from the expansive lobby with its palm-printed Bauhaus chairs, olive and white curtains, love seats and potted plants, to the bubble lamps in the guest rooms. Many signature design elements original to the hotel were kept intact, such as the grand sweeping staircase on the first floor, a decorative compass rose on the terrazzo floor in the lobby and porthole windows in the lounge.
The green glass, Art Deco-style fresh juice bar in the hotel lobby (now restored and converted), used to be the Royal Palm’s front desk in the 1940s.Outside, a “moon gate” made of shrubbery frames the front entrance and provides privacy for the living room garden behind, which features oversized topiary lawn furniture including chairs, sofas and lounges.
There are two swimming pools, a plunge pool, poolside bar, a beachfront restaurant, a lobby lounge, a full-service spa and over 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The hotel enjoys rather spectacular ocean views, so all 393 studios and suites were designed to emphasise this aspect. In fact, each room has a mirror strategically placed so as to ensure that a beach view is possible from multiple vantage points.
Aiming to deliver a more residential feel, there are studio suites, lofts, apartments and penthouse loft suites in addition to standard guest rooms. Some of the rooms are larger than many city apartments and are awash with natural light, emphasised by white walls, cabinetry and linens. This is offset by rich wood accents and splashes of ocean-inspired shades of green and aqua that reflect the Art Deco District.
Signature guest room elements include a custom designed wooden headboard that extends along the wall to a work/dining niche, featuring a table adorned with a sunken blue glass top; simple and clean white lacquer bed stands; and a floral rug employing shades of cerulean and sea blue. The majority of rooms offer step-out balconies, large windows and uncompromised views of the Atlantic Ocean, Miami cityscape and Biscayne Bay.
Lauren Rottet was the official curator for the James Royal Palm’s permanent art collection entitled “An Ocean Apart”, referring to the unique micro-culture found in Miami – the confluence of American, European and Latin American cultures, all of whom are unified by the lure of the ocean and the coastal culture found within the city. “The hotel’s collection features an eclectic array of art from local artists as well as nationally and internationally recognised art world luminaries,” says Lauren.
The private collection of paintings, photographs, prints, furniture and specially-commissioned pieces are spread throughout 200,000 sq. ft. of guestrooms and 70,000 sq. ft. of public spaces.
Says Lauren: “The best possible approach to design combines architecture, craft, graphics, lighting, and art into our environments.” Staying true to the Art Deco heritage, this hotel showcases a retro-fabulous style that reflects its beach and Latin American ambience. Rottet Studio’s iteration offers a nuanced take on the architecturally classic structure.
Text By Devyani Jayakar
Photographs Eric Laignel