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Hotel Verta is a contemporary ‘first’ – it’s the only integrated hotel heliport in Europe. The aviation theme suddenly makes sense. Onraet calls it the city’s “Vertical Gateway”.

television screens set into the walls outside the meeting rooms. Highflying and fast driving are both metaphors

and muses for the interior design. “If Hotel Verta was a car,” states Onraet, “it would be a 35 Bugatti.” This racing car was the first automobile that could be driven both on roads and in races. He continues, “The Bugatti’s sleek well crafted design and use of high quality materials is what we set out to achieve. Look at the polished plaster walls in the hotel – they will only improve with age.” Full height cream leather headboards in the

bedrooms have the luxurious texture of a vintage car interior. Of course the 35 Bugatti combined classic looks and comfort with the latest technology of the day. Each bedroom is equipped with the latest audiovisual gear all operable from a bedside control panel. There’s even a television in the bathroom; perfect for relaxing in the bath to watch The Big Sleep.


In the forecourt a Bentley, Porsche and Rolls

Royce Phantom await guests wishing to travel by car rather than helicopter. “Perhaps we should have a 1940s racing car as well!” smiles Onraet. He cites film noir as another source of

inspiration for Hotel Verta. Hollywood’s classic film noir period was the 1940s. Unusually the genre is strongly associated with a visual style, a low key black and white aesthetic. Film noir is rooted in German Expressionism which embraced symbolism and exploited mise-en-scène to optimise ambience. Stranger on the Third Floor directed by Boris Ingster is recognised as being the first true film noir. Mise-en-scène – the comprehensive

composition of a scene to include clothing, lighting, setting and placement of objects – is a concept that is inherent to Hotel Verta. Nothing is left to chance. Even the lettering: the use of an inverted V for A refers again to ascent and descent. The font? Why,

Battersea typeface. “As an architect I’m involved in all aspects of the hotel,” explains Onraet. “Everything is visual in one way or another. It’s film noir with a contemporary twist. Casablanca is one film that springs to mind.” Directed by Michael Curtiz, this 1942 film features Expressionist lighting and film noir shadowing effects. The use of background as a framing device is a technique Curtiz explored. This translates in Hotel Verta to vistas viewed through the double height reception as stills. Upstairs, the corridors are theatrically dark with

black textured wallpaper on one side and white on the other. Recessed lighting behind architraves on the landing strengthens the cinematic effect. Dramatic lighting deepens the mood of the subterranean spa with its hydro vitality pool. “The hotel is beyond boutique!” exclaims Onraet. “Always go for excess, that’s my motto!” It’s the multifaceted modern take on classics that elevates Hotel Verta in design, food and service terms. • Hotel Verta. Bridges Wharf, Bridges Court Road, Battersea, London Sw11 3BE Tel: +44 (0)20 7801 3500

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