Cathedral Lodge Reception & Bar Interior Design
Canterbury Cathedral Lodge Hotel is located within the grounds of the iconic Canterbury Cathedral, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lodge was designed by Sir William Whitfield in the early 1990s. The cathedral is symbolic of Canterbury, and as a local architectural firm with strong roots to the area, James Clague Architects were both excited and honoured to be leading the work on such a prestigious site.
In 2022, the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge reached out to James Clague Architects when they decided it was time to refurbish the hotel reception and convert the library to a lounge/bar. The reception was a high traffic small area which was often congested. This, combined with the need to provide guests with somewhere to relax and enjoy a drink, was the driving force behind the renovation work.
James Clague Architects have a team who specialise in interior architecture, which involves sensitively designing and adapting the interior layout of a building to improve how a space can function and the experience it provides. This is the perfect skillset for improving the flow around a busy hotel reception.
James Clague Architects create cohesive and well-considered designs to bring their clients’ vision to life. Our specialist knowledge and expertise within the historic environment enables us to provide interior design and architecture packages that are sympathetic and responsive to the nature of an existing building. This speciality lent itself perfectly to the high profile, and significant setting of the Canterbury Cathedral.
Improving the interior architecture of a hotel
Canterbury Cathedral Lodge’s main objective was to improve the experience guests have when visiting the hotel, particularly when entering the reception area with a focus on how that space functions at busy times of the day. In addition, the hotel wanted to provide improved amenities for hotel guests and visitors to the Cathedral, in the form of a relaxing space that could be used all day right through for evening drinks.
The original entrance featured a compact reception next to the library, which was sadly underused. James Clague Architects worked closely with the team at the hotel to build a vision to repurpose the space to provide visitors with a welcoming, open reception area that gently guided them towards the relaxing lounge/bar.
Choosing James Clague Architects for a commercial interior architecture project
Canterbury Cathedral Lodge chose James Clague Architects for this project because of our dedicated team of interior architectural designers as well as our expertise on designing for heritage rich properties. Having extensive experience in working with buildings in sensitive locations, we were prepared and excited to fulfil the brief.
The design intent for the new reception and bar area was to achieve an uplifting space with a contemporary twist, that would still be in-keeping with the site. Certain design choices and bespoke joinery details were carefully considered as a subtle nod to traditional craftsmanship and construction techniques found across the grounds of the cathedral.
Architecturally, a few simple but well considered internal alterations greatly improved how the space could be utilised and the flow of guests through the hotel.
To enhance the reception area, we widened the opening between the front and rear office to form a larger, brighter space for the new bespoke reception desk which was also designed by James Clague Architects. We formed a new opening in the wall which originally separated the office from the adjacent bedroom. This provided more office space to the rear, meaning the reception desk could sit further back into this new, brighter space. This enlarged the lobby and provided a clearer path through reception to help ease congestion at peak times.
Floor coverings have a large influence in how a space is perceived. We chose to lay large porcelain marble effect tiles throughout the reception. The large format tiles provide a seamless effect and the light, neutral tones contribute to the uplifting aesthetic we were trying to achieve.
The new reception desk was intricately designed in-house at James Clague Architects. The curved form welcomes and guides guests into the reception, and the fluted panelling is a smart and contemporary take on traditional detailing; whilst the navy finish is a welcome contrast to the light floor and walls.
The bar and lounge
The transformation of the library started with the careful removal of the solid oak shelves which were used to construct elements of the bar. Not only was this a sustainable and resourceful way to build the bar; but re-purposing the original timber shelves added significance and history to the bar itself, an ode to the original function of the space.
To highlight the beautiful bay window and utilise the floor area around it, we designed banquette seating to fit perfectly within the form of the bay. The formation seats approximately six people and was a bespoke piece of joinery. The choice of fabric and interesting shape provides an attractive central feature when entering the room. Either side of the banquette the in-house carpenters at the Cathedral adapted the fitted joinery to form symmetrical display shelving with fine-line integrated lighting.
James Clague Architects provided the detailed bar design for the in-house team of joiners and carpenters at the Cathedral to build. The innovative design features decorative curves and arches as an appreciated and acknowledgement of the Cathedral’s architecture. The bar itself is built from timber and the repurposed library shelving, whilst the bar top is locally fabricated quartz.
The light grey carpet feels soft underfoot and is a welcoming transition from the porcelain tiles of the reception. The floor tiles around the bar area were chosen very carefully. The warm grey tiles build-upon the neutral colour scheme, and the decorative pattern is a modern take on a traditional style.
The outcome is a functional and spacious bar and lounge area, which is in-keeping with this uniquely-located hotel at the heart of Canterbury Cathedral’s precincts. The atmosphere and décor of the room is welcoming to all visitors throughout the day.
Special attention was given to the design and placement of the lighting. Lighting influences the atmosphere of a space, and the approach to lighting the lounge/bar was to ensure each fitting was there to create depth and warmth at the right time of day. All the lights are on separate circuits and are dimmable, so they can be adjusted accordingly to create the perfect scene.
We also created a pathway of light between the reception and the bar to guide the guests towards the lounge. To showcase joinery detailing and our choice of materials, recessed lighting was fitted into the shelving and under the bar top to accentuate the quartz.
The build of the hotel reception and bar refurbishment
James Clague Architects worked closely with the in-house team at the Cathedral to help oversee the works on site. Special care was taken to ensure there was minimal disruption to hotel operations.
Thanks to the outstanding craftsmanship and skills of the team at the Cathedral, our design was delivered and implemented on site to an exceptional standard.
The client’s feedback
Canterbury Cathedral Lodge are very happy with the project and the end result. They felt the process was smooth and appreciated our professionalism and involvement every step of the way. The reception is now a welcoming, spacious area with an attractive bar for guests and visitors to relax in and spend time together after a day out in Canterbury.
At James Clague Architects, our team can offer both commercial interior architecture and interior design. They are able to innovatively and sensitively redesign interior spaces, which may include pubs, restaurants, hotels, offices, shops, and more. Their unique skillset allows them to provide a full design package for adaptive reuse of buildings to significantly improve their function and aesthetic.