Inspired by local red ink-wash paintings, the Grand Hyatt Changsha by LTW is a dramatic blend of cultural nuance with modern sophistication.

With a history dating back 3,000 years, the city of Changsha – the birthplace of Mao Zedong – is a place of great historical and cultural importance in China. Situated at the apex of a landmark 61-storey building, the Grand Hyatt Changsha offers views of the majestic Xiang River and the city’s skyline, setting the scene for dramatic and sophisticated hotel interiors.

A famous poem penned by the late Chairman Mao served as inspiration for two paintings: “Changsha” and “Ten Thousand Hills in Red” by local artists Fu Baoshi and Li Keran that depict the crimson hued mountains of Changsha and the grand riverbanks of the Xiang River. Thus, the interior design concept for Grand Hyatt Changsha is similarly inspired by these artworks and reflects a contemporary yet timeless Chinese aesthetic. Shades of the symbolic red colour are used to give deference to the artists’ work and a significant sense of place.

The double-height lobby is purposefully kept open and wide, allowing guests to circulate through the hotel’s various function spaces easily and efficiently. A central feature wall installation anchors the lobby space with vertically-oriented, offsetting the wave patterns in shades of ivory and red and textured & patterned motifs. The island reception and check-in area are tucked back from the double-volume lobby and defined by a bold backdrop in embossed red leather and plush carpeting in contemporary patterns in red and white, visually drawing the guest inwards to the intimate reception upon entering the hotel.

The adjacent lobby bar with the design language of colourful traditional patterned carpeting of the indigenous tribe surrounding burgundy sofas and muted yellow leather armchairs, and central circular bar wrapped in top-lit variegated black and gold stained panels.

Event spaces are also inspired by the Chinese paintings and adapted as custom-designed chandeliers on painted lacquer panels in different hues of red to resemble portions of the painting in the ballroom and meeting rooms.

Shades of muted red are used to accent the neutral palette of the rooms and suites, including the small red painted lacquer tiles integrated with the wall covering, red ceramic tile bathrooms and padded leather headboard. Suites are executed in a more Chinese theme with gold leaf circular sun motif at the bed with custom-designed furniture and lighting fixtures.

The hotel’s multiple F&B outlets offer a wide variety of cuisine to suit any palate with unique design concepts rooted in strong storylines yet are still within the overall design language of the hotel.

The Grand Café is an all-day outlet with dramatic triple-height dining rooms and interactive display kitchens that mimic the thriving marketplaces found along the riverbanks in China. A wide variety of foods from East to West are displayed on clustered buffet counters erected of grey and black marble and solid timber, while tall cubby shelves above discreetly hide mechanical equipment from view with locally sourced pottery and artefacts. The different dining halls are precinct into zones to allow diners a choice of seating options, from open tables to tan leather wrapped banquettes to long communal areas. The zones also allow for entire areas to be cordoned off for private events and functions. Custom designed wrought iron light fixtures hang above, with thin profiles to allow sight lines upward while providing illumination to the dining area.

The hotel’s Chinese Restaurant, Xiang Jiang 36, is similarly zoned into individual kitchens specializing in steam and noodle dishes, roast duck via the custom brick oven, and the dessert bar. Here the chefs are the ‘actors’ in the food theatre and put on their culinary show daily to entertain and enliven the dining experience for guests. Slightly varying design schemes are offered in line with the different kitchens, starting with the tea bar at the restaurant’s reception where waiting guests can partake in different teas from around China with a backdrop of delicate teacups on thin metal shelves lit from above. Dark grey slate flooring provides a matted surface for rustic timber furniture upholstered in red and yellow fabrics to sit amidst glazed blue and white checkerboard tiles and patterned glass screens that add a hint of subtle elegance. Overhead, hundreds of bamboo rods hang in unison yet at varying lengths, inspired by the fishing poles used by Xiang River fishermen.

The hotel’s BBQ restaurant, aptly and simply named ‘BBQ,’ is derived from the stilt houses and fishing villages found along the banks of the river. Undulating floor levels and solid wood blocks stack together to form partitions that divide up the dining space into a series of semi-private areas. A custom backdrop of oversized carp artwork is applied to the surrounding walls by local artists as if the fish are “swimming” through the restaurant. Rough timber panels frame the entire outlet while black and gold light fixtures glow above with hand-punched stipple patterns inspired by land and sea motifs.

Perhaps the most sought-after space in the entire development is Casa Grande, a multi-function entertainment, bar lounge and F&B venue created by LTW from a formerly unused rooftop space. At one end, a two-storey entertainment bar with dance floor and stage was carved out to become a rooftop destination for night owls. A red-panelled mezzanine area was added above a 360-degree bar as a VIP room and chill-out space.

Adjacent to the bar, seating spills into a casual Italian trattoria with a dramatic 2-story volume with a glass skylight and rough timber plank and rustic Italian tile flooring – certainly a nod to ‘Mama’s kitchen’. “We purposely designed the space to be overlapping,” says principal partner H.L. Lim, “so that even after the restaurant closes, patrons can spill from the bar area into the restaurant space,
effectively extending the capacity for late-night business.” Al fresco seating continues outside the trattoria onto the roof deck, which connects via a series of vertical folding doors, to the indoor swimming pool for the hotel. The modern red panel and timber slatted pool deck act as an extension of the al fresco area to allow for a larger group to occupy the entire rooftop for weddings, events, and private parties. There is no doubt Casa Grande has been
created to become THE destination of Changsha.

Project: Grand Hyatt
Location: Changsha, China
Design Studio: LTW Designworks
Photography: Edmon Leong