La Tour Rose, an emblematic building located in the UNESCO-listed neighbourhood of Vieux Lyon District C, is reopening its doors thanks to the work of a passionate team dedicated to restoring it to its former glory.
Nathalie Grynbaum and Stéphanie Marquez rescued La Tour Rose when they took it on as part of their MiHotel hotel group, a company determined to do things differently. Favouring an approach that sets them far apart from most traditional hotels, the group's philosophy is based on a digital concept – that of ultra-connected service, infinitely customisable stays and luxurious individual suites.
They enlisted the help of interior designer Nathalie Rives to create a look that is eclectic, chic, and full of surprises. The suites, which discerning guests can choose from before arrival, are uniquely decorated to create distinct identities, but two things unite them: Nathalie’s impeccable eye, and Farrow & Ball paint and wallpaper.
We caught up with the women at the forefront of the hotel’s transformation to talk locations, inspirations, and colour combinations.
Nathalie Grynbaum and Stéphanie Marquez
What made you decide to take on La Tour Rose?
It’s such an emblematic place – bewitching, an exceptional building with terraces and gardens, nooks and crannies. Also, our taste for old stones and a strong challenge!
How did you come up with the concept for MiHotel?
As women in business who travelled regularly, we were underwhelmed by the offerings of the traditional hotel. No space, no decoration, no possibility to warm up a little something, no cutlery, no plates, no technology, no personalisation... We started from our needs, our desires, our taste for beauty – that’s how the adventure began.
Your concept has been described as “combining excellence with innovation”, which is something we also pride ourselves on – how do you maintain that balance?
Offering a personalised, human, 24/7 welcome, plus creativity and imagination. A client application that allows guests to be autonomous, choose restaurants and excursions in the city, or the delivery of an extra such as a massage, yoga, breakfast... to be customisable almost to infinity. The trick is reinventing yourself, and often.
You give pride of place to colours and wallpaper in all your suites. Did you impose this directive in your brief? What are your favourite colours in La Tour Rose?
The colour imposed itself right from the start, with these different shades of terracotta, brick red, pink, and the yellow ochre of the walls, even before the renovation.
We wanted colours, certainly, and Nathalie brought Farrow & Ball to our attention with this unique palette. Moreover, we really wanted to pay homage to the pink of the staircase, La Tour Rose, and for a suite to embody that tone with wonderful bright blends of pink, intense red, and brick.
We love all the colours, and the mixtures of colours, in these Suites. But, if we really had to choose a colour (or two!) we loved Arsenic, the turquoise blue that Nathalie and Marine chose for the Acquaverde Suite. It’s so acidic, unexpected, and exotic. We also love Red Earth in the Amaranth Suite – deep, enticing, and a tribute to the roses of the different buildings of this Renaissance place, and to the whole of Old Lyon. Thank you for your truly stunning colours.
What were your sources of inspiration when designing the suites?
The place itself is an incredible source of inspiration. La Tour Rose, beautifully set in the middle of terraced gardens – it's like being in the middle of Rome. So, we respected the passage of time on this site. Each suite is an experience, an era, a real journey through history. This choice of artistic direction corresponds perfectly to the concept of MiHotel because each suite must be unique.
Did the location of Old Lyon inform your designs at all?
The location had to influence us because we are in a historic district classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the architecture is Renaissance. This period of history saw a lot of artistic exchanges with Italy. We were directly inspired by it, especially for the landing on the second floor, which resembles the workshops in the garden of the Villa Medici in Rome.
Did you discover any new favourite colours or colour combinations during the process?
I've been working with Farrow & Ball for a long time. Inchyra Blue has so many tones depending on the light, and that is one of the most interesting colours from my point of view. It goes from grey to blue and sometimes to green. I love it!
The two real discoveries are Red Earth and Preference Red (one of your latest releases). Together they dazzle, and they allowed me to bring the historical colours of La Tour Rose’s facade inside the building.
How was our experience of working with our wallpaper?
Lotus is one of my favourite wallpapers, and you have created so many possibilities with it that it is impossible not to find what you like. It's very Art Deco, a period that I'm particularly fond of in design. In fact, we have placed a table from the same period in the suite where Lotus is located.
You’ve managed to create a distinct personality for each suite while maintaining a strong sense of your own style – how have you achieved this?
It's a mystery, and I've often been given this thought – despite the change in style, the period, and the eclecticism of the artistic proposal, there is the same DNA that stands out. I may have the beginning of an explanation even if it is always very difficult to talk about our own work. I admire the way the incredible Italian fabric publisher Dedar treats colours and prints, as much as La Maison Pierre Frey. The blends and colours don't scare me – on the contrary, it's an inexhaustible source of inspiration. I would dream of creating a collection of colours with Farrow & Ball, to mix our DNAs!