After the recent opening of the first OKKO HOTEL in Nantes early this year, it has been a hectic period for the new hotel chain with a proposed nine hotels to open over the next three or four years throughout France. The latest addition opened on the 6th October. Set right in the heart of Grenoble in the foothills of the Alps in Southeastern France, it once again features interiors by the French designer, Patrick Norguet.
Although Grenoble is a small city of just 150,000 people it has become a European centre for science in recent decades and its rich history dating back 2000 years presents plenty of interest for visitors. The city’s history as a glove making centre in the 17th and 18th Century is one reason to visit but it might equally be the fact that there are twenty odd ski resorts in the vicinity.
The OKKO Hotel in Grenoble is also situated in an eco-district called de Bonne. Joining Växjö in Sweden and Delf in the Netherlands, Grenoble has taken on the eco-cities programme with the aim of create thriving local communities with low CO2 emissions. All buildings in the designated eco-area of de Bonne in the city's centre have to conform to strict guidelines in regards to the use of renewable energy, increased insulation and special roof gardens.
The OKKO Hotel in Grenoble sits in the middle of this precinct and is hopefully a role model for the development of more eco-conscouis hotels in the future.
The sharp wedge-shaped building designed by Dumétier Design offers views of the magnificent mountains, to one side and the city on the other. The interior is again by Patrick Norguet and captures the same mix of informality and precision detailing. The furniture and fittings are different from the OKKO Hotel Nantes but the overall sense of casual comfort continues.
Expansive walls of colour break up the concrete and the curtained windows, creating different moods for the various activities undertaken in The Club. Decorated with small personal objects and books the hotel is a million miles away from the corporate look of most chain hotels.
Okko Hotel’s goal is to provide aesthetics, comfort, timelessness and high standards in a package that feels like home despite the visitor being somewhere else. Norguet achieves this in his usual effortless way and creates the sort of human experience that perfectly compliments the large amounts of exposed concrete found in the building.
If you are a Norguet fan you will spot a long list of his products including his exceptional 'Kobi' chair for Alias, his recent 'T14' chair for Tolix, his 'Highlife' sofas for Tacchini and his 'Cône' wall lamps for Artemide.
The bedrooms use soft floor to ceiling curtaining on the windows and smooth waves of fine horizontal louvers. While Norguet’s own furniture designs were present in the Nantes Hotel but tempered with furniture classics from Artek and lights from Gubi, the OKKO in Grenoble is more about contemporary pieces with a stronger use of colour and a lighter and brighter feel.
The 138 room hotel sits beside a beautifully presented city park with manicured gardens and has views of the Isere river and mountains beyond. With Paris within 3 hours by TGV, an over night stay in this part of France is not beyond possibility. With Turin, Geneva and Lyon all within a two and a half hour drive, the hotel is perfectly placed for tourists and business travellers alike.
The next hotel off the rank for the OKKO Hotel group will be launching in Lyon at the beginning of December. Quite different from the first two, OKKO Hotel Lyon will be within the Prefecture of Lyon - a fine late 19th century example of municipal architecture. Painstakingly restored over several years, it will be very exciting to see how Norguet tackles this one. With it's imposing facade, soaring ceilings and decorative plasterwork the interior may prove more difficult to achieve than with his first two hotels but that's what makes this type of hotel chain so exciting. Cookie-cutter hotels are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
For more on this and other interesting hotels in the OKKO group, go to their website.
All photographs by Jérôme Galland.