CW Interiors |
Luxe Life | May 2011

Cultural Confluence

With modern design that borrows from local culture, the Hilton Chennai, designed by DiLeonardo International, beautifully captures the heart and spirit of its city.

A hint of European heritage with a strong local flavour, Hotel Hilton Chennai is a rich blend of Tamil tradition and modern aesthetics. Designed by Simon Zeng, Senior Designer and Jose Olivares, Associate/Studio Director, DiLeonardo International, Hong Kong, this nine-floor, 224-room hotel made a humble beginning in the early 70s with a small restaurant in Chennai and has, over the years, spread its wings across various businesses besides this plush property.

At first glance

Entering the generous circular lobby formed by beautiful, contemporary-style jaali screens, one's attention is drawn to highly stylised, exotic-stone registration desks. A sense of old-world luxury and elegance fill the interiors. Simon Zeng elaborates saying, “We wanted to create a design that would reflect the contrasts and diversities of Chennai and its cultural heritage. We interpreted elements of traditional Tamil culture with contemporary European design to create unique spaces.”

From stone and carpet patterns to chandeliers, each area designed by DiLeonardo embodies the spirit of cultural convergence. The vibrant colours, rich textiles and intricately carved wooden panels make one want to linger on. But as one moves further, the serene pools of water on either side of the lobby extend a gentle invitation to the adjacent lounge/café on the same level.

Lounge among trees

Low sofas, high bar stools and traditional coffee tables – the Vintage Bar lounge offers a wide range of seating clusters. The ambience is modern, yet warm and welcoming, while the unique design of the Vintage Bar echoes the legendary safari motifs of India. An intelligently constructed island bar, resembling a chuck wagon on a safari and serving as a service point, is the pièce de résistance. The ceiling represents a canopy of trees, and the sky curves down to columns that are fashioned after trees in the savannah.

Comfort and relaxation

A perfect balance between the past and the present has clearly been the designer's primary intention, as is reflected by the finest marbles on display en route from the lobby to the guestrooms. The rooms capture a whiff of the medieval period with their simple colours, rich local silks and luxurious marbles. “Fine textiles, warm woods and contemporary lighting helped us create spaces that are tranquil, modern and sophisticated, all while continuing to evoke a sense of space,” says Jose Olivares. An apt example of this is the artwork over the beds, which integrates a mirror with a panel upholstered with a variety of local silks stitched in patterns that are unique to each room.

Ayla and Vasco

The culinary focus of the restaurant, Ayla is inspired by modern classics with an emphasis on seafood, but the interiors are stimulated by the vibrant colours of the peacock feather. The use of dark tones for the interiors, glossy materials and contemporary furniture underlines this fact. The recurring theme of the fireplace and surfaces tattooed with an Indian floral pattern add brightness to the setting and yet keep it casual – a perfect location for evening cocktails.

Vasco, on the other hand, is an all-day restaurant with modern furnishings, ambience and a spectacular view of the city. The restaurant evokes a warm and sultry atmosphere with a mix of colours and fabrics. A live kitchen makes any restaurant more interactive, and Vasco is no different. The signature feature of this restaurant is the oversized Madras table that showcases a wide variety of regional Indian foods prepared by the culinary maestros of Vasco. Relaxed and informal, sleek and contemporary, Vasco serves fresh, innovative global cuisine from four live kitchens.

The Hilton Chennai is truly an invigorating interpretation of contemporary design. Its strategic location, well planned interiors, luxurious rooms and exciting restaurants make the hotel an impressive addition to the Hilton bouquet in Chennai.

Total Area: 14,531 sq mt

Jose OLivares and simon zeng

  • Firm: DiLeonardo International; founded in 1971.
  • Firm specialisation: Hospitality – hotels, resorts, spas, clubhouses, casinos and restaurants – and residential spaces.
  • Design philosophy: A collaborative approach combined with a sense of excellence provides the basis for unique designs.
  • Philosophy towards life: Fresh ideas, exciting possibilities.

Text: Kamiya Verma
Photos Courtesy: Dileonardo International


DiLeonardo International, 19th floor, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, China. Tel: +852-2851-7282.

Hilton Chennai, 124/1, JN Salai, Ekkaduthangal, Chennai 600 032, Tamil Nadu. Tel: 044-2225 5555.

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