Project Name: Earth & Vine Restaurant – Castleknock Hotel & Country Club
Location: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Date Completed: October 2017
Interior Designer: Audrey Gaffney
Interior Architect: Audrey Gaffney
Hotel Group: FBD Hotels

The Castleknock Hotel & Country Club is a 4-star plus property, but the designers wanted to give the customers a 5-star impression. The design brief was simple but very specific and the on-site work had to be completed efficiently to allow the hotel to remain operational. There were obvious challenges present with such a busy hotel, a huge concern for Audrey Gaffney Associates was to minimise any disruption to the customer experience and to ensure that operations within the hotel ran smoothly. The management required that each area was to have its own distinct look and feel, but also that each area could be opened up to function and serve the operational requirements of high-volume traffic during breakfast time service without losing charm and intimacy. It was imperative that this space be multi-functional depending on the time of day so creating intimate areas were as important as facilitating large groups.

The most difficult and biggest challenge for this project was updating the interior brand in-line with the hotel customer profile and to meet customer expectations. Audrey Gaffney Associates design team analysed this to create an overall brand style that would bring the hotel’s public spaces up to date. Corporate clients, wedding guests and also local diners have to be considered as part of the design brief, and careful consideration was given to have the interiors highlight the local food offering. The designers highlighted layout options to the clients from the start showing how best to achieve better customer experience and completely rearranged bar layouts, not a previous design brief requirement, however achieving better productive space for their staff and a more stylish look to their main bar.

The breakfast areas now cater stylishly for the high volume of traffic in the mornings while retaining its elegant presence during evening service. Lavish soft leather booth seating provides a walk-way around the service area and loose seating allows for flexibility for large or small parties. A small cocktail bar was created to form an elegant focal point and to facilitate speed of service for customers seated in this area. The rear dining room previously called ‘The Park’ has been opened up visually by the use of large floor to ceiling glazed wine displays, creating illusion of dividing the rooms but allowing the natural sunlight to filter through to the dining space of ‘The Earth & Vine Restaurant’. Earthy colours were used within fabrics and textures to mimic the palette of the surrounding landscape in view.

The new bar, renamed ‘Bar 22’, is a local take on the fact that there are 22 town-lands within the local parish, showing that it’s as important as ever to show support to the local community. Raspberry, tan, and warm oak tones were used in this area to create a cosy, inviting and plush feel. Audrey Gaffney Associates created elegant and stylish slim profiled painted dividers with beautiful classic light-coloured stone counter-tops that also function as servery units. These multifunctional pieces allow staff a more fluid customer food service and ease of set-up and clean-up.

The overall design work carries through to the finishes, the quality and the detail. Lighting is very important to take any interior from daytime afternoon tea through to night-time dinner and cocktails.  Audrey Gaffney Associates ensured that the different areas/rooms have their own unique look and feel. This gives a different ‘customer experience’ with every visit. Corporate clients or local customers can enjoy a different view point and feel like they are experiencing something new every time. It is crucial that finishes are flawless as this is what the customer is experiencing, and ultimately leaves a lasting impression whether they realize it or not. And within the new-look Castleknock Hotel, the various restaurants and bars have their own distinct look where Audrey Gaffney Associates have brought the image of the hotel as a whole, into the 21st Century.