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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

The Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE by Jestico + Whiles

December 6th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

We had published the Yas Hotel project earlier with exterior details. The article below covers the interior design of the Hotel.

Article source: Asymptote Architecture

The opening of the iconic Yas Hotel, with interiors by Jestico + Whiles and architecture by New York City based Asymptote Architecture’s Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture coincided with the inaugural Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 1 2009. Jestico + Whiles was appointed by Aldar Hotels and Hospitality as interior designers of the luxury Yas Hotel which occupies a prime position; spanning the most exciting corner of the new Yas Marina F1 Grand Prix circuit, on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The architectural form is unique in that the circuit could be said to run through the hotel, and one of the twin elliptical wings sits in the Marina itself.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

  • Interior Architect: Jestico + Whiles
  • Project: The Yas Hotel
  • Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Lead Architect: Asymptote Architecture – Principals Hani Rashid + Lise Anne Couture
  • Local Architects: Dewan Architects & Engineers, Abu Dhabi ; Tilke & Partners W.L.L., Dubai
  • Structural Engineers: Dewan Architects & Engineers, Abu Dhabi ; ARUP, New York

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

  • Grid-Shell Engineers: Schlaich Bergermann und Partner (SBP), Stuttgart ; Waagner-Biro, Vienna
  • MEP Engineer: Red Engineering Middle East, Dubai
  • Façade Consultants: Front Inc., New York ; TAW & Partner, Hamburg
  • Grid-Shell Building Information Modeling (BIM) Consultant: Gehry Technologies, Richardson Sadeki, De8 Architetti, Bergamo
  • Landscape Design: Cracknell Landscape Architects, Abu Dhabi
  • Photographer: Gerry O’leary


Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Optimistic and exciting, calming, refined and reviving…

We were briefed to create a contemporary and luxurious hotel which can accommodate those enjoying the short, bright life and frenetic speed of the Grand Prix as well as those simply retreating from the stresses of home. As appropriate to the sophistication of the location, the hotel eschews the overt shows of wealth, and the application of trivialised generic Arabic themes which have become the default design language of many hotels in the region.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The materials are considered and refined, but not showy. Forms are streamlined and flowing in reference to the race track and F1 cars, or evoke marine imagery of the Arabian Gulf. Any cultural references are interpreted in subtle, fresh ways so as to be almost subliminal. Spaces flow easily together, and the filtered light highlights textured, natural materials for the most relaxing, reviving experience.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The first ellipse, the “land side” wing, accommodates a range of guest suites and a set of restaurants serving specialist cuisines….

Guest Suites

On entering the suite, a wide and generous lobby is created as relief to the tight corridors of generic hotels. Beyond this, the colour of the glass ceiling, floor, wardrobe fronts and bathroom partitions changes to saturated scarlet or indigo creating a coloured tunnel as a threshold between the lobby and the “sleep” zone. To one side of the entrance lobby, the bathroom is enclosed by glass, with panels of fine silk sheers, mounted in the glass for modesty, but revealing tantalising ghosts within.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Once inside the room, any division between the sleep zone and the wet zone is further dissolved, to create a single flowing living space, with functionality defined only by finishes. A wide sliding glass panel can fully open the bathe zone while also securing the entrance lobby, for extra privacy. Within these main translucent partitions of the bathe zone, an over-sized wet room drench shower is enclosed within a frameless crystal box and a further, symmetrical, frosted box conceals the WC for total discretion (when the bathe zone is opened).

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The materials in mixes leather texture porcelain tiles or ribbed, Carrara marble tiles with tinted bronze mirrors and inset, back-lit alabaster wash stands. The bath is topped by a heavy slab of pure white quartz, which extends seamlessly into the sleep zone as an amorphous, flowing plinth which clasps the bed and the lounger.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

This plinth is mirrored to create the work zone, which replaces the standard hotel desk with a far more versatile and friendly surface. The finishes in the sleep and work zones are natural, but refined. Fine joinery in sun bleached oak is shaped in reference to the form of wind filled sails of local dhows. Unruly rugs define a “sit zone” and porcelain tiles are pressed with stone aggregate.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Specialist cuisine restaurants

The restaurants are accessed from a wide internal route which follows the elliptical core of the hotel. The concept of the restaurants is that they should be entirely contemporary, with only very subtle but tantalising references to the culture from which the cuisines originate.

The tandoori restaurant, for example, takes the saturated colours of traditional saris and actually incorporates panels of fabric into table tops. The Italian restaurant is focused on a heavy, family sized olive wood refectory table. The noodle restaurant uses celadon enamelled volcanic basalt tiles.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The speciality fish restaurant is located at water level in the marina wing, and the mood is defined by this marine setting. The entire space is lined by glowing panels of “ice white” composite, which are pierced, drilled, and part drilled and stained with undulating, flowing aqua coloured lights to evoke the serenity of a moonlit coral reef, and a stupendous chandelier makes oblique reference to the translucent, amorphous form of a jelly fish. The identity of each restaurant will be unique, but they will talk to each other, to offer a coherent global culinary tour.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The “water side” wing accommodates the Presidential and Vice-Presidential suites, the fine dining Vine restaurant, the guest room corridors and lift lobbies, the ballroom, the entrance lobby and café and the majlis….

Lobby Lounge

The lobby lounge occupies a continuous bay adjacent to the reception and offers a range of seating areas, depending on the mood or the size of the group.

Laser cut suede curtains enclose soft low seating. These curtains are a modern interpretation of the Arabian mashrabiya, affording discretion and privacy while allowing tantalising glimpses of flickering movement. The pattern is reminiscent of corals, sea urchins and anemones, and the light casts intricate, decorative shadows onto adjacent surfaces. The curtains also define zones within an otherwise free flowing space. The main seating zone is defined by a chandelier reminiscent of a circling shoal of sardines.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The fabrics are deep purple and indigo, a palette inspired by squid ink. The colours are pigments and stains rather than flat dye, to enhance the natural feel. At the furthest end of the space, a streamlined counter of deepest purple is stacked with pastries and Viennoiserie, and the view beyond is stopped by a powerful super-graphic rendered in Italian glass mosaic tiles.

Vine Restaurant

The fine dining Vine Restaurant is located in the water-side wing, at roof terrace level with dramatic views across the racetrack and the marina. The palette will be a combination of dark stained timbers, high gloss aubergine lacquered surfaces and stitched, heavy coach hide. The dramatic three metre high bar display is glazed with shots of pinks and purples, a lush contrast in an otherwise monochromatic space.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The arrival sequence begins with a dramatic approach, lined with a glowing vine wall on one side and overhead evoking, the feeling of walking under vines at night. This experience recreates the drama of a glamorous catwalk runway. The route is line by a full height wine display, with frosted, textured glass through to the wine tasting room which also features a special dining table for the full vinotheque experience.

The focus is a sommelier, stationed at a chemist’s counter, with an engaging display of vintage wine related accoutrements, some of which are displayed in a mystical Apothecaries cabinet. Large framed oil paintings are suspended from the ceiling, layered in front of the full height silk drapes to give a feeling of opulence and create drama. The private dining room seats up to 14 and has a central kaleidoscope mirrored ceiling offset against a sophisticated palette of dark wood, leather and silk.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary


The ballroom is designed to accommodate all uses, from conference to banquet to the launch of the new Ferrari. The walls are upholstered in luxurious cream calf leather, running from floor to ceiling. The ceiling is a matrix of glowing points of light, creating one seamless glowing chandelier, across which the light undulates like the tendrils of anemones. The ceiling can change colour to dramatically adapt the appearance of the room from a serene wedding environment of cream and natural tones to a more glamorous evening occasion of opulent pinks and rich purple hues.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Jestico + Whiles were responsible for:

  • 7 Specialist Restaurants (including, Tandoori, Noodle, Fish, Japanese, Arabic, Italian and all day dining)
  • All Guest Suites including Vice Presidential and Presidential
  • The Lobby Lounge
  • The Michelin starred Vine Restaurant
  • Ballroom


Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Jestico + Whiles

Jestico + Whiles is a practice of architects and interior designers based in London and Prague. The practice incorporates a studio of specialist hotel designers, with a global reputation for excellence in the field. This reputation is supported by three short-listed entries in this year’s forthcoming European Hotel Design Awards and the FX Awards.

The practice has always been proud of the diversity in its workload, ranging from schools for disadvantaged children to University departments, hostels for the homeless to five-star boutique hotels and restaurants, master-planning of residential developments to the complete regeneration of inner city neighbourhoods, individual office fit outs to the building of corporate headquarters, designer shop interiors to complete retail malls and individual houses to high rise apartments.

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

The practice’s design reputation covers both new-build and the sensitive, contemporary, refurbishment of historic buildings. The ambition to bring design excellence to the rejuvenation of existing building stock exemplifies our commitment to sustainability and quality of design in all forms of construction. Our reputation for excellence is well established both nationally and internationally, with recent projects completed and ongoing in India, the Gulf, China and throughout Eastern Europe (Poland, Bratislava, Croatia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Romania).

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

Image Courtesy Gerry O’leary

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One Response to “The Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE by Jestico + Whiles”

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