Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Now you know where to stay when next in Baku!



Flame Towers mixed-use complex puts ancient city back on the map

Changing the city’s skyline forever, the iconic Flame Towers project in Azerbaijan’s vibrant capital city of Baku acts as a beacon to the future for this ancient country, hidden for decades behind the Iron Curtain, and reflects the country’s re-emergence onto the global scene. Three glass towers mimic the igneous triptych branded on the Baku coat of arms, which shows three flames rising above the waves of the Caspian Sea. Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), global leader in hospitality design, has completed the monumental design of more than 770,000 sqft of interior space – one column housing the Fairmont Baku hotel. Of the trio, the slightly shorter 37-storey hotel tower situated at the northern portion of the site stretches over 700 feet above the Baku skyline, and provides 299 rooms plus 19 serviced apartments.

Pierre Josselin, Senior Lead Designer at HBA, states: “Our first approach was trying to determine what a guest would expect from such spectacular buildings as these, so we went for something very contemporary, fresh, and inviting”. The vibrant colour palette used by HBA designers was inspired by the Flame Towers’ exterior – the hotel tower mimics the colour spectrum on a lit match, ranging from cool blues, to warmer tones, to dark and dramatic at the very tip. Lower levels employ a blue theme, the spa located in the middle plays with amber tones, whereas the upper floors dedicated to the guestrooms and suites shift to warmer chromatic hues. Carpet designs reflecting the striations of the Old City of Baku, art pieces, and light fixtures support the water and fire theme throughout the tower.

Visitors are welcomed in a dramatic, 56-foot-high lobby space in which hangs a 20-foot-tall glass chandelier, custom made in the Czech Republic and designed to mimic drops of water. The walls of the lobby are white Calacatta marble, accented with warm Figured Anegre wood panels. Supporting columns clad in soft leather and Swarovski crystal wall coverings are rendered distinct from the walls, adding an additional note of contrast, which paired with the subtle purple elements in the rugs and textile make the space both intimate and extravagant.

The guestroom floors are divided between standard and executive "gold" floors. The carpet pattern is reminiscent of textured stone one finds in the old city of Baku. The guestroom entrance is framed with mirrored arches; the bedrooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows offer breath-taking views, enlarged by full length mirrors on either side of the window. Typical guestrooms feature walk-in closets, a dry vanity, minibar and tea station, table for two, ergonomic desk chairs, and a banquette. Beige marble covers the bathroom walls and floor, accented by a wall of iridescent round glass mosaic arranged in a rain pattern.

Oversized showers are divided from the bedroom by a glass panel which can be clear or opaque with the flick of a switch. The executive guestrooms are rich with Macassar Ebony millwork. HBA designers played with the colour of fire for the suites, while the two Royal Suites located on the top floors at the apex of the building provide the ultimate luxury. The red becomes burgundy, the yellows become gold, and black crystal chandeliers hang from the arched ceiling.

For the function and pre-function areas, HBA designers selected slightly darker tones by introducing deep brown coloured materials to give a rich, yet professional vibe to the space. Patterns of the carpets represent the movement of water. Elegant red silk wall coverings in the pre-function space define the seating areas, while red glass panels are inserted in the ceiling. The shape of the lighting fixtures in the ballroom mimic the flame and are made of the same bronze glass elements that are displayed as an art installation in the main lobby, allowing the public spaces to complement each other. The combined elements give guests a sense of place with a more holistic design.

“We’ve worked very closely with ESPA to design the spa for the hotel tower”, adds Josselin. The spa, inspired by a traditional Turkish hammam with contemporary finishes, extends throughout two floors of the tower and is linked by a bronze glass staircase. It is fresh and vibrant with white marble and amber tone woods. The spa pool on the lower level is spectacular; HBA designers played with a circular pattern of iridescent clear glass mosaic from Italy, which sparkles like diamonds. While the canopy above the pool is made of stainless steel mesh wrapped in iridescent orange fabric. Lit from below, it resembles a cloud of smoke floating above the water. The second floor, with the treatment rooms, is passive, darker, and moodier. Rounding out the experience, a manicure salon overlooks a Zen sky garden while at the opposite end of the building you have a very dramatic Turkish Hammam, evincing two of the many distinct cultural elements active in Baku.

Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Baku has a long and glorious past stretching back to the first century as part of the famous Silk Route traversing the continents, and providing a ‘gateway’ between ancient Asia and a mysterious, wealthy Europe. Visitors may now rediscover the Old City or Inner city (Icheri Sheher) - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - which is within easy walking distance of Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers containing beautiful buildings that reveal the secret history of Baku, boxed in by massive soaring walls – around 30 feet high and over 10 feet wide.  

Standing on the southeast corner of Baku’s Old City is the Maiden Tower – a unique structure shaped like a giant key.  Built in the 12th century, the tower has survived the Mongol invasion and endless wars between the Ottoman, Persian and Russian empires.  The Old City’s other major attraction is the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, built by the Shirvan Kings in the 15th century. This huge complex contains not only the main palace but the Divankhana (low courts), a minaret-topped Masjid, a mausoleum and a bath house.

About HBA
World-renowned as the “Number 1 Hospitality Design Firm” (Interior Design) and honored in 2013 at the Hospitality Design Awards, Perspective Awards, Boutique Design Awards, and the European Hotel Design Awards, HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates unveils the world’s most anticipated hotels, resorts, and spas.  Leading the hospitality interior design industry since 1965, HBA remains keenly attuned to the pulse of changing industry trends governed by today's sophisticated traveler. The company’s international presence, depth of experience, and detailed industry knowledge enables them to identify interior design trends at their source, make definitive predictions about new directions and innovations, and influence design standards at a global level.  HBA’s ultimate objective is to add value, raise standards and enhance the brand of a project's owner and operator.

HBA creates the signature look of traditional luxury brands, independent contemporary boutiques, urban resort spas, world-class residences, restaurants, casinos, and cruise ships. From continent to continent, each HBA interior is the result of a unique and sensitive response to location, architecture, and client vision. With over 1,000 designers around the globe in 16 offices and a recent expansion in Asia, HBA is a true global company with more than 75% of its employees now outside the United States. HBA’s international presence, combined with its extensive knowledge of the interior design industry, has facilitated the ability to rewrite the language of design with each new project.

For HBA in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Thailand, Manila, Melbourne, Dubai, New Delhi, Moscow, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Londonvisit

HBA’s expert designers are available for interviews and comments on hospitality and residential projects as well as industry trends in markets worldwide (with emphasis on China, Singapore, the UAE, USA, and Europe).

The Flame Towers complex is inspired by the ancient ideal of flame worship that was dominant in the region that is today Azerbaijan

A striking six-metre-high (20 feet) glass chandelier from the Czech Republic in the shape of water drops meets guests as they enter the Fairmont Baku hotel


The Fairmont Baku hotel stands as an iconic gateway to the Azerbaijani capital city of Baku, overlooking the waters of the Caspian Sea

The colour palette mimics the colour spectrum on a lit match, ranging from cool blues, to warmer chromatic hues used in the upper floors dedicated to the guest-rooms and suites

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