Old Meets New at Alexandria Hotel

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

American but reinterpreted is how famed interior designer Vicente Wolf describes the new Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria. Wolf, who is on the top-designer lists of House Beautiful, Metropolitan Home and Architectural Digest magazines, designed the hotel to mimic the traditional aspects of area homes, but in a contemporary light. "We need to be remembering yesterday but live in today," Wolf says.

Wall-to-wall bookcases feature white-paper-covered books instead of multicolored hardbacks. A runner of brick, instead of a rug, lines the hallways on the first floor. Wolf brought in regional color by using what he calls "Adams-period-inspired Federal blue" on upholstery and carpeting. "My style is trying to blend points of view together," he says.

The Lorien, which opened one week ago, has rooms with elements that easily transfer to a home: mirrors on the walls to give the illusion of windows, updated wingbacks, translucent sliding doors to open up small bathrooms, and high-style decor from such accessible retailers as Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. Calming light-bluish-gray walls (Benjamin Moore's Fantasy Blue) reflect changing sunlight and shadow.

Wolf also designed an adjacent restaurant, Robert Wiedmaier's Brabo, and the Brabo tasting room, which resides in a restored 150-year-old building. The whole property at 1600 King St. is a standout of contemporary, urban style and cuisine mixed with traditional design and comforts -- plus it is the only full-service hotel and spa in Old Town.

"All we hear from people is that they've been waiting for a hotel like this," says general manager Donald Anderson. "And we're happy to provide it."

Lindsey Rowe


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