The facade of the Minerva today

Hugo Toro to Design Interiors of New Orient Express Hotel

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Historical travel artisan, Orient Express, have announced their new hotel in Rome, the interiors of which will be designed by architect and designer, Hugo Toro. With a passion for history, splendour and culture, it promises a captivating stay.

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Architect and Designer Hugo Toro to Design Interiors of New Orient Express Hotel

The facade of the Minerva today

Copyright: Oliver Astrologo

Last year, Orient Express – legendary luxury long-distance train service since 1883 – announced a partnership with the Italian luxury hospitality experts, Arsenale S.p.A. Part owned by French national rail company SNCF and French hospitality company Accor, Orient express has since announced two (stationary) hotels in Italy: one in Venice, one in Rome.

Accor – drawing on Orient Express’ connotations of refinement and mystery – plans to have 10 Orient Express properties by 2030. Orient Express La Minerva hotel – set to open in Rome in 2024 – has now been placed in the trusted hands of architect and designer, Hugo Toro.

Hugo Toro in The Eternal City

Hugo Toro standing beside Italian columns in a burgundy suit

Copyright: Alexandre Onimus. Styling: Dior Homme

‘Orient Express has found its ideal stopover in Rome,’ says Toro. ‘It is a symbolic city that evokes emotion and amazement in everyone who visits. It is a place that feels like magic, imprinted by marks of history and a rich palette of textures, materials and colours. All of this is in perfect harmony with the mysterious and travel-focused identity of Orient Express.’

Toro has many beautiful interior projects to his name: the Gigi restaurants in Paris, Val d’Isère and Ramatuelle, Booking Office 1869 in St Pancras station, as well as a plethora of apartments and private Parisian mansions. Toro will now bring his passion for history and culture to La Minerva with new decor inspired by the splendour and history of Italy’s ‘eternal city’, along with a touch of contemporary elegance.

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Expected by the end of 2024, La Minerva hotel will occupy the former Palazzo Fonesca, ‘a sumptuous palace from the 17th century, with a huge and majestic facade,’ Toro says. ‘It is a heritage site still adorned with Roman columns, sculptures by Rinaldi Rinaldo, a disciple of Canova, and the fascinating Minerva.

‘It is a secret spot where you can go to think and admire the wonders of the Sant’Ivo dome, the roof of the Quirinal Palace and the Pantheon from its panoramic terrace,’ says Toro.

The entrance to La Minerva

Copyright: Xavier Antoinet

‘We are delighted to be working with Hugo Toro to capture the timeless essence of the city of romance and legend within Orient Express La Minerva,’ says Stephen Alden, CEO of Orient Express. ‘Having made his first foray into Orient Express designing our pop-up scenography at La Samaritaine, this remarkable designer continues his journey with us into Rome. 

‘His passion for history, sensitivity and skill at elevating historic surroundings with a new contemporaneity will help us to create in Orient Express La Minerva one of the most enchanting destinations in the world,’ says Alden.

Back to the Rails

 

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Having launched in 1883, Orient Express trains have not been running since 2009. However, along with a foray into hotels, Orient Express will be returning to the rails in 2024 via the launch of their Orient Express La Dolce Vita trains.

Gilda Cotzia, Real Estate and Construction Manager of Arsenale S.p.A, says the revival of La Minerva is ‘a chapter that is part of a dynamic global project for the tourism sector, connected to the launch of Orient Express La Dolce Vita trains, which will connect the country’s cities of art and culture to its small villages through an integrated ultra-luxury offer for travellers who choose to explore and discover Italy.’

As well as the two in Italy, another Orient Express hotel has been announced in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The brand is also aiding the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express restoration project, expected to whisk its first passengers from France to Turkey in 2024.

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