dining area punctuated by a bright chandelier
In the dining room, sculpted fins of acoustic board and custom ceramic pendant fixtures evoke a dew-dappled mushroom. Photography by Graydon Herriott.

A Centuries-Old Structure is Transformed into a Bustling Hotel in Canada

Considering this property’s state when it was sold a decade ago, some would have thought the 1881 building unsalvageable. The structure was dilapidated and waterlogged, with caved-in ceilings and staircases covered in green moss. But its new owner, a family of local real-estate developers, wasn’t ready to give up, and Giannone Petricone Architects was up for the challenge of restoring it to its former glory. 

The new Royal embraces its roots as a Victorian railway hotel by “isolating, abstracting, and reinserting quintessential tropes to create a new narrative,” says Pina Petricone, the Toronto firm’s cofounder and principal with Ralph Giannone. Just look above the dining room’s custom white oak harvest table, where the original ceiling rosette was replaced with an installation of acoustic-board fins and translucent ceramic pendant fixtures. 

How The Royal Hotel Melds Past and Present

Exterior of The Royal Hotel
The top two floors of the 1881 building’s facade are original, while the main level is entirely new. Photography by Jeff McNeill.

The effect conjures the underside of a mushroom dripping with morning dew, nodding to the area’s agricultural spirit. Another reminder of the site’s history: A building once used as a stable for guests’ horses was transformed into the Annex, which houses an additional five suites. 

One thematic constant is textiles; more specifically, Victorian-era tartans. “These references were inspired by the various wallcoverings and carpeting still present during our first walk-through,” Giannone adds. They were reinterpreted as custom carpets and other fabrics, but a more novel application is the designers’ experiments with “petrified textiles,” like the custom tartan stone mosaics in guest bathrooms and the parlor’s CNC-sculpted fireplace surround that evokes starched white linen. The designers even playfully referenced the hotel’s formerly downtrodden state with millwork that “exposes” wall studs, tiles offset to mimic an out-of-place rug, and rippled ceiling effects that look almost like puddles. These elements make the Royal Hotel something simultaneously frozen in time and utterly contemporary. 

dining area punctuated by a bright chandelier
In the dining room, sculpted fins of acoustic board and custom ceramic pendant fixtures evoke a dew-dappled mushroom. Photography by Graydon Herriott.
bedroom with wooden panels and marble walls
A Golden Raddix marble slab backdrops the Royal Gala suite’s double-sided fireplace. Photography by Doublespace.
bathroom with oval mirrors and white sink
The custom stone tile pattern emulates a Victorian tartan textile on a guest bathroom’s wall and floor. Photography by Doublespace.
interior hallway of the Royal Hotel
The same motif perks up a corridor’s Axminster runner, its coloration harmonizing with the white-oak paneling. Photography by Greg Pacek.
sitting room area with grey couches, fireplace and bathtub
A fumed-oak wall reminiscent of Victorian-era dressing screens encloses the Empire Suite’s soaking tub. Photography by Doublespace.
sitting area with multicolored chairs and tv
A starched tablecloth inspired the parlor fireplace surround; Bocci ceiling fixtures and air vents channel pond ripples. Photography by Doublespace.
exterior of The Royal Hotel surrounding by greenery
The property’s horse barn was converted into the Annex, clad in Kebony wood and topped with a zinc roof. Photography by Doublespace.
aerial view of the garden area
A landscaped garden terrace of red-clay brick extends from the dining room. Photography by Jeff McNeill.
staircase entry with yellow boards
Powder-coated steel panels distinguish a staircase in the Annex of The Royal Hotel in Picton, Canada, by Giannone Petricone Architects. Photography by Doublespace.
hotel bedroom with red carpet and brown drapes
An Annex suite is one of five in the structure. Photography by Graydon Herriott.

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