With refurbishment work on the Bell Hotel well underway, we’re excited to sit down with Rebecca and Eleanor from the Cotton Tree Interior design team, to hear what they have in store for our guests.

From what we’ve seen so far, you’ve really captured the essence of the Suffolk landscape and brought it into the hotel. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with the local area?

We’re Suffolk-based, so this is a dream project for me. Not least because we’ve always loved this historic building. But also because coastal Suffolk is so close to our heart. It’s magical being able to weave that into the look and feel of this iconic hotel.

How did you get involved with this project?

That’s down to Andrew Beale (Managing Director of the Beales Hotel Group). He approached us at the end of last year, and when he told us about his vision for The Bell, our ears really pricked up.

It turns out that Andrew, his son Ashley (the General Manager of The Bell), and the wider family, have spent many happy holidays here in Suffolk, so from the get-go we could see he had a clear and genuine love for our area.

Best of all, Andrew was passionate about creating individuality across all the hotel bedrooms. That meant we could theme each room on a different part of coastal Suffolk. Since then, it’s really been a creative whirlwind for us.

So how do you create a room that feels like a ‘place’?

That starts with the mood board really. Very early on, we realised that we had to move away from a traditional coastal look if we were to make each room truly different. So we thought about our own relationships with these locations. What made each place unique. Then we introduced a range of colours and textures that we felt evoked each area.

For example, we wanted to capture the colourful independent shops on Woodbridge High Street. And the beautiful huts along Southwold Promenade. The final result is impressionistic, with the aim of evoking not just the landscape, but the feel of the place each room represents.

We love the way the neutral tones, earth aspects and pops of colour on feature walls gives each room a personality. I think you really captured a colour palette for Suffolk.

The Bell Hotel team have been so supportive of our ideas throughout. We’re all on the same page. As Andrew told us, he wants his guests to truly experience the authentic Suffolk experience. We think that’s exactly what they’re going to get.

How did you approach the design for areas like the bar and lounge?

Getting the bar and lounge areas right was key to creating the whole look and feel of the hotel. You’ve got so much history and tradition here, so we wanted to respect and celebrate that, while adding a modern slant.

Were you given creative freedom on these elements?

The brief was very simple. The Coast Bar needed to be a space where guests could relax and enjoy a drink after a day of discovering Suffolk’s many joys. But it’s also a meeting spot for the local community too. So we needed to create a warm and inviting space, where everyone felt welcome. While also creating that necessary ‘wow’ factor, so it could be seen as a destination venue for anyone travelling to the area.

That’s why we went with wood panelled walls and comfy sofas. They’re great for drawing people in. The raised bar running down the room gives everything an air of sophistication, while also creating a neutral meeting point. Perfect for a chat while waiting for drinks to be served.

What was your favourite part of the hotel interior to design?

The restaurant, without a doubt. That was so fun to create and design! We knew we wanted to create something traditional, but add some modern twists. We had a few ideas, but as soon as we found the perfect wallpaper, the rest of the design quickly fell into place. The room really captures the personality of the whole hotel, and the surrounding area, in our opinion.

The reception area is a personal favourite.

Thank you. The trick to making this kind of project fit together is ensuring every element works together to build a bigger picture. When guests walk in, we wanted them to be wowed by the uniqueness of the place, but still get a sense of the familiar too. It’s the first thing they’ll see, and the start of their unforgettable holiday experience.

Finally, what do you want guests to take away from your interior design work at the Bell Hotel?

Well, we don’t want guests to think about it at all.  We want them to feel at home here, and also connected to these special places that make up coastal Suffolk. If they arrive and feel like they belong – that this place was made just for them, then we’ll be happy. Knowing our interior design work will play a part in creating untold magical coastal Suffolk getaways over the coming years is an amazing feeling. This truly is an area like no other.