Interview: Olga Polizzi,
Rocco Forte Hotels

Olga Polizzi

Olga Polizzi is the eldest daughter of the late hotelier Lord Charles Forte and she is the Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels. Olga is known for her simple design elegance and a style that incorporates the identities of the European cities where each hotel is located.

The Balmoral Hotel

Rocco Forte Hotels include: Hotel de Russie, Rome; Hotel Savoy, Florence; Verdura Resort, Sicily; The Balmoral, Edinburgh; Brown’s Hotel, London; The Charles Hotel, Munich; Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt; Hotel de Rome, Berlin; Hotel Amigo, Brussels; Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg. Olga also owns Hotel Tresanton in St. Mawes and Hotel Endsleigh in Devon.

Hotel Savoy, Irene

What will you be looking for that sets a design apart in the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards entries for 2015?

It must work for guests and staff, be innovative, comfortable, eclectic and surprising.

What do you think are the best current restaurant and bar Design Trends?

Very long bars, booth seating to give structure and privacy, contemporary and sophisticated lighting.

Hotel De Rome, La Banca bar

How do you think great food and great interior design are linked?

The food and service come first, but the design is a close second that should complement the food and add some interest and drama. Comfort is always important.

What design challenges are unique to hospitality?

The flow of a restaurant and kitchen space are very important, how the guests move through the space and particular areas they are drawn to. If you get this right, the rest should follow.

Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

Which area(s) of the world do you see as the best for emerging hospitality design?

Barcelona has got an amazing array of bars and restaurants, many of them quite stunning. That part of Spain has a knack of getting unusual colour combinations right, with charm and a sense of fun.

China is opening some grander, glitzier bars and restaurants mainly in hotels; marble and mirrors abound, with beautiful workmanship.

London also has a vibrant, interesting and a varied bar and restaurant scene, second to none.

What’s the greatest source of inspiration in your career?

My inspiration always can be traced back to the city each of our restaurants are in. The designs try to capture the mood and the spirit of the city whilst showcasing an element of the traditional design work of the local artisans in a contemporary way.

Brown's Hotel - Donovan Bar 'naughty corner'

What’s the greatest source of inspiration for you in the hospitality and hotel design business?

My father remains my inspiration. Lord Charles Forte came from a small village in Italy and created one of the largest hotel groups in the world through hard work and a true passion for the hospitality sector ahead of his time, introducing the service culture and innovative design to the masses.


Olga Polizzi is one of this year’s Restaurant & Bar Design Awards judges. For more interviews with other leading designers, architects and experts from hospitality and F&B design, visit our Interviews page.

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