Architect and interior designer Jean-Philippe Nuel and Biarritz architect Bernard Signoret have given shape to the Hotel Villa Koegui and the restaurant Le Carré in Bayonne, the thousand-year-old city located in the French Basque country.
The contemporary facade echoes the city’s half-timbered buildings, which bear witness to the architectural tradition of the shipbuilding industry, “a facade that is deliberately fragmented to blend with its dense surroundings,” adds Nuel.
The hotel’s common areas and rooms are decorated with a collection of more than 600 works of art—engravings, traditional paintings from the 19th century and more contemporary works—whose common denominator is the Basque Country. The artistic appeal is completed by the first-floor bookshelves filled with a selection of novels, poetry, and photographic works, each one selected by Guy Néplaz, the hotel’s owner, a publisher, and a seller of vintage books. The personalized touch ingrains the hotel with a welcoming, familiar, and human atmosphere.
Villa Koegui’s restaurant, Le Carré, reflects its past as the Carré Bonnat, once the gathering place of the Basque artistic avant-garde. Here, the hotel function recedes into the background to make room for the nourishing Basque gastronomic culture.
Photo: Courtesy of Studio Jean-Philippe Nuel