The Principal York

The Principal York has won the Gold Award for Hospitality Interior Design at the London Design Awards 2016.  The new award is in addition to the hotel’s double success at the Visit York Tourism Awards, where it won both Conference Venue of the Year and the overall Hotel of the Year. The Principal York was also shortlisted twice over for the refurbishment of its public spaces at the European Hotel Design Awards at the end of 2016. It was designed by Goddard Littlefair and is one of the launch hotels for Principle, a collection of landmark hotels in UK city centres, including Edinburgh, Manchester and London.


Originally one of Britain’s greatest Victorian railway hotels, the Grade-II-listed hotel boasts beautiful gardens and views over York Minster, the purpose-built building was designed in yellow Scarborough brick by architect William Peachey and first opened its doors in 1878.

Goddard Littlefair Director and Co-Founder Jo Littlefair explained ‘Our overall ambition was to breathe life back into every artery of the hotel’s interior, giving a nod to tradition and heritage, but also creating a tremendously warm, light and welcoming contemporary environment for guests. We were briefed to reinstate the hotel’s essential character and to pay respect to its original architecture, whilst at the same time ensuring a feeling of comfort, restfulness, so that The Principal York was once again a true destination hotel.’


The interior design focused on creating a modern interpretation of a country house, featuring over-scaled furniture, such as large wing chairs, to embrace a sense of welcome. This is combined with a light and soothing colour palette with small amounts of texture and pattern within the furniture for added interest.

Goddard Littlefair hand-picked a series of antique objects from markets around the country, including old trunks and beautiful stone dogs. The hotel’s own archives were thoroughly investigated too in the search for treasure from the past. They revealed such gems as a collection of old thank-you letters from the 1930s through to the 1950s, which have been used for display in the corridor approaching the restaurant. The furniture throughout the hotel is bespoke which ensures it is always designed with the exact location, function and end-user in mind.


Jo Littlefair summarised the overall scheme: “This project has been a great experience for us. It has been incredibly rewarding and we feel privileged to have been involved. We love restoration projects and challenges – particularly, as here, when we can address the whole space, be creative and successfully breathe new life into a property.”


Bute at The Principal York


A mill visit enabled Goddard Littlefair to discover Bute Fabrics manufacturing capabilities, the precision in their weaving, quality control and the beauty of their finished product. The Goddard Littlefair team were also able to meet with the Bute designers and discus their requirements for a textured but calm throw which balanced luxury with neutral tones. Together the two teams carefully selected the colours for Bute’s beautiful bespoke soft wool throws which can be found in the suites and bedrooms at The Principle York.

Heathfield at The Principal York


The Principle York features a range of bespoke lighting designs, crafted by Heathfield & Co, working in collaboration with Goddard Littlefair interior architects. Table, wall and floor lamps are featured through a number of guest rooms and suites, inspiring ceiling pendants create stunning focal points in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge and Garden Room and additional bespoke designs are also found in meeting rooms and bar interiors.

Beautiful, bespoke chandeliers, made up of faceted, cut crystal baguettes set within in bronze frames, were developed between Goddard Littlefair and Heathfield, there are three chandeliers in the Garden Room and three more in the Lobby Lounge, one of which, which hangs down through the stairwell, is triple-tiered.

Heathfield & Co places a strong emphasis on its bespoke production, which makes effective use of its UK-based manufacturing facilities.

About Goddard Littlefair

Goddard Littlefair was founded by Martin Goddard and Jo Littlefair in 2012. Both founders have a reputation for innovation, creativity and exquisite detail in their main spheres of hotel, leisure, spa and residential design, having worked on many of the capital’s landmark hospitality and luxury residential projects. The company’s ethos is all about human responses to an environment – space, light, textures and finishes – and the great creative collaboration that comes from having real trust and understanding with each and every client, partner and supplier on the team. Clients include: Ennismore, Canary Wharf Group, Qatari Diar, Corinthia Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Berkeley Homes and Starwood Capital Hotels. Goddard Littlefair projects have won eight awards in the past year, including a Sunday Times British Homes Award, an Evening Standard Property Award, a Restaurant & Bar Design Award and a Gold Award at the London Design Awards.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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