Bank Alfalah’s guesthouse – a home away from home
By Nazish K Siddiqui
On the outside, it’s like any other house in a long line of houses in Lahore’s Cantt District. But Bank Alfalah’s guest house is a blend of world class hospitality with all the amenities of home. A courteous and helpful staff on call at all times, a guest taking in its sumptuous décor could very well get a little spoiled.
The guest house’s manager and interior designer Ismat Majid was on hand to talk about what it takes to do up such a fabulous space. “You know, with a moderate budget, I was able to have the entire guest house redone, (it’s regularly renovated) and that is where the challenge lies. Anyone can make anything possible if there are no constraints, no limitations. The true art is in making the best out of available options, and that includes the finances.”
And the proof is in the pudding. As Ismat walked from room to room, describing in detail the way that each room came together, it was obviously a labor of love for her, and she was extremely proud of the results. With attention to the finest detail, the ambience of the guest house was elegant, warm, inviting and above all, comfortable. It is a far cry from the cold and sterile photocopied rooms of hotels across the country.
As guests make their way through the houses wooden double doors the foyer greets them before splitting into an upstairs staircase and the lower portion of the home. The foyer itself carries a large impressionist painting reproduction, highlighted with spotlighting and framed at the base with a rug.
Glass doors lead to the lounge, complete with fire place and entertainment center against the wall. It is the very definition of casual elegance, the base of white leather, cool glass, and steel tempered with fiery hot, floor coverings, cushions and interesting accessories to add vibrant color and life.
The lower portion of the guest house has a small study, a master guestroom with attached bathroom is a luxurious suite done in white carpeting, low to the ground dark wood furniture, with one corner screaming fury with gorgeous textured red wall paper that serves as a back drop to off white wing chairs.
The matching red headboard is upholstered and quilted, and leans against a dark wood wall board, adding a stark contrast of bright against dark, giving it an exotic and dramatic feel. Low side tables match the equally low TV table. The lounge and formal drawing room are separated by glass a door which allows the space to have a sense of free flow. Some unique pieces in this room are the mirrors adorning the walls. One is made of three overlapping rings; the other features a peacock’s plumage. Another feature that catches the eye is the lounge chaise or divan near the glass doors that Ismat had upholstered in sheer fabric usually reserved for window dressing, “I was adamant that it should go on this piece, even though my craftsmen were against this idea, considering its delicate nature, but I am glad because the results are stunning.”
Glass doors lead from the drawing room to the formal dining area, where high backed chairs, upholstered in a rich peach shade gather around the glass topped dining table. Rather than having an etched glass top, Ismat instead opted for having a table with pieces of cut glass attached to the bottom end of the surface with glue to give an equally beautiful yet unique touch. The breakfast nook is at the corner of the lounge and dining area, and leads to the kitchen as well. With bistro style steel chairs and a glass topped table for four, a cozy breakfast is just the thing to look forward to in the mornings here. Roman blinds made of jute and embroidered with whimsical gray and red flora keep it private and allow just enough light in the daytime.
As guests make their way up the stairs to four more guestrooms, they are greeted with an open lounge, with two distinct seating areas resplendent with the aura of hotel lobby seating. It truly feels like you could be in a world class hotel as you stroll down to your room. With caramel colored chairs upholstered in silks and suede paired with glass and teak wood tables, and sprinkled with a healthy dose of artwork and mirrors throughout, the whole effect is chic sophistication.
Near the staircase is a compact room, in contemporary style that is suitable for a single guest. The floors have been laminated in a pine wood design and color. The matching wood on the base board of the bed and its rolling side table brighten up the windowless room. More brightness is added with the enormous pink rose that has been painted on one wall.
Another guestroom is similar to the one on the first floor, carrying on the wall to wall carpeting and hand rugs with dark wood furniture, this time in a more traditional style, with ornate wrought iron on the headboard, and side tables. At the foot of the bed is a mini bench/ chaise that comes in handy for laying out clothes or to sit on when wearing shoes, but most importantly, it’s great for simply adding elegance and style to the room. The corner window is draped in golden beige fabric with sheer panels topping them off.
With opulent draperies in wine and caramel roman blinds to match the bedding and complement the rich dark wood furniture, the third guest room is decadent and indulgent. The checkerboard headboard is eye catching as is the low slung table that holds the TV.
Ismat has a knack for picking out eye catching accessories and grouping them to add to the beauty of the surroundings. A single item can grab your attention before you can see the room as a whole. It may not be home, but if you got the chance to stay here, it would make the perfect home away from home.
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 5, September 2008