Journey through the ages at Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection
The recently opened Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection is a historical beacon in the city of Lucca, at the foot of the Apuan Alps. Standing gracefully overlooking Piazza del Giglio and Piazza Napoleone, Grand Universe Lucca has evolved through the millenniums, from a glassblower’s atelier in the Roman era, to a majestic palazzo during the Renaissance, and a monumental hotel in the mid-18th century.
Now, Grand Universe Lucca has opened its doors to a new generation after a multi-million pound renovation led by Archea Associati S.r.l, restoring the hotel to its ancient glowing splendour. The hotel’s past lives on today; original features including an ancient glassblower’s fountain are tastefully integrated with modern design touches for a unique blend of timeless style and contemporary sophistication.
Regional Managing Director of Shaner Hotels, Georges Midleje comments: “At Grand Universe Lucca, we’re incredibly proud of our heritage, and even prouder that we can tell our story to guests that stay with us. Through the amazing work of Archea Associati we’re able to take guests on a journey through the ages, discovering the history of the city and building in a setting that is both welcoming and premium”.
Honouring Lucca’s past as the ancient silk production capital of the Western World, silk and velvet textiles in earthy shades of grape red, pine green and Tuscan sun yellow characterise a number of spaces, notably the guestrooms and corridors. Similarly, playful nods to the region’s other significant industries are also incorporated into the design narrative; delicate wall tapestries with a floral glaze and an antique effect pay reverence to the region’s vineyards, and refined, glass and metal pendant lights in pay homage to the property’s glassblowing history.
An intriguing contrast, these traditional materials are smartly interrupted with modern wooden surfaces and polished gold detailing that elevate the interiors into the current time, a captivating blend of old and new. Moreover, modern lighting systems are integrated into upholstered, velvet headboards in the guestrooms, and antique-style cabinets feature contemporary metallic finishes.
Grand Universe Lucca’s intrinsic connection with the local area is also shown through the curation of artworks that are scattered throughout the hotel. Floral motifs, typical of authentic Tuscan residences, as well as paintings and artefacts sourced from local antique stores adorn the walls and decorate the shelves. An ancient coin collection that was discovered in the city of Lucca, has been preserved and framed, ready for guests to discover as they enter the hotel.
While the furnishings and finishings have all been introduced during the renovation, the functional layout of the building remains the same. With the original room and corridor arrangements, guests can trace the footsteps of some of the world’s finest poets, philosophers and artists that frequented the hotel during the eighteenth century, from Giuseppe Ungarettian to John Ruskin.
During the renovation of these ancient spaces, remnants of wall foundations and terracotta objects dating back to the Roman times were unexpectedly discovered in the underground cellar. Though they were not originally accounted for, upon discovery these ancient artefacts were protected and integrated into the final design, and now take centre stage in the hotel’s intimate wine cellar.
Another key influence for the design and identity of the hotel is music. One of Italy’s finest opera composers; Giacomo Puccini was in fact born in Lucca and a regular visitor of the original hotel. Today, his influence is seen throughout Grand Universe Lucca, from guestrooms named the ‘Puccini Suite’ to the hotel’s dedicated Symphony Lounge. Here, an arrangement of informal seating surrounds a central grand piano where music enthusiasts can have a piece of music created by the hotel’s very own in-house composer, based on each guest’s personality.
All images copyright Marriott International
About Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection
Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection, is a 55-guestroom, boutique hotel located in the heart of the historic, walled city of Lucca, Italy. Overlooking Piazza del Giglio and Piazza Napoleone, the former 16th century palazzo showcases a masterfully renovated design, inspired by art and music influences, evocative of the city’s past and present. The hotel offers several dynamic culinary outlets, namely the fine-dining, Tuscan restaurant, Legacy; rooftop bar Sommitá; wine cellar, Eterno; and a welcoming piano lounge, Symphony.