To create a restaurant lauded as one of the world’s best — as Barcelona studio Astet has done with Leña, in Marbella, Spain — you have to make it spectacular in every way, from the showpiece ceilings and the cozy banquettes to the bathroom. At Leña, the trip to the loo follows a luxurious arched hallway wrapped in corrugated brass sheets and micro-cement panels, a rarified experience that’s of a piece with the outstanding dining ambience. We asked Ala Zreigat, who runs Astet with Oscar Engroba, how they design these spaces with special attention.
We always think of bathrooms as a natural extension of the restaurant concept. Why should the journey to the bathroom be any different? However, it’s also a chance to explore that concept with a different interpretation: The idea is to always have an element of surprise where you least expect it. For the washroom “cabins” of Leña, for example, we wanted them to have a completely opposite look to the brass “bathroom lobby” and go much darker, so we used weathered black metal sheets and very soft indirect lighting.
Again at Leña, it was really important to us to get the right finishes to align for a cohesive look, which included integrating all the bathroom accessories so they appear hidden but are still visible enough for people to use. Also, the cabin doors don’t have frames, so the look is completely seamless when they’re closed.
It’s always a balance between aesthetics and functionality. Bathrooms primarily need to function and be very practical and easy to clean.
With the rise of social media, we are seeing more and more focus on design in this space: When people started taking and sharing their selfies in fancy washrooms, it influenced a shift towards interesting bathroom design. More importantly, owners who pay attention to that part of their restaurant also signal that they are concerned about their patrons’ comfort and well-being. The bathroom is the most intimate and private space in a restaurant — and that’s why the user experience in this area has become ever more relevant.
Astet knows how to make the washroom an integral part of an opulent restaurant scheme.