2024 Hotel Design Award: Lodge at Marconi by Home Studios


During his initial visit to Tomales Bay, Oliver Haslegrave was “taken by the landscape and ecology—its rugged coastline, diverse geography and wildlife and scenic landscapes of hills, forests and wetlands,” he recalls. That first impression would later influence the New York-based designer’s maiden Northern California project.

The reception building’s primary gathering space offers various seating options—including a custom sectional covered in a Kravet striped fabric—as well as views of the state park and Tomales Bay. Photos by Brian Ferry.

After collaborating with Oliver Hospitality on the Oliver Royale restaurant, which debuted in 2015 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Haslegrave’s Home Studios teamed up with the company once more to reimagine Lodge at Marconi. The hotel is situated on 62 acres along Highway 1, within Marin County’s Marconi State Historic Park and overlooking Tomales Bay.

Just off the reception area is another spot for respite, with ample seating and a custom tapestry by Niki Tsukamoto of Lookout & Wonderland. Photos by Brian Ferry.

The serenity of the site belies some of its history: Around 1914, Guglielmo Marconi developed it for a radio receiving station, with a hotel for staff and visitors. In the 1960s, it became a rehab facility, called Synanon, which turned into a cult that ultimately disbanded. In 1989, California State Parks took over, making it a conference center. Four residential buildings that architect Ellis Kaplan designed for Synanon in the 1970s were converted into accommodations (the original hotel on the grounds is not currently in use). Oliver Hospitality became involved in early 2022.

Tucked inside the reception building, a table flanked by custom chairs upholstered in a durable United Fabrics textile makes for a tranquil work or dining space. Photos by Brian Ferry.

All these decades, one thing has been a constant: the exquisite environs. And now, following a 17-month renovation completed last year, the interiors of the Kaplan structures are remarkable as well. Lodge at Marconi’s 45 guest rooms and suites, plus communal spaces, are clustered around a courtyard. “The design pays homage to Third Bay Tradition architecture principles by centering shared spaces to gather and commune, while programmatically emphasizing the value of connection and community,” Haslegrave says.

The Redwood Dining Hall, which will eventually serve as an on-site restaurant, is appointed with oak aplenty and a palette inspired by the surroundings (case in point: the green Heath Ceramics tiles). Photos by Brian Ferry.

Setting foot inside the reception building, guests encounter a welcome desk lined with tiles by Heath Ceramics, which is headquartered about an hour away in Sausalito. The same glazed squares appear on the fireplace in the neighboring room, where a generously sized striped sectional provides a perch for enjoying the scenery. Amid unfettered windows and a soaring ceiling, Haslegrave created multiple seating areas—though his favorite spot is a table just outside that looks out to the water.

Among the accommodations at Lodge at Marconi is a king suite outfitted with custom furniture and accessories—right down to the eco-friendly patterned throw blanket by In2Green. Photos by Brian Ferry.

In the guest quarters, “much of the custom millwork and furnishings are in oak, which brings the surrounding outdoors indoors,” he notes. Along with larger wooden pieces like desk chairs, daybeds, benches and nightstands, oak appears as an accent in the lighting. A short distance up the hill, in the Redwood Dining Hall—which will offer a restaurant at a later date—Haslegrave chose oak dining chairs and bar stools. The venue’s striking multi-paneled linen-and-wood screen represents a collaboration with California-based artist Lukas Geronimas Giniotis.

The original tilework remains in the shower in room 321, which is located in a building that was designed as a residence for the founder of Synanon, according to Lodge at Marconi general manager Bryon Parsons. Photos by Brian Ferry.

Also imbuing a strong sense of place is the color scheme throughout, which is “informed by the unspoiled beauty of West Marin’s natural landscape—neutral shades of mossy green, rich tonal browns and warm yellows,” Haslegrave explains. “This palette aims to capture the essence of Tomales Bay, incorporating the various colors found in its water, land, flora and fauna. The sky above Tomales Bay contributes to the overall ambiance. Clear, sunny days may introduce a bright blue sky, while foggy or overcast days can bring in softer, muted tones.”