Rottet Studio has renovated C. Baldwin, Curio Collection by Hilton, a 354-room hotel in downtown Houston.

The existing bones of the building offered tall ceilings to work with, helping the studio to create an indoor-outdoor experience, while entire front and back facades were replaced to allow more light to filter in. The transformation begins with the lobby, which opens to both West Dallas Street and Sam Houston Park on the north and a newly renovated garden with expansive views to the south. The space also encompasses a sweeping staircase, which surrounds a bar and provides access to a pre-function area and ballrooms above.

The lobby at C. Baldwin Hotel in Houston, Texas

Interiors were conceived as a contemporary, urban version of “Life on the Ranch”; the redesigned front lawn resembles the entry drive of a ranch rather than a hotel drop-off point, while the lobby is positioned in the centre of the property and features a beamed ceiling typical of the main hall at Texan farmhouse. To the left is the Smythie, where guests can enjoy some retail therapy, as well as a Houston classic called Sloan Hall.

The colour palette and textures continue the wider theme, with natural walnut on the vertical surfaces symbolising the brown woods of ranch fences, and Texas limestone alluding to the shades of conglomerate ranch roads. Elsewhere, airy open-plan spaces like a dance hall and bar reflect the rural lifestyle of The Long Star State, while a women’s club puts a modern twist on the hidden speakeasy – a stable at most ranches.

The lobby at C. Baldwin Hotel in Houston, Texas

Upstairs, the corridors to the guestrooms are lined with tree-like wallpaper and the carpet embodies ranch roads covered with leafy shadows from the canopy above. Inside the rooms, a deep magnolia leaf green wardrobe with a leather pouch is equipped with all the necessities of life on the ranch, or in this case the urban metropolis. Rugs mirror the reflection of Texas tall oaks on the land and a saddle coloured leather headboard envelopes the bed. No ranch room is complete without a rocking chair, so one sits gracefully in the corner, while a green marble desk also serves as a private dining table and is set in front of a comfy sofa.

C. Baldwin takes its name from Charlotte Baldwin Allen, known in Texan history as the “mother of Houston”. She was the wife of Augustus Chapman Allen, who used her inheritance to finance the founding of the city. As such, the property is a tribute to the tenacity and strength of not only Baldwin Allen, but to all of the Texas women who founded it, shaped it and continue to nurture it today. The acknowledgment its famous namesake is not subtle, rather emblazoned on the outside entrance silhouetted in front of a live green wall. The hotel logo meanwhile is a simple X above a blank line – a logo that has deep symbolism and meaning as during Baldwin’s day, women could not own property and were unable to sign their own names on legal documents when conducting business matters. Meeting rooms are also named after famous Texas women, including lawyer Barbara Jordan, preservationist Adina De Zavala and singer-songwriter Janis Joplin.

The exterior facade at C. Baldwin Hotel in Houston, Texas

The hotel was also conceived by acclaimed architect and designer Lauren Rottet, who became the first women to hold the titles of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and Fellow of the International Interior Design Association (FIIDA), while the restaurants and bar were devised by a female lead from Philadelphia-based design firm Rohe Creative. There’s also a female GM, PR team, Executive Chef and Director of Human Resources to name but a few. Even the guestroom photography features notable Texas photographer, Elizabeth Conley, while downstairs, beauty retreat Paloma is run by a trailblazing local woman.

“C. Baldwin is inspired by trailblazing woman who, regardless of notoriety, invested in Houston and wanted to make a difference in her community,” says General Manager Maggie Rosa. “We have an outstanding team that has the desire and drive to do the same, incorporating their passion into everything they do.”

A guestroom at C. Baldwin Hotel in Houston, Texas

“A concerted effort was made not only to involve female decision-makers in the hotel’s development but to also create spaces that would appeal to the female traveller while intriguing their male counterparts,” Rosa adds. “With all of the property’s efforts, from its namesake to its photography and programming, C. Baldwin aims to inspire the guests who walk through the doors. The goal of is to leave guests with the message that the sky is the limit in life – be inspired by the legacy you can leave, by what you can create, by what you can make happen. Appropriate for a hotel that’s all about elevating the voices of women, both past and present.”

Photography: © Eric Laignel