INSIDE SCOOP WITH RAMI FUSTOK: THE MAN BEHIND THE MANDRAKE
A step into The Mandrake is an immersion into sensory bliss, where guests are immediately greeted with obscure, shamanic sounds while walking through the dimly lit entrance hallway, then with an artistic feast for the eyes upon arriving in the lobby. Enter the Garden of Eden and depart the city of London when you arrive. Located on Newman Street in Fitzrovia, the newly opened property is the first hotel venture by Beirut-born Londoner and founder, Rami Fustok, whose passion for art is evident in each intricate detail of his hotel’s design.
“I suppose the vision was to create more than a hotel: it was to create a place guests would never want to leave. The personality of the hotel changes on every floor and at different times of the day, but it’s always seductive and mysterious”, Fusktok says. “I believe everything is unique and different: from the rooms, to the food, to the music, to the interiors and architecture. Everything has beauty and soul.”
Following years of under-the-radar preparation, it was a sight to witness the before-and-after transformation of the 34-room boutique establishment from an early stage: the bare rooms yet to be outfitted do not resemble the hotel’s lavish, Instagrammable nature today. From the cascade of plants that adorn the courtyard, to the luxurious interiors featuring opulent, velvet furnishings with a hedonistic flair, complete with original commissioned artwork and pieces by the likes of Thomas Hooper, Jeff Koons, Marlene Mocquet and more, each corner holds a surprise waiting to be discovered. Since its doors opened in the middle of September of this year, The Mandrake has already established itself as a burgeoning, ‘must-visit’ mainstay hotspot ahead of introducing its ‘Artist in Residence’ programme, which will support emerging and reputable artists. Fustok shares his vision for the hotel, and what we can expect from The Mandrake in the coming year.
The interiors and architecture of the property shape the ambiance and aesthetic of the hotel with its unique layout. How did you find the space, and what was the build-out process like?
A friend showed me the site, saying, “It’s screaming your name.” The build was long, complicated and challenging. I wanted a space we could thoroughly inhabit and possess, not just dress like a film set. As for the process, I was passionate about the journey of creating this particular dream, so I relished it immensely.
How did you select and curate the artwork featured in the property? What are a few of your favourite pieces?
I have grown up amidst art as my mother is a renowned sculptor. Art has always been central to my life. I don’t mean to be pedantic, but the art in The Mandrake isn’t, for the most part, curated. It’s chosen like a colour scheme to fit in with a brand. So much of the art is my collection – a reflection of what I love and value, and the things that inspire me. You can’t ask for my favourite… It’s like asking which of your children you love most.
As your first hotel venture, what were some challenges to overcome in the development of opening The Mandrake?
Obtaining a change of use from offices to a hotel, and, of course, dealing with the huge variety of different and specialised contractors we needed. Then when that was done, finding not just great staff, but the right great staff who would be part of The Mandrake’s unique vision. On top of all this, I was an unknown entity.
What can we look forward to this year as The Mandrake makes its imprint on London?
We have an intriguing and vibrant programme. The legendary tattoo artist Mark Mahoney is coming from Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to The Mandrake to be our first artist in residence. There will be more musicians about, and we will always be honing and improving our service. We continually seek to be better: it’s a continual process as we can never be perfect. We hope our roots stay grounded and grow far and wide, making people happy and elevated.
[Images are courtesy of The Mandrake]