ON THE SCENE: NEW OPENINGS AUGUST 2016
It’s quiet out there, hey? Emails have slowed down and the office chatter is a little less chatty, the queue for your lunchtime salad is shorter than usual, and out-of-office replies are in good health. That is if you’re not buoyed up on an inflatable and calling over another piña colada yourself. August is holiday season, but for those of us left behind, tapping on our laptops instead of doggy-paddling to the pool bar, it’s a chance to have a think about where we’ve come from, and where we’re going — especially given it’s our first On the Scene column since this year’s LE; hundreds more connections made, plenty more cocktails sank, and six new REBELS honoured.
2016 REBELS may have given plaudits to projects past, or openings now less-than-fresh, but winner of GREATEST INNOVATION/DISRUPTION has already set sail (literally) on its way to a new opening of its own; floating not-for-profit hotel project The Good Hotel Amsterdam set to re-open as Good Hotel London at Newham’s Royal Docks in September. Lauded for the ‘shock of the new’, the social concept might have ended its one-year pop-in in the Dutch capital — promising to be back with permanent plans soon — but the disruption lives on, looking to re-integrate long-term unemployed Londoners and put them on the road to a career in hospitality.
Back in the Venice of the north, a Gen Y-focussed brand led by Hans Meyer and Marc Jongerius is innovating and disrupting its way to international recognition, their modular Zoku Loft concept debuting at a recent opening in the city. The duo know a thing or two about making the most of space — Meyer is the initial creator, co-founder and former partner of citizenM — and Zoku Amsterdam sees a lot going on in a very small footprint; the loft concept cleverly squeezing fully-equipped kitchens and work, sleep, and storage space into an average surface of around 25 m2. As is the way with these projects, the breathing space comes in the communal areas, where the lines between business and pleasure are blurred. Worth noting: Hans Meyer’s former interest continue their Millennial-minded march with the recent unveiling of citizenM Tower of London, and a central Hackney hotel on the way.
Congrats to Mondrian South Beach, whose award-winning collaboration with New York-based Dawn Of Man saw 250,000 ping-pong balls and an interactive video art installation transform their pool area — but what for 2017’s MOST CREATIVE COLLABORATION? It might be Casa Bonay, featured in March’s On the Scene, who have worked with practically every Barcelona creative worth their salt, or it could be an even newer opening; Amastan having launched what they call ‘Paris’s first project space dedicated fully to temporary installations’ along with their debut hotel near the Champs-Elysées. Pop-In at Amastan Paris has just finished its debut collaboration, a month-long residency with London-based jewellery brand URiBE; expect plenty more from the blank canvas for artistic expression between now and next year’s LE. The hotel itself? A refreshing antidote to the new-maximalism that has gripped the French capital, light and sophisticated, with a refined use of colour and materials.
Let us stay in the City of Lights briefly, for opening new hotels seems to have become a city-wide obsession of late — recent editions of On the Scene have been awash with new Parisian boltholes, and August’s digest is no different; as we add OFF Paris Seine, Hotel Le Roch, and Hotel de JoBo to the city’s bulging portfolio.
Occupying a spot on the Seine itself, OFF is moored near to new fashion and design hub Les Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design, and is really all about its brilliant outdoor terrace, where evenings can turn into early mornings on the water of the iconic river. Sharing an air of sophistication with Amastan, Hotel Le Roch owes its fine looks to revered Parisian designer Sarah Lavoine; whilst Hotel de JoBo leans towards that aforementioned trend that has defined many of the city’s recent openings, famed maximalist Bambi Sloan running riot throughout the 24-room hotel.
New York’s The Knickerbocker Hotel celebrated its 109th anniversary last year with a competition to bag a night for the original 1906 rate of $2.00, demonstrating the sort of creative marketing nous required to walk away with this year’s MOST ORIGINAL CAMPAIGN award — next June might see another contest deemed REBEL-worthy; as QT Melbourne gears up for its 5 September opening with a very original campaign.
The hip hotel brand’s arrival in Australia’s capital of cool is being marked by an Instagram challenge that goes under the name #RoomNumberRedo. (Which is a big hint as to its content.) Interpretations — photographic, illustrative, performance-based — of numbers 1 to 101 can see the public invited to the new hotel’s launch party and enjoy a free night in a brand-new bed, whilst the legacy left will offer a slice of crowd-sourced creativity to the hotel’s fashion-inspired design. Side note: Wellington’s Museum Art Hotel is currently in the midst of a makeover at the hands of QT Hotels and Resorts, who will make the New Zealand capital the site of their first property outside of Oz.
Of course, the REBELS kept on coming that humid (and very wet) Thursday night. Ace recognised for BEST INTERACTION WITH NEIGHBOURHOOD in their collaboration with New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band; New York’s Refinery given GREATEST GUEST EXPERIENCE for their efforts to inspire and support the healthy habits of their guests; and Soho House Istanbul honoured for their overt sexiness. Something else that keeps on coming? New openings. Coming at such a pace that you can’t help but feel sympathy for those who have to draw up next year’s shortlist.
In Spain alone there are five new openings that could be contenders to Soho House Istanbul’s throne of desirability: Barcelona’s flawless Monument Hotel housed in an imposing neo-Gothic mansion on Passeig de Gràcia; Room Mate continuing their rapid expansion with the nearby Anna, an exercise in contemporary opulence led by Madrid-based antiques dealer and interior designer Lorenzo Castillo; TÓTEM Madrid harnessing the glamour of the city’s most exclusive barrio, Salamanca; Nakar Hotel is a polished amalgam of simplicity and neutral hues in stylish Palma de Mallorca; whilst Hotel Camiral is an entirely fancy affair set on an equally fancy golf resort in the Catalan countryside, an hour and a half outside Barcelona, 25 minutes from Girona. Spain is hot right now. (Literally.)
And the march continues, with two unique hospitality projects that could be shortlisted for neighbourhood interaction and guest experience respectively. Diverse in location, but not in determination to inspire, Leeds and Reykjavík are our final stopovers. Quoting terms like ‘urban revitalisation’, ‘ethical tourism’, and ‘social enterprise’, Art Hostel Leeds is the first of its kind in Britain, embarking on a social mission that aims to create employment and income, regenerate its neighbourhood, and seek new ways to engage artists with locals, and locals with artists alike. Uniquely artist-designed rooms are as rough around the edges as one expects from a hostel, but the focus is on supporting the city’s creative community — a project space for exhibitions, installations, and events at the heart of a project looking to make its mark on the people of the city currently bidding for 2023 European Capital of Culture.
Equally committed to the arts, we’re some miles north to Iceland, and a ‘ho(s)tel’ with design running through its icy veins. ODDSSON has entered the arena of properties that are redrawing the line that once existed between hostel and hotel; pitching tiny pod-rooms and bunk-beds alongside iconic museum-worthy design pieces, in a proposition for what they call ‘thrifty people with expensive tastes’.
2017’s GREATEST GUEST EXPERIENCE could be sewn up by a project that looks at everything through its own iconoclastic spectacles — a soundproofed karaoke booth in the middle of the restaurant where nobody can hear you, but absolutely everybody can see you; a ‘Lost Luggage Program’ where those who have suffered at the hands of incompetent airlines can borrow clothes from Icelandic designers; yoga sessions; or playing design-classic bingo by spotting rarities from the likes of Ettore Sotssass, Michel Ducaroy, or Pierre Jeanneret.
In short: 2015 was an incredible year for design-led travel, 2016 looks only set to top it. With bells on.