ON THE SCENE: NEW OPENINGS JUNE 2016
The last time we met for an edition of On the Scene, we were talking fornicating rabbits and Jesus. This time? The global creative class symposium that is bigger than that man from Nazareth. Yes. LE Miami, The Beatles of creative travel events, is just days away. Swimwear is packed, Beroccas are bought, appointments have been made, and daytime reveries of South Beach sunrises are already upsetting your productivity.
As well as the leading lights in culturally-conscious travel networking themselves silly; the Ministry of Ideas mulling over ideas like the extinction of the hotel, connected experiences, and what sort of a proprietor Batman would make; and copious amounts of cocktails, this year’s REBELS will be appointed. We’ll find out which campaign will be crowned the most original, who’s caused the greatest innovation or disruption, the collaboration that displayed the most creativity, and that most louche of honours: sexiest design, where the desirable Drake Devonshire Inn, flirtatious Faena Miami Beach, and slinky Soho House Istanbul, will do battle among a shortlist of other equally alluring hotels.
But who will make that list this time next year? One new opening that spells out seduction is a reawakened 18-room pied-à-terre in eastern Paris that dates back to 1854; imposing wallpapers from decadent London interiors brand House of Hackney, opulent materials, an overwhelming sense of grandiose for a small building … if The City of Light’s Hôtel Providence doesn’t make you think ‘sexy’ then you think of Hilda Ogden when everyone else thinks of Gisele.
Of course, Stan Ogden saw something in our Hilda, and everyone’s interpretation of sexiness varies. That’s what makes the world go round. Personally, I’m enamoured with another new European hotel; Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola having titillated my retro leanings. Urquiola was given a free rein in conjuring up some cinematic magic at Room Mate Giulia, Milan, which harks to the kitschiness of old-fashioned Italian domestic spaces and is, frankly, design porn of the highest order.
The Spanish hotel brand, founded by former Olympian Kike Sarasola, operates in that most emergent of niches — that of design- and budget-mindfulness — and this Milan outpost is one of 10 new Room Mate Hotels scheduled for this year. Another low-cost high-culture outfit (who it seems we can’t go an On the Scene without mentioning) are expanding too, Generator Stockholm and Generator Rome soon to be added to the hip-hostel brand’s portfolio.
Which brings us to a subject raised on these very pages just recently: hotels can’t help but be fashionably late. There’s a long list of hotels whose openings stretch the definition of ‘long-awaited’; take, for example, New York’s third Thompson hotel, The Beekman, mooted for months but having recently opened reservations for the end of July. The Brooklyn hotel boom will continue, albeit belatedly, with William Vale, the posh high-rise rescheduled from April to 11 July. The very lovely looking Mexican resort hotel, W Punta De Mita, is slated for 7 June (expected in March) and, after years (and a setback due to fire), Ritz Paris is readying itself to welcome deep-pocketed visitors to the French capital; 13 June its new opening date.
Another hotel that needed a little extra time in the powder room piques our interest at On the Scene, not least for its location. EAST Miami sees Swire Hotels bring their EAST brand out of … well, the East … for the first time, adding the home of LE to Hong Kong and Beijing as locations for the forward-thinking luxury chain. A key cornerstone of Downtown Miami’s new $1 billon Brickell City Centre complex, it will host the first outpost of revered Uruguay restaurant Parador La Huella among other bars and restaurants, and a 20,000 sq ft pool deck. Oh, and the just-opened hotel is the venue for LE’s 2016 opening party. Which counts for a lot.
Back to hotels that have opened, and we venture some 1,300 miles north to a city that lives amid a constant flux of new openings. No wonder it never sleeps. The latest landmark hotel for the Big Apple props up a vibrant quarter of SoHo and could run away with any number of REBEL accolades at LE 2017.
Sexy design: check. Creative collaboration: a health-conscious personally-curated minibar in partnership with Thrive Market, an affiliation with Conscious Commerce, donations to The Global Poverty Project with every reservation … check. Best interaction with neighbourhood? How about a partnership with Groundswell (a community arts project working with marginalised youth) that has resulted in a Jeff Koons-mentored, 150ft by 50ft mural on its south-facing exterior wall? 11 Howard sure has a lot going on.
Across the pond now, and to another city in new-opening flux: Barcelona, where the city’s 12-month ban on granting licenses for new hotels hasn’t slowed down new openings; The Wittmore another candidate for that title of sexiness, its atmospheric swagger complemented by the city’s tallest vertical garden, and a characterful restaurant helmed by renowned chef Albert Ventura. Soho House is penciled in for fall, but they’ve given the Catalan capital a (wanton) taste for things to come, with the exceedingly self-explanatory Chicken Shop & Dirty Burger. EDITION Hotels are set for a 2017 opening in the city.
It’s just a few short months since our last On the Scene, where New York welcomed Sago Hotel and Barcelona Casa Bonay, and former Facebook man Ezra Callahan debuted his tech-heavy ARRIVE Hotels concept, and this edition is already feeling the weight of countless notable newbies. And, let’s be honest, your mind is already on South Beach. Let us round things up with a final mention, for a project that embodies the spirit of LE, a future rebel: London’s Green Rooms.
Housed in a 1925 Art Deco building, a short stroll from King’s Cross and St Pancras, Green Rooms is the UK’s first ‘arts-led independent social enterprise hotel’; which means creatives are given preferential rates, from just £18 a night. The capital’s ongoing problem with affordable accommodation is tackled, and a creative community frame of mind is truly concreted in its ethos; this is no Soho House. Painters, musicians, designers, writers … current projects are taken into consideration as part of a reservation process that ensures members of the arts community find themselves among likeminded individuals, in what they call ‘a place to stay, a place to work, a place to play’. One to watch.