ON THE SCENE: NEW OPENINGS MARCH 2016
Ahh Spring; the fornicating bunny rabbits, the annual opportunity to see how many Cadbury Creme Eggs you can devour in one sitting, the time off work. And something about some guy called Jesus.
For those of us sitting on the top half of the world, the bells of the vernal equinox have just rang — sending us into the season that signifies all changes positive. What better a time then than to drop into the latest edition of On the Scene … and have ourselves a little chinwag about a helping of shiny new openings.
Everyone’s favourite forefathers of the creative class hotel continue their march this March, adding some soul to their lineup by opening the doors of Ace Hotel New Orleans in the city’s Warehouse District. Longtime collaborators Roman & Williams have updated the interiors of an imposing Art Deco building, where the familiar glow of MacBooks will occupy a living-room style lobby; the sounds of live music drifting through from the hotel’s intimate Three Keys venue. It’s a city steeped in culture, and a hotel chain with the culturally-minded at its heart — NOLA is no Los Angeles, or New York, but that just makes for an altogether more interesting proposition.
From one city with cultural pedigree to another, and an Ace connection too: it was in our November On the Scene that we gave mention to a major new Barcelona hotel in the works, and it is in this edition that we report its eventual opening.
Inés Miro-Sans is a native of the Catalan capital, and had been a big part of the team at Ace Hotel New York prior to co-founding Casa Bonay and injecting all that she’s learnt about culture-rooted hotels — roping in a long list of creative collaborators to breathe new life into a building that was built in 1869 as the home of a wealthy family.
We have a micro-marketplace for an indie book publisher and fledgling fashion brand; locally-designed furniture and in-room accessories; one of the city’s leading pioneers of third-wave coffee; Spain’s first cold-pressed juice bar; and plenty more besides. They’re all here under one rationale, Miro-Sans’s intuition — collaboration by like-minded creatives the key that unlocks a conceptual hotel that is making big waves on the Med.
Some 1,600km almost directly north, and a thriving chain with similar spirit continues its expansion. Generator Hostels may not be quite as fancy as Casa Bonay, but their song sheet contains kindred lyrics. Barcelona; Paris; London; Berlin; and more, Generator this week added Amsterdam to the list of cosmopolitan cities where you can experience creative thinking on a modest budget.
Located in a former zoological university building in the city’s up-and-coming east, you can bed down in everything from a luxury apartment to shared rooms from 15€ … the brand’s usual mix of events, Boiler Room sessions, art collaborations, and local know-how await.
Staying in Amsterdam, and with the hip-hostel phenomenon, where another rising chain of creative budget hotels — The Student Hotel — have just introduced a new sub-brand; a playful dining concept set to be rolled out across their European locations. The Pool brings the hues of Miami Beach to central Amsterdam and, with it, a sense of swimming pool kitsch; we’re reminded against ‘heavy petting’, in a dazzling space where the cuisine takes its inspiration from the Old Silk Road.
Cutlery down, let us continue with the hotel industry’s Millennial revolution — this time over to Palm Springs, and a hotelier who knows more than most about the needs of tech-savvy travellers: Facebook’s sixth employee. Ezra Callahan left the social network in 2010, taking with him his 0.08% (valued in 2011 at $60 million), and set about masterminding a new hotel brand for the digital nomads; Arrive Hotels debuting in the Californian desert with its tech-heavy concept.
There is no check-in desk (guests can deal with all that business at the bar), hotel services are handled via text message, all staff can answer all questions — Arrive does away with all the faff that just gets in the way, meaning you focus on the good stuff. Which is: pool lounging, ping pong tables, third-wave coffee, artisanal ice cream … if you imagined what a Facebook employee might do with a hotel, this is it.
The city-living trappings of the creative class aren’t just being found in the Cali countryside, that Millennial revolution is finding its way into luxury resorts, too. Welcome to the natural beauty of Baja California Sur, its beaches, rich in marine life; its laid-back atmosphere; its art gallery, ‘fashion partnership’ with renowned designer Carla Fernandez, its collaboration with famed L.A. venue Hotel Café … welcome to Mar Adentro Hotel and Residences, a staggering new project that sees the trickle-down effect of shifting tides in the hotel industry.
Its owner, and designer, is reputed Mexican architect Miguel Ángel Aragonés, and the sleek, white building takes its cues from expansive contemporary art galleries over traditional resort hotels. In the midst of a lengthy soft-opening, a spa and high-tech shopping ‘experience’ are on the way.
We know that technology is enveloping our travel experiences, we know that lobbies can’t be lobbies without pop-up artisanal cotton candy traders and retail outlets for fiercely independent book publishers who reproduce soft focus 1950s porn in the name of art … but what about that old rarity; a hotel that seeks only to weave you into the fabric of the city it calls home? Sago Hotel, on New York’s Lower East Side, is a new opening with resolute aesthetic, resolute principals — sure, there’s a restaurant on the way, but don’t expect a member of the Mumford & Sons’ fan club to wake you up with a pour-over coffee.
The Sago is an ice cool industrial gem, a hotel that speaks volumes of the LES’s storied past, and its future. Rooms are resplendent in obstinacy, exposed cinderblock walls and steel beams; minimalist furnishings; headboards made simply from rough-and-ready oriented strand board — the views of downtown Manhattan’s gritty streets are personified. Shuffle down to nearby Katz’s Deli and bark your order for the complete Lower East Side experience.
Enjoying the industrial setting, but craving that creative class staple? A short ride on the J Line will see you at the Financial District’s most surprising opening. Among the 1% and the servants of the 1% is a pioneering coffee shop inspired by a ‘love for science and art’, by Einstein, and American astronomer Carl Sagan. Voyager Espresso fuses industrial and extraterrestrial, and seeks out seasonal fresh crop coffees from the United States’ best roasters. And you thought I was going to leave you high and dry without your caffeine fix …