Ian Schrager is a man who requires little introduction. A firm fixture on the contemporary hospitality scene for over three decades, the charismatic New Yorker can be credited with spearheading the boutique hotel sector by introducing his now trademark social lobbies in lodgings from the Royalton to Miami’s iconic Delano. This month sees Schrager opening the doors of his newest project in the capital, 15 years since his first foray in London’s West End.
Located just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, The London Edition is the second offering from Schrager’s new pairing with Marriott International (following the Istanbul Edition) and is housed within the grand confines of the old Berners Street Hotel. ‘15 years ago, I used to walk past this building every day and I always dreamed about building a hotel here that was special,’ says Schrager.
A one-time home to 20th century luminaries such as King Edward VII and Russian jeweller, Carl Fabergé, the property dates back to 1835 and many of its extravagant original details have been meticulously restored by the Ian Schrager Company Design Studio and New York-based firm Yabu Pushelberg. The hotel's sophisticated interiors, in warming palettes of dusty rose, khaki and mustard tones, are elegantly furnished with eclectic pieces inspired by Salvador Dali and American artist Donald Judd.
The restaurant, run by the Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, is dominated by two giant bronze chandeliers and an eccentric floor-to-ceiling mishmash of photographic portraits, landscapes and still-lifes. The 173 wood-panelled rooms feature original artworks and the penthouse suite offers 360-degree views. There is also a cosy den-like cocktail bar called the Punch Room and, in a nod to Schrager’s seminal Studio 54, a hermetically sealed dance club in the basement will feature lighting designed by celebrated specialist Patrick Woodroffe. ‘It’s like dancing in a recording studio or on a film’s sound stage where the dancers are the performers,’ says Schrager.
In typical Schrager-style, it is of course, the lobby that is the true centrepiece. Focusing on work as well as play, the area boasts a Judd-inspired black walnut table fitted with desktop computers, a bar and an antique billiard table - all presided over by a dramatic Ingo Maurer polished silver sphere light.
Schrager, it seems, is once again upping the game. ‘About 15 to 20 years ago in London, I had the market almost to myself,' he says. 'Now there are other options out there. It kind of invigorates me - it makes it more special. I’m not ready to give up the [hotel king] title yet'.