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November 1, 2013

The London EDITION: ‘The Coolest Place to Stay in Town’

By Chris Boyle

london editionHe’s the hospitality legend who first brought boutique hotels to London. Fifteen years on, Ian Schrager is back in the British capital with his latest project, The London EDITION.

Located just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, The London EDITION is New York hotelier Schrager’s first return to London since he introduced the Sanderson and St. Martins Lane hotels.

The brand, conceived in a partnership with Marriott International, combines the personal, intimate, individualised and unique hotel experience that Schrager is known for, with the global reach, operational expertise and scale of Marriott.

This delicate balancing act encompasses not only great design and true innovation, but also personal, friendly, modern service as well as outstanding, one-of-a-kind food, beverage and entertainment offerings ‘all under one roof’.

The heightened experience, authenticity and originality that Schrager brings to this new brand, coupled with the global reach of Marriott, results in a truly distinct product that sets itself apart from anything else currently in the marketplace. The hotel is inspired by the grand traditions of Great Britain: the traditional, aristocratic English country manor and the quintessential London private gentleman’s club with a modern, edgy, urban feel.

Behind the refined Georgian exterior and majestic public spaces are two bars, a 24-hour fitness facility and 173 secluded, intimate and luxurious wood panelled rooms and suites akin to cabins on a private yacht.

Originally built in 1835 as five luxurious townhouses, the architecture still showing the Georgian hallmarks that characterise London’s finest residences, the buildings were combined to form the Berners Hotel in 1908, at the height of the grandeur of the Edwardian Era.  The sumptuous interiors, lavishly decorated with marble and intricate carved ceilings, are superb Grade II-listed examples of Belle Époque extravagance at its very finest.

The public spaces embody Schrager’s ‘new kind of gathering place’ and set out to astonish and seduce with an electric energy pulsating throughout: the hotel lobby is an atrium arabesqued with variegated marbles across walls, floor and corner bar, all original to the hotel and painstakingly restored, glittering below those sensational stucco ceilings.

berners tavern dining room_Berners Tavern sits to the right, a gastronomic gem under the direction of London’s own Executive Chef Jason Atherton. Furnished with banquettes in chestnut mohair and taupe leather and round, rift cut bleached oak tables, there is a Parisian feeling to this interior, entirely in line with Edwardian London’s adoration of all things French (spearheaded by Francophile King Edward).

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The ambience is enticing, and the scale is imposing – everything, from the soaring doorways to the stately gesture of the marble staircase sweeping across one corner, seems borne from another age.

Indeed, when one first enters the hotel, you are held, for a moment, in a striking modernist glass vestibule projecting into the sumptuous lobby, like a time capsule or wormhole bearing you into an otherworldly realm.

But The London EDITION is no period piece, in fact, it is impossible to date: the 21st century is subtly but insistently present in Ingo Mauer’s spaceship-like polished silver sphere light devised to preside over the entrance, the sensual Christian Liaigre black metal furniture, the Salvador Dali inspired floor lamps, and the chandeliers inspired by NYC’s Grand Central Station which are suspended over the tables in Berners Tavern.

It is a potpourri of styles that only a sure hand could pull off.  The colour palette too, juxtaposes old with new – taking inspiration from the seemingly diametrically-opposed work of Johannes Vermeer and American artist Donald Judd: dusty rose upholstery against burnt ochre walls, khaki, pale green leather and mustard velvets all contrast harmoniously, the colour animating the impressive open spaces.

The further you explore the more intimate the spaces become. Nestled at the back of the hotel is The Punch Room, a fumed-oak panelled den inspired by the comfort of English country manor house libraries and 19th-century London’s private clubs. This is their modern reincarnation: a cocktail bar without a bar, where every drink is served on a silver salver by staff dedicated to the guests, furnished custom tufted banquettes in teal velvet, overstuffed mint green leather tub chairs, and dark brown leather club chairs.

punch roomAway from the spectacular social spaces, the hotel is devoted to the personal, the private, the intimate – an individual experience of luxury and a retreat from the street.

The hotel’s rooms are panelled in either dark walnut or light oak (a choice to suit one’s own taste) subtly lit and furnished with tactile textiles, traditional tufted slipper-chairs by George Smith, a ‘no colour’ colour palette, and gilt-framed Dutch Masters.

For EDITION, the individual is key. In the words of Schrager, ‘the definition of luxury has changed: we’d rather be known for service than anything else’. This is where the expertise of the Marriott group enables EDITION to deliver superlative service, coupled with the evocative aesthetic atmospheres that have become the trademark of Ian Schrager’s hotels.

This is the new lifestyle hotel where you don’t have to sacrifice anything, whether it be fun or work, to stay in the coolest place in town.

Images by Nikolas Koenig 

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