FX Hotel Focus: Ian Schrager

The father of the boutique hotel concept tells us about Editions, the latest chapter

Words by: Ian Schrager
Edited by: Francis Pearce

Despite only being open for two years, Studio 54 in New York became one of the most well-known clubs in the world. But when we sold it in 1980, Steve Rubell and I were given promissory notes that the owner couldn’t pay, so we traded them for a hotel he owned, and enlisted the interior design expertise of Andrée Putman to instil it with a timeless, tasteful ambience. Morgans opened in 1984, but its design remains as compelling and relevant as it was then. I went to a European because I wanted a new aesthetic that was also classic, old-fashioned good taste.

New York Edition hotel, deluxe room. Editionsmark the next chapter of Ian Schrager’s boutique hotel story. Image by: Nikolas KoeningNew York Edition hotel, deluxe room. Editions mark the next chapter of Ian Schrager’s boutique hotel story. Image by: Nikolas Koening

We went on to open hotels that embodied the concept of the ‘hotel as lifestyle’, including the Royalton and Paramount hotels in New York; the Delano in Miami; the Mondrian in West Hollywood; the Clift in San Francisco, and the St Martins Lane and Sanderson hotels in London. We sold the Morgans Group in 2005 and formed the Ian Schrager Company, which develops and operates hotels and luxury residences around the world. Today, we are collaborating with Marriott International to develop up to 100 boutique Edition Hotels.

Ian Schrager. Image by: Nikolas KoeningIan Schrager. Image by: Nikolas Koening

Having gone though my Philippe Starck years – with the one-line jokes and tricks and irony, I find myself going back to the approach I had at Morgans. If something is really well done, it’s the antithesis of trendy. It may be provocative, it may be out there on the edge, but if it’s well done it will stand the test of time, and be just as relevant in 30 or 40 years. Edition Hotels marks the next chapter in the boutique hotel story. Edition Hotels have opened in London, Istanbul, Miami, and New York. Plans are in place to open locations in Sanya, Bangkok, Gurgaon, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Wuhan, Times Square, West Hollywood, and Bali.

Entrance to the Clocktower restaurant at Edition New York. Image by: Nikolas KoeningIan Schrager. Image by: Nikolas Koening

The concept reflects changing lifestyles and growing demand for a unique experience, not merely a place to sleep. Boutique hotels stand out from typical hotels not only in the unique themes, styles and designs that they incorporate but also in reflecting the increasingly refined desires of global travellers. Marriott and we have a new vision and plan to radically rethink and catapult the boutique/lifestyle category hotel into the present by capturing the spirit of the times. People today are sophisticated and they understand good design, quality, originality and commitment to excellence. They will not accept something derivative, and they want the ethos and soul of a hotel to be authentic and have character.

Image by: Nikolas Koening
Image by: Nikolas Koening

They also expect and deserve impeccable, modern and gracious personalised services that are at the same time luxurious yet down to earth. It is the ultimate balancing act of these apparent contradictions to create a hotel that is simultaneously specific and customised yet universal. The brand’s unifying aesthetic is in its approach and attitude to the modern lifestyle rather than its appearance, with design and architecture derived from the scale, location and feel of the individual properties. Sophisticated public spaces, finishes, design and details serve the experience, not drive it.

Image by: Nikolas Koening

The buildings that are being created by world-renowned architects and designers are each one of a kind. For example, Kengo Kuma has been appointed as the lead interior designer for the MahaNakhon in Bangkok, scheduled to open this year along with residences in the tower. As with all hotels under the Edition brand – and boutique hotels in general – the Edition Bangkok will be an upscale reflection of its unique location. As the tallest tower in the country, and one that features a radically original form, there couldn’t have been a better home for the latest instalment in the boutique hotel phenomenon.


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