HD Talks

London Calling!

Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Events

I can’t believe it has been a month since I headed to London for the Sleep Event (where does time go?). UBM, the organizers of the annual tradeshow and conference, invited us to organize and moderate a panel, and I jumped on the opportunity—in previous years the event fell on Thanksgiving and was less appealing to miss my favorite holiday of the year.

And it was a good year to attend: it was a record year in terms of attendance for Sleep, and they brought in an impressive lineup of speakers.

A packed house listened to keynoter iconic hotelier Ian Schrager (which was fitting after we just honored him the week before with our lifetime achievement Platinum Circle Award), who in a candid talk with journalist Guy Dittrich, touched on his move away from design for design’s sake, how he takes inspiration from almost everywhere (he called himself a sponge), his interesting and varied career, and his newest venture sure to become his next great legacy, Public and Edition hotels, the latter a unique partnership with Marriott (see below).

The second day keynoter was Brad Wilson, CEO of Ace Hotels, who filled in after the tragic death of Ace founder Alex Calderwood (a terrible loss for our industry as he was a true visionary). Brad, not only a colleague but a longtime friend of Calderwood’s, did an amazing job of honoring the entrepreneur many credit with more recently changing the hotel landscape with locally rooted, experiential places (he did make hanging out in a hotel lobby cool again) while giving the audience insight into the makeup and future of the company and its newest opening, the Ace Shoreditch.

Taking the opportunity to see the newest and greatest that London had to offer, I stayed at Schrager’s London Edition, designed by Yabu Pushelberg. I have to admit, I was wowed by the public spaces from the moment I walked in—they are dramatic and elegant, inviting and grand, all at the same time.

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I was also lucky enough to tour the CitizenM and Corinthia with Chelsea Hershelman from Benjamin West and Helen Jorgensen from Host Hotels. We have covered both properties, but nothing is like seeing them in person. The CitizenM is one of the latest entrants into the affordable luxury category: public spaces that encourage lingering paired with pod-like guestrooms. A few of my favorite aspects of the Concrete-designed hotel: cool artwork throughout (fitting as the hotel is located near the Tate), meeting spaces sponsored by Post-It, and instead of placing irons in each room, there’s an ironing room on each floor.

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We ended the day at the luxurious Corinthia. From the flowers at the entrance to the transformative ESPA spa, no attention to detail was spared by GA Design International. And it was especially heartwarming to see a few of the late David Collins’ masterfully designed restaurants. Yet the holiday treat: seeing one of the over-the-top suites, which we decided we are definitely booking as soon as we win the lottery.

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