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Hotel check: Edition, London

Published: 10/12/2013 - Filed under: News » Tried & Tested » Hotels » Tried & Tested » Tried & Tested » Hotels » UK / British Isles »

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BACKGROUND

The Edition brand was created by Ian Schrager (American entrepreneur, boutique hotelier and co-founder of famed New York nightclub Studio 54) in partnership with Marriott International.

The inaugural hotel opened in Waikiki in 2010 but changed management companies a year later and was rebranded as the Modern Honolulu. The Edition Istanbul opened in 2011, with London following in September 2013.

Editions in the pipeline include Miami for 2014, New York, Abu Dhabi, Gurgaon and Sanya in 2015, and Bangkok and Shanghai in 2016.   

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The 19th-century building originally comprised five grand townhouses, before becoming the Berners hotel in 1909. (As a consequence, it is a mixture of Georgian and Edwardian styles of architecture.) The Berners closed its doors 97 years later, unloved, crumbling and nicotine stained. Marriott bought the property in 2010 and went about restoring it at a cost of £33 million.

There are now two street-level entrances to the property – one for the magnificent Berners Tavern restaurant, the other to the lobby. There is a buzz about the place – it’s hip without being pretentious, hot without being alienating.

Both the lobby and restaurant are vast spaces with dramatic high ceilings decorated in creamy Belle Epoque stucco, while the golden lighting, roaring log fires and abundant artworks make them feel warm and inviting. En route to the reception desks are green velvet couches and wingback chairs, an antique billiards table and a bar set against a backdrop of distressed mirrors and pink-veined marble.

© Nikolas Koenig

All this imposing opulence is contrasted effectively with quirky modern features. Look up and you will spot a giant stainless-steel egg hanging from the ceiling.

Created by German industrial designer Ingo Maurer, the light fitting is complemented by a reproduction of a Louis XV Gobelins tapestry behind check-in, along with walnut weatherboarding on the walls by the lifts, and a luminous installation called Portal by Korean artist Chul Hyun Ahn at the far end, which sees a pink/turquoise circle of light reflected back into an infinite tunnel.

© Nikolas Koenig

In the public spaces and guestrooms, visitors will also find contemporary interpretations of 17th-century Dutch portraits such as those by Vermeer.

The photographs, framed in heavy gilt, are by Hendrik Kerstens and at first appear to be prints of paintings from the past. But on closer inspection they are of girls with plastic bags on their heads, or toilet roll looped around to look like a bonnet.

They sit nicely in their surroundings – be it in the decadence of the public areas or the minimalist, après-ski chic of the bedrooms.

WHERE IS IT? 

On Berners Street, just off Oxford Street in Fitzrovia. It’s a two-minute walk to both Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street Tube stations, and 15 minutes to Charing Cross station.

ROOM FACILITIES

The bedrooms are refined and minimalist. Taking inspiration from Scandinavian design and ski lodges, the walls are panelled floor-to-ceiling in walnut, the floors parquet and the beds draped in soft faux-fur throws.

There are George Smith tufted lounge chairs, pale cashmere blankets, and a “no colour” palette of fawn, caramel, cream and white.

© Nikolas Koenig

Bathrooms are not marble – instead they are decked out in pale mosaic tiles and frosted glass doors to the toilet and shower. (I noticed my bathroom could have benefitted from under-floor heating as the tiles were freezing on bare feet. Luckily slippers were provided.)

Le Labo toiletries are Edition-branded in slender black bottles. My spacious bathroom had a long, white Grohe sink and freestanding tub, in addition to a walk-in rainshower.

Beds are incredibly comfortable and made up with custom imported linens, while either side are plug sockets and free-hanging globe lamps that are made from plastic but look like glowing alabaster.

Each room also comes with iPod docks, free water, wifi and a choice of daily newspapers, a well-stocked minibar with drinks and gourmet snacks, and a 46-inch Samsung HD television with movies on-demand. However, when I stayed the picture on my TV was a little pixelated and the sound kept slowing down and speeding up in a weird way.

Standard category Guest rooms are 22 sqm, Superior are 28 sqm, Deluxe are 33 sqm and Lofts are 40 sqm, while suites range from 48 sqm to 195 sqm. Generally, the décor and facilities remain the same across each, although my Loft room also came with a living area with a couch and a coffee table with a couple of art books. I also came across copies of Vogue, GQ, The Gourmand and Surface magazine.

There was a good-size walnut workdesk and wardrobe, inside of which was an umbrella, shoehorn, clothes brush, safe, hairdryer and iron/ironing board. In my corridor I also found a full-length mirror, which was handy.

My eastern-facing Loft got the sun in the morning so I was glad of the blackout blinds that could be pulled down. The views were of neighbouring offices and rooftops.

The only thing that was lacking was a pen (pencils are provided instead for writing notes), but other than that I loved the room and had a very comfortable stay. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The Lobby bar is a classy place to pause for a coffee in the day or cocktail in the evening, with couches and armchairs by the fire, and sit-up stools for if you want to watch the moustached bartenders at work.

It's fairly pricey, with drinks costing about £12.50, but the Davide Segat menu of concoctions is worth sampling. (I tried the Smashing Pear of Melons with Altos Blanco tequila, pear liquor, lemon juice, watermelon, basil and borage.)

If you make a reservation in advance, you can experience the Punch room, to the left, past the reception desks. It feels like a cosy private members club and has its own bar specialising in gin-infused vintage punch, ladled out of a silver bowl into delicate glassware. Overhead plays old-school ragtime, doo-wop, soul or ska music, and there are sometimes live performances too.

© Nikolas Koenig

Downstairs is the Basement nightclub, one of the most exclusive, trendy new hangouts in town. Open Thursday to Sunday, you will need to get yourself on the guestlist if you want to get in, or apply online (basementldn.com) for membership.

The Young Turks record label hosts a regular night on Sundays, with DJs such as Romy from The xx performing, while signature Cherry Bombs and alcoholic slushies are served behind the bar.

At 2230, I had dinner at Berners Tavern (bernerstavern.com), the Edition’s much-talked-about restaurant from Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton, and a true destination in itself.

The interior made me think of the Palace of Versailles meets over-the-top art gallery, as the walls are festooned with 185 eclectic, closely packed paintings and prints in elaborate gold frames, while the ceiling and upper sections of the walls are a sculpted mass of shells, leaves and drapery. There are also two impressive light fixtures – bronze cages encrusted with bulbs.

© Nikolas Koenig

For a glamorous, high-end eatery it is surprisingly relaxed – the service is attentive but not overbearing, the staff are friendly but not obsequious, and the bleached oak tables are not hidden under formal white cloths.

People sit in low semi-circle booths or long banquettes upholstered in taupe leather, and there are seven or so tables by the bar that are always left free for walk-ins. Diners can also eat at the zinc-topped bar itself, gazing on to a stunning, ceiling-high, amber lit display of glittering bottles.

The food is generously portioned, filling and delicious, while the cocktails are inventive and the winelist inspiring. I found the experience difficult to fault – it’s an excellent place to meet clients or indulge with friends.  

The menu does a good range of dishes using British ingredients, from seafood and oysters, to sandwiches and steaks. But there are also some European and Middle Eastern influences.

Other mains include pappardelle with Scottish game ragout, Pecorino and crispy capers, and rack of Romney Marsh lamb with spiced aubergine and apricot cous cous. Berners does a Fish Friday Lunch and Sunday Roast, along with items to share such as whole baby line-caught bass with fennel and lemon stuffing.

I began with a two-inch thick slice of iceberg lettuce topped with avocado, Shropshire blue and garlic yogurt (£8). It was packed with flavour, zingy and moreish. I then moved on to a creamy macaroni and cauliflower cheese (£16.50) with a side order of braised Brussels sprouts and chestnuts (a nod to Christmas) that were exceedingly tasty (and I don’t normally like them).

I couldn’t manage dessert, but tempting options include the chocolate filled donut with cinnamon sugar and almond sorbet (£7), and the Cereal Killer cocktail made with Havana Club rum, white chocolate, coffee liqueur, chocolate bitters and Coco Pops milk (£12.50). This comes served in a mini glass milk carton with a red and white-striped straw in it. (Fun but not very grown up, of course.)

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

There is a stylish work area in the corner of the lobby with a large, chunky wooden communal table and chairs, and three Mac computers. Wifi is free throughout the entire hotel.

Up the marble staircase is a mezzanine balcony that can be used for intimate drinks receptions, while leading off it are two Studios dedicated to meetings of up to 12 delegates in one, and 60 in the other.

On the far side of the restaurant is a set of spiral steps leading to a 14-seat private dining room beneath a glass skylight. The 195 sqm top-floor Penthouse, complete with a wrap-around terrace, can also be hired for private parties and product launches – as can the Basement, which holds 200 people.

LEISURE FACILITIES

There is a 24-hour gym in the basement with some natural light, Life Fitness machines, a Kinesis machine, free weights and medicine balls. It looks bare though and the lighting is harsh. There is no pool or spa.

VERDICT

A stylish new luxury London hotel that is hip and happening, but also well set up for business travellers – you can earn and redeem Marriott Rewards points and there is free wifi. The Edition features a must-try restaurant, top-class service and impressive interior design.
 

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 173 across eight categories – Guest rooms, Superior, Deluxe, Loft, Loft suites, One-Bedroom suites, One-Bedroom suites with terrace and Penthouse.
  • HIGHLIGHTS Free wifi, minimalist Scandi design in rooms, the opulent Berners Tavern that serves excellent food and impressive lobby.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in January started from £270 for a Guest room.
  • CONTACT 10 Berners Street; tel +44 (0)20 7781 0000; edition-hotels.marriott.com


Jenny Southan

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COMMENTS » 

Discovery-Bay - 10/12/2013 18:47

Your article mentions the inaugural hotel as the Edition Istanbul opening in 2011.
This is not entirely correct. The Waikiki Edition in Honolulu opened in late 2010.
It closed and was reopened as the Modern.

JennySouthan - 11/12/2013 11:25

Thanks Discovery-Bay. This slipped my mind. The copy has now been amended.

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