The Cofounder of Studio 54 Returns to California With a New Sunset Strip Hotel
There are few names in hospitality that carry as much renown and legacy as Ian Schrager, who is often credited with originating the boutique hotel concept when he launched Morgans Hotel Group in the 1980s, which eventually led to the 1996 opening of the Mondrian Hotel right here on Sunset Boulevard.
Two decades later, Edition, Schrager’s collaboration with Marriott International, has become one of the glitziest brands in the industry. Despite its relatively new-kid-on-the-block status, Edition has been luring discerning travelers to sexy properties in cities like London, Miami Beach, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi—no doubt thanks to that Schrager magic.
The latest unveiling on the fabled Sunset Strip is the brand’s 10th and first on the American West Coast.
“I thought this was the perfect time to do a hotel in Los Angeles [when it’s become] such a vibrant, world-class 24-hour gateway city,” says Schrager. But for all its history as a pop-culture point of reference (most notably in the 1960s and 1970s), the Strip today is only just growing into the luxury scene, especially compared with neighboring Beverly Hills. And so when Schrager found this piece of vacant land right on Sunset Boulevard, he saw a can’t-miss opportunity.
“Many people tried to make it work but couldn’t. I’m in an opportunistic business, and I respond to the opportunities,” he says of the land that the West Hollywood Edition now occupies. “We saw it, and we saw something different. We saw the first luxury hotel in West Hollywood. The numbers worked, and we aggressively went after it.”
Those arriving at the West Hollywood Edition for the first time will see how the hotel sits in stark contrast to its locale. Schrager is right: There’s nothing in the immediate surroundings that offers the same promise of luxury. The minimalist building—brought to life by British architect John Pawson—feels like a refuge from the often hectic buzz of Sunset Boulevard thanks to the soothing natural splendor of the travertine stone and dark wood screens that cloak the exterior. The driveway is potted with 56 species of lush foliage (from olive and Aleppo pine to camphor and ficus) to further create a sense of idyll around the hotel.
This design choice also highlights one of Los Angeles’ most defining features: the nature that surrounds the city. “The idea was to do a hotel that captures the spirit of L.A.,” Schrager says. “That the hotel can’t be in any other place. That is what makes it special and unique.”
Inside, details that a traveler might expect from a glamorous Hollywood hangout prevail, especially in the lobby, which impresses with an overwhelming amount of space. A triple-height ceiling is punctuated by Los Angeles artist Sterling Ruby’s Instagram-ready installation The Scale. All around, well-heeled guests and locals hold meetings over drinks from the gorgeous wall-to-wall bar or play a round of pool. The check-in desk lies discreetly beyond the action as a bustling social vignette is certainly more vital when creating a first impression.
The 190 rooms and suites (starting at $395 a night for a standard king while the hotel is in its opening phase) are similarly pared down. Beige and white dominate the color palette, suffusing each room with a powerful sense of serenity. The contemporary blond-wood furniture, a low-lying bed, a fuzzy-soft blanket, and subtle vintage-looking area rugs are all simple yet stylish—nothing is fussy or unnecessary.
But there are plenty of thrilling surprises, especially in the bathrooms where the rain forest shower stalls and stand-alone bathtubs are massive and indulgent. The fragrant custom-created Le Labo amenities are waiting to be used or stuffed into suitcases and taken home. “I love the respite and the refuge that the rooms offer,” Schrager notes. “They’re very calming and sophisticated.”
But as a Schrager project, the Edition has to be more than just a fashionable address to plug into Uber when it’s time to head home from a Hollywood party. After all, as the hotelier puts it, “people who go to a hotel want to go to places that the people in the know of that city go to.”
It’s no surprise then that this Edition’s inventory of public venues is already high on the list of must-sees for local and visiting PYTs (pretty young things). There’s a modern spa offering massages and facials that orbit around hip beauty brands. The rooftop pool and bar are buzzy for both the vibe and panoramic views of the city. There’s a basement-level club luring in guest DJs.
And Los Angeles–native chef John Fraser (of Michelin-starred New York City kitchens Nix and Dovetail) has returned home to oversee the food and beverage program, including the veggie-forward menu, at Ardor, the ground-floor all-day restaurant. Inside the Eden-like dining room, expect tandoori cauliflower, tuna tartare lettuce wraps, and an addictive plate of pillowy milk bread that should begin every meal.
For Schrager, all of the above are an indelible part of his vision for the Edition brand. From the service and the design to the food and the art, nothing is surplus to requirements, because “quite simply, Edition is the next generation of the luxury hotel,” he says. “Where you don’t have to sacrifice anything to stay at the coolest place in town.”
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