Urban hotels are frustrating, funny things. Some are beautifully designed but lack customer service. Others are ugly monstrosities with thousands of rooms but are perfectly located for food and drink. Even others have amazing lobby bars but curiously gross rooms.
I have my favorite hotels: ones I put up with and ones I can’t afford. But recently I experienced the perfect hotel: The London Edition, a masculine-but-comfortable lodging designed by Ian Schrager (cofounder of Studio 54) in a landmark Edwardian building in central London.
It’s not too big. It’s not too small. It features the best lobby bar in London. All 173 lofts and suites look different, and vary in price from about $545 to $710, or from $930 for a loft suite and much more for a one bedroom suite and terrace or penthouse. Michelin-starred Executive Chef Jason Atherton at The Edition’s Berners Tavern makes killer poached eggs for breakfast. It smells great. It’s… perfect.
Full disclosure, I was flown out from NYC to experience The Edition (as such I didn’t pay a cent—but I would have, as you’ll see). I didn’t expect too much. After all, I’ve seen my share of well-designed hotels right here in New York. But when my jaded self entered the hotel’s massive lobby, topped by a huge chrome sculpture by Ingo Maurer, something changed.
Check-in is a bit hidden down a wide hallway, as if to say that the lodgings are available but not the hotel’s only focus. I glanced at the active pool table to my left and then to the gorgeous bar beyond it, which was teeming with equally gorgeous people. I wanted to be there.
Gentlemanly hotels and hotel bars are nothing new. Dark woods and whiskey are certainly not in short supply, but The Edition’s Lobby Bar achieves the ambiance in a modern way that’s both classic and forward thinking, while leaving plenty to admire for our female better halves.
If you’re not feeling the bustle of the Lobby Bar, there’s also the Punch Room hidden in the back, past check-in, through a circular doorway. This little nook serves what they call the world’s original cocktails, bowls of alcoholic punch speckled with everything from blackberry foam to orange flower water. The results are nice diversions from the everyday, much like the rest of the establishment. See below for a few recipes, courtesy of the people at The Edition.
Upon my arrival, I was led to my wood-paneled standard suite, which smelled of sandalwood and fresh laundry. A built-in desk with just about every plug offered a sense of business security, but it wasn’t forced on me. A king-sized bed with a fur throw was inviting without that cloying too-many-pillows hotel thing that seems to be threatening slumber worldwide. A long, white-tiled bathroom with a walk-in shower was both spotless and functional, but not cookie-cutter. A candle burning some sort of Le Labo black tea essence (they won’t tell me exactly what it is, but one can buy the candle at the hotel) leaves the room smelling both masculine and feminine without being overpowering. It’s really a feat given all the variables that go into hotel rooms.
Again, I wanted to be there.
The London Edition’s location isn’t shabby either: It’s a short walk to Soho, Carnaby Street and Oxford Street. That’s about as good as it gets for a city that’s walkable but spread out.
Trust me, this is one of the best places you’ll find in London. Finally, an urban hotel done right.
Photos by Nikolas Koenig