Editorial: Urban Hang Suite - Publication: Ego Magazine - Date: June 2000

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With an accent on character and individuality, boutique hotels are the new millenium’s stylized solution to the discerning (or cashed up)travelling person’s accommodation needs. Whether its New York’s Mercer Hotel or LA’s Avalon, America’s booming boutique hotel sector has much to offer - from service and staff through to architecture and design.

Today’s boutique hotels offer a refreshing departure from impersonal, chain styled hotels, replacing a sterile, corporate dynamic with chic interiors and specialized services that make a stay away more like a homecoming.

Bigger than the average house, though smaller than average motel - boutique hotels are generally under 100 rooms, capturing heightened intimacy and style. What else defines a boutique hotel (or at least a good one?). They’re small, independent, and well-staffed, with upscale, high-end, and ample amenities throughout.

Boutique hotels can be "creative" venues, sometimes fashioned out of the mold of a bed-and-breakfast, but typically they are older, European-style design hotels with ornate rooms, special services, plus more and greater amenities, ideal for upscale, high-end small meetings. Ultimately this new generation of hotels is hopefully part of a master plan to elevate America’s accommodation facilities with a refreshing alternative to the iconic corporate monoliths.

Avalon Hotel
Designed in the 50’s,when it was first known as the Beverly Carlton, the now ultra stylish, Jetsons cum latter day minimalist Avalon is renowned for its glamorous clientele, having been a home for Marilyn Monroe and Mae West, in the '50s. As if that’s not enough to pack them in. The Avalon’s informal, though sophisticated service, '50s retro visage and homey setting are juxtaposed with exotic Asian accents (such as decorative bamboo stalks) and sleek seating keep the place distinctly modern. Fans of classic mid-century design will appreciate the George Nelson bubble lamps and the clean lines of Noguchi glass-topped tables. Overall, intimacy is the key word when it comes to the Avalon. Opt for a sleek table for two, sloth on a comfy couch or even retreat cocktail in hand pool side and watch the steam rise, but please do ask for a towel first before disrobing.

Mondrian Hotel
A collaboration between New York hotelier Ian Schrager and French designer Philippe Starck this stylish establishment sees a nice blend of simple elegance, comfort and post-modern wit culminating in a slick, cool atmosphere. The ever popular Skybar, with stunning views of LA is truly the venue’s epicenter-though very difficult to gain entry to. TheMondrian’s lobby also has a party-like atmosphere and is a little less fascist with its door policy. The Pool’s non-chlorinated water in the pool is flush with the deck, creating a fun visual. Indoors, artist James Turrell has created original light installations, using televisions as his medium.

Casa del Mar, Santa Monica
Embodying old world ambience and charm, the original property housing the 129 room hotel was a beach club that ran from 1926 and reigned for decades as one of the most opulent clubs on the coast. Restored at a cost of $60 million, the current day Casa Del Mar opened in October 99. Amenities include a Mediterranean garden deck with plunge pool and jacuzzi, spa, healthclub and the option of oceanview or poolside dining. The hotel’s 75 seat dining restaurant serves a highly palatable angle of California cuisine by Chef Andrew DeGroot, formerly of Pastis.

Shutters, Santa Monica
Nestling iconic Venice Beach, Shutters in majestic Santa Monica offers 198 rooms furnished with all th bells and whistles you’ll need for a decent night’s sleep or a partial lie down. Decor is excellent, and dining magnificant, with the choice of two dining areas, one a café styled area at beach level, the other a more salubrious and stylish dining room. Guest rooms evoke a sense of comfortable luxury that one might experience in a magnificent, yet unpretentious, beach home. Featuring the finest in appointments and furnishings, the rooms are configured to yield views of the panoramic coastline and Pacific Ocean.

Sunset Marquis Whisky Bar, West Hollywood
An ideal place to entertain your rockstar fantasies, the Sunset is virtually rock and roll utopia, complete with a fifty plus room hotel, spartan and very sceney bar, Keith Richards designed gymnasium and recording studios. Arguably America’s first boutique styled hotel (at least by default in that it is small and specialized) the Sunset Marquis is more cocaine and leather trousers than business suits and brainstorming. Yet if its good enough for U2, the Stones and the boatloads of other rockers who have done everything from jog in its halls to pass out in its bar, its definitely worth a visit.Continued on Next Page

Maison 140
As the name suggests, Maison 140, the former Beverly House Hotel strives to be all things French. Built in 1949, the 46-room hotel was once owned by Lillian Gish. Having since undergone a $2.3 million facelift, it carries the French theme well, from its crystal chandeliers, through to its impressive wine list. Developed by property owner Elkor Realty with added touches by Kelly Wearstler Interior Design, many of the hotel’s furnishings, both antiques and custom pieces are from Paris. Despite having no restaurant, swimming facilities or common suites the Maison 140 is still a nice place to stay, redeeming itself with unparalleled charm and ambience.

Mercer Hotel, NYC
More than just a pricey bar on Mercer Street, the hotel is widely known for its restaurant, the Mercer Kitchen. Other facilities include the Cellar Lounge, laundry and dry cleaning, shoeshine, valet and secretarial services, audiovisual equipment, foreign currency exchange, car, limousine and courier services and complimentary access to the nearby David Barton Gym. The Mercer’s 75 guest rooms have long entrance hallways that lead into loft-like living spaces. Huge bathrooms average 90 square feet and feature king-sized tubs. Most of the exclusively-designed furniture is made from dark African woods, while bedding includes linen comforters and down pillows. In-room amenities include minibars with Dean & DeLuca specialties, bath products by FACE Stockholm, Web TV with Internet access, complimentary newspapers, cable TV, VCR and CD player.

Written by Craig Stephens

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