Sharan Pasricha hasn’t been to Manhattan in three years. And it’s not the traffic keeping him away. The Ennismore (the British firm that owns The Hoxton hotels and Gleneagles, as well as upcoming flag NoCo Hospitality) founder and ceo just wanted to get completely familiar with the Williamsburg neighborhood around The Hoxton brand’s first U.S. hotel, located on the site of the former Rosenwach Water Tank Co. factory. “I wanted to get to know the local hangout spots, the culture, the vibe and the people, so we can authentically encapsulate all of this in our hotel,” says Pasricha.
OK, so plenty of lifestyle hoteliers, even rebellious ones, can say the same. Can they, though, claim to have literally “encapsulated” their locale? Pasricha and his team earned that bragging right by fronting Klein’s, the hotel’s all-day eatery, with a brick structure that mimics that of the original carriage house on the site. Two Rosenwach towers anchor Backyard, the hotel’s terrace space.
The same micro-local thinking extends to the way the team approaches its understanding of the rest of the design. Don’t be fooled by the 175-key hotel’s tight room footprints: every area in the hotel is meant to be lived in. “Even if space is limited, there are certain comforts that shouldn’t be overlooked. Storage is a good example. In Williamsburg, we have under-bed storage to put luggage away and there’s a closet rail mounted on the nightstand for clothes that need to hang up,” says Timothy Griffin, managing director, North America, Ennismore.
Unlike some of its more leisure-focused “micro-hotel” competitors, workspace is key here. Desks that fold up against the wall offer a dedicated workspace, while oversized windows and mirrors ensure enough light to see clearly day or night. “Guests should have the option not to work on the bed,” says Griffin.
In the lobby, inhouse design team Ennismore Design Studio (F&B spaces are created in collaboration with U.K. hospitality titans Soho House) decided to play with a literal spin on Brooklyn’s craze for all things vintage. “We sourced a couch from a home in the neighborhood that we had upholstered in Manhattan’s Garment District,” says Griffin. Probably not a source on most hoteliers approved lists, but then again, mass appeal isn’t Pasricha’s game.
“We came into the hospitality space to disrupt traditional hotel concepts. We want our hotels to be open, inviting anchors for the community, not one-size fits all,” he says. Williamsburg is their first newbuild, amping up the pressure on the team to create, as well as discover, the perfect storm of design factors to make a neighborhood gathering place. That kind of sensitivity still, even in the age of big data, requires time and hands-on experience.
“It’s that commitment to detail that ensures our spaces feel welcoming and fluid at any time—from our daytime coffee bar that turns into a nighttime bar, and The Apartment, which functions both as a private event space framing a kitchen and pantry and a venue for cultural programming open to guests and locals,” says Griffin. Expect to feel welcome across the U.S. very soon; the brand recently debuted in Portland, Oregon, with upcoming properties in DTLA and Chicago. Hoxmania might just be a thing.
Ennismore Design Studio: Charlie North, design director; Emma Montier, senior design management
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