“Luxury is a state of mind: It’s how
[something] makes you feel,” says
Ian Schrager, the nightlife impresario turned hotelier, who is frequently credited (often by himself)
for inventing the boutique hotel.
His latest property, Public, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has all
the trappings of a high-end hotel,
from the minimalist, light-filled
architecture of the Pritzker Prize–
winning firm Herzog & de Meuron
to the restaurants from celebrity
chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
But the price of a guest room? Starting at about $200 a night.
Hotel brands have been trying—and failing—to hit the sweet
spot of “affordable luxury” for the
past decade, especially in cities like
New York, where the average room
went for more than $250 a night
last year, according to travel consultancy STR. Most brands end up
either scrimping on public spaces
or settling for decor that looks like
it was assembled using Allen keys.
The 367-room Public, which
Schrager developed after launching
his high-end Edition brand with
Marriott in 2008, mines some of the
best ideas from the tech, retail, and
design industries to create a more
streamlined model for hospitality.
costs at New York’s
Public hotel by
getting “rid of those
notions of luxury
that my parents
liked and I used to
like,” he says.
Ian Schrager’s new
Public hotel brand is
hospitality for a budget
By Diana Budds
Photographs by Chris Schoonover
Next Closer Look
“[He’s] ignoring the traditional defi-
nition of a luxury experience,” says
Bjorn Hanson, a New York University
professor at the Jonathan M. Tisch
Center for Hospitality and Tour-
ism. Instead of offering guests bell-
hops and room service, the hotel is
“edited and focused on the things
that people like and care about,”
says Schrager. Those priorities in-
clude efficiency, convenience, local
flavor, and value—beautifully pack-
aged in a $300 million building.
Though Public is poised to compete with boutique hotels, Schrager
also sees the brand, which he plans
to expand to gateway cities such as
London and Las Vegas, as a response
to the “mortal threat” that Airbnb
poses to the hospitality business.
Here’s his formula for building a
new breed of hotel.