Gansevoort Hotel Group co-founder Michael Achenbaum is launching a new boutique hotel and members-only concept in London designed to appeal to creative entrepreneurs.
LONDON and NEW YORK CITY—Members-only clubs have been around for years, often synonymous with dusty libraries in venerable cities, reserved only for the elite alumni of a university or other professional association.
Now the trend is exploding across the hotel scene, and hip hoteliers are finding ways to marry the best parts of boutique hotels and members-only clubs to create buzzworthy destinations for all that benefit the bottom line.
Enter The Curtain, a hotel and members-only club set to open in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood later this year. Developed by the minds behind New York’s Gansevoort Hotel Group, The Curtain will incorporate best-of food and beverage; local art, music and film collaborators; and luxury amenities into what’s being billed as “a London home for creative entrepreneurs.”
The property will be open to traditional hotel guests booking business and leisure stays in the 120 guestrooms, and also to regular members, who can take advantage of the hotel’s amenities as well as additional exclusive club, F&B and public spaces.
Hotel News Now caught up with Michael Achenbaum, owner of The Curtain and co-founder of Gansevoort Hotel Group, to talk about the company’s latest London project and what sets the concept apart. While the company currently has four Gansevoort-branded hotels open around the world—two in New York City and one each in Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic—this is its first non-Gansevoort concept, its first London property and first to include a members-only aspect.
Achenbaum said the hotel’s concept, its programming and its community are three key differentiation points.
“On the membership side, I think we’ve taken a really different approach to others in London, from the variety of spaces on offer, to the design, to the food-and-drink offering, to the service we’re providing,” he said. “We’re very much doing our own thing and there’s room in the market for us all.”
Achenbaum called the programming and amenities “unrivaled and all-encompassing,” citing a big focus on wellness—including fitness classes, private training, a gym, treatment rooms, a pool and healthy F&B options. He has also partnered with local artists, DJs and other entrepreneurs to put their spin on in-house art and lounge experiences. On the F&B side, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson will oversee the property’s F&B outlets, including its public restaurant, Red Rooster Shoreditch, and all other food and lounge concepts.
Here’s more from Achenbaum on what to expect at The Curtain when it opens later this year.
HNN: What about the members-only option do you think appeals to today’s consumers, and why do you think boutique hotels are a good fit for this model?
Achenbaum: “The hotel industry is under pressure from numerous competitors currently. Airbnb, OTAs and a general change of the outlook of millennials versus prior generations is driving the commoditization of hotel rooms. Including an element of exclusivity not only changes the perception of the hotel, but makes the types of spaces we can economically offer broader by combining concepts.
“We have a vertical outlook on our membership. Other clubs seem to rather narrowly define their membership criteria, and we believe that a broader membership pool—while maintaining a common thread of like-minded kindness and having an interesting element to their aspirations—will create a more gratifying experience, leading to new friendships and collaborations.”
HNN: The Curtain is described as “a London home for creative entrepreneurs.” What does that mean for the type of guest and member you’re attracting?
Achenbaum: “With Shoreditch being a natural hub for creatives, it was important for us to integrate a member’s club that fits with this local market. The community aspect has been a huge element to our overall vision for the property. Unlike those who might define creatives as people who act, sing, paint or write, we believe that those who help the entire process are worthy of the title of creative—not just those in a traditionally creative industry. For example, a person who is a consultant but may also be on the board of a museum can be classed as a creative.
“As far as work spaces, we are creating a specific co-working space for our hotel guests and members, in hopes that the primary social spaces will be less work-focused and more fun/sociable.”
HNN: You develop hotels in many of the world’s hottest locations. How have you seen your guests change over the years in terms of what they want from their hotel stay?
Achenbaum: “Our guests are creative, stylish, informed and culturally aware. They will always demand quality—whether that’s a pristine guestroom or a unique social experience. Ease of access to technology, more interesting design detail and a stronger focus on public areas versus hotel room experience seem to be the market direction, however, we believe that the long-term health of the product stems from including memorable guestroom details. For The Curtain, this includes custom designed artwork by Mick Rock to our sundowner trolley, whereby a bartender will arrive to mix cocktails in-room for guests between 5-7pm daily. Examples of small touches – but ones that we feel are both current and relevant to our guests.”
HNN: Can you pinpoint any challenges you’ve overcome to get this property up and running, particularly given the current climate for hotel financing and construction?
Achenbaum: “Developing in the London market has its unique challenges. Who knew that you must be insured for unexploded ordinance (due to the Second World War blitz) or might run the risk of finding ancient Roman artifacts while digging a foundation? However, Royal Bank of Scotland has been incredibly supportive of our plans and has made the endgame achievable. We are incredibly lucky to have a partnership and financing package that all truly believe The Curtain will be a permanent addition to the community.”
HNN: What are you most looking forward to with this particular property’s opening?
Achenbaum: “I’m most excited to see the reaction from our guests and members when they see the finished product. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a project I have worked tirelessly on come to life and be well-received. Alongside this, I’m personally looking forward to living in London—experiencing not only Shoreditch, but the wider capital as it continues to evolve. With a number of other hotel launches taking place throughout London, it’s an incredibly exciting time for the British capital.”