The Curtain opens
One of the United States’ most successful hoteliers, who has built a reputation for luxurious ventures in innovative locations, has made a first foray into Europe with the opening of his hotel and private members club combination that is sure getting noticed.
Located in the trendy London district of Shoreditch, The Curtain is the brainchild of Michael Achenbaum of Gansevoort Hotel Group. Across its seven above ground storeys it boasts 120 guest rooms, a rooftop pool and lounge, a 24-hour fitness centre, treatment rooms, flexible working spaces and approximately 6,000 square feet of event space including a ballroom and screening room. Acclaimed chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson has also brought his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster across the pond.
In addition, The Curtain houses a private members club with a bar, live performance space and lounge area on three basement floors. The striking red brick structure was purpose built on the site of a building that had fallen into disrepair but, thanks to its careful and considered design, fits into the surrounding urban area.
London-based architecture firm Dexter Moren Associates worked on the design of the hotel and its internal layout. Zoe Tallon, Senior Architect at the firm, spoke to Premier Hospitality ahead of the opening, to discuss the importance of making the new build element look like an established part of the landscape. She said:
“The client bought the site with planning permission already agreed so our brief was to take their brand and redesign the internal layout to make it work for them. We also looked at the building from the outside and redesigned the façade and key windows to help create the feeling of an original warehouse building.
“The site was originally a 1970s built office building that had become derelict. It was knocked down and a new building was constructed on the site. I think what’s nice about the structure is that from the outside it doesn’t look too big or imposing. It also fits in with a Shoreditch, warehouse style aesthetic.
“One of the more challenging aspects of the project was the sheer number of events spaces, bars and restaurants. The bars, for example, are dotted around the hotel from top to bottom. It was important that all these elements work together. As the client is predominantly US based, we were also able to guide them through elements like UK planning regulations.”
“For us this has been such an exciting project working with an exciting client. This is their first hotel outside of the US so they’re really passionate about it. They want the Curtain to be something special and memorable so we’re proud to be involved in that and help them launch the brand in Europe.”
Moving into the hotel, guests are greeted by a striking yet sophisticated design that takes a large amount of inspiration from the surrounding Shoreditch landscape. Luxury oozes from every facet of The Curtain to create a distinct experience for both guests and members. Design Duncan Miller Ullmann, an interior design firm based in Dallas, Texas, were responsible for crafting the entire internal look.
Creative Director at the company and Lead Designer on the project, Chris Michero spoke to Premier Hospitality about The Curtain’s design concept:
“With regards to the original brief, we knew that Michael wanted to create a hotel and members club that was something that hadn’t been seen before, but apart from that we were given free license to run with it. As a result we were able to keep the original design direction we presented during conception which is remarkable and pretty rare in this industry. Usually it’s through value engineering, programme changes, etc., that cause edits to the initial ‘big ideas’ but Michael was very thoughtful to make sure that didn’t happen here and it’s evident throughout the entire hotel.
“We really wanted to take inspiration from the Shoreditch community. We know that the area is one where artists and musicians can meet businessmen and restauranteurs and that these elements blend to create a strong bohemian vibe. We’ve created a sense of whimsy that gives guests a memorable experience by combining luxury materials and amenities with a vivid and creative display in production.
“When you first enter the hotel and arrive in the lobby it’s a very grand experience with a beautiful gold and silver palette and bold mylar wall coverings in a tapestry pattern. There are also big, silver stag busts that are blindfolded on a mirror overlooking the double-height space and a gorgeous multi-coloured crystal chandelier. The flooring is chevron patterned porcelain.”
Guest rooms give a nod to the industrial heritage of Shoreditch with exposed brickwork above the headboards, black-framed factory windows and hand scraped wood flooring. Green Chesterfield sofas and settees add balance alongside custom-designed artwork. Bathrooms feature black and white tiles and heated flooring with enclosed showers that can act as a personal steam room.
The Curtain is much more than just a run of the mill hotel though. The below-ground members club is housed on three levels, can be accessed via a VIP entrance and is made up of a number of unique spaces. The ‘Imperial Room’, for example, is inspired by the classic English garden and serves breakfast.
Billy’s Bar, a whiskey bar named in honour of Michael Achenbaum’s father Bill, has a more intimate atmosphere with traditional wood panelling and pinstriped walls. A number of well-known acts are already scheduled to appear in LP, the members only live performance space. Applications for membership to the club are currently being accepted.
Reflecting on the significance of the project for Design Duncan Miller Ullmann, Chris Michero commented:
“We’re a global firm with offices in Delhi and Shanghai but this was our first property in Europe. Personally I had to do a lot of research to find local sources because we wanted it to be a property that stayed true to its roots. It was a labour of love at first but I now have some fantastic sources in the UK and surrounding areas. Our eyes have been opened to a whole new avenue of products.
“This has been such an inspiring experience because we were given the freedom to think out of the box and be innovative with our design aesthetic. We’ve been able to blend the modern demands of guests with a beautiful layer of art and fashion. I don’t think this has been done before in London or further afield and it encapsulates a creative luxury brand in a whimsical, welcoming manner.
“There is a great balance that the hotel and members club have achieved, making the spaces feel like your favourite neighbourhood haunt but also providing a level of detail and amenities that seasoned travellers have come to expect.”
The main food offering at The Curtain is a significant one as Marcus Samuelsson brings his Red Rooster restaurant to Shoreditch. One of the most anticipated culinary openings in London so far this year; Red Rooster Shoreditch celebrates classic American comfort food. It serves a mixture of dishes made famous at the original Harlem venue and brand new creations developed specially for the capital. Alongside the restaurant is an all-day taqueria and bar called Tienda Roosteria.
For more information on The Curtain, please visit www.thecurtain.com.
Penguin Swimming Pools Ltd
Specialising in the design, supply and installation of swimming pools, health suites and associated works, Penguin Swimming Pools Ltd has been in operation for over 25 years.
From conception to completion, Penguin Swimming Pools are nationwide builders of superior quality pools, committed to guiding clients every step of the way.
New innovations such as moving floors, booms to separate indoor and outdoor pools, fibre optic lighting and different types of materials used to line swimming pools, give the establishment the leading edge in its field.
The company delivers a variety of developments working with a range of clients, providing and maintaining swimming pools of various forms. Working on the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch was one of Penguin Swimming Pools’ recent projects.
A spokesperson from Penguin Swimming Pools told Premier Hospitality:
“Penguin Swimming Pools built the pool at Old Street for the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch. This was a prestigious project for McAleer and Rushe.
“As a company we pride ourselves on our knowledge, expertise and commitment; each project is treated on an individual basis.”