Step inside the lobby of the London EDITION hotel and it’s easy to see why it was a favored social venue among London’s elite in the early 1900s. A landmark structure formerly known as the Berners Hotel, its grand interiors—marble walls and floors, ornate balustrades, and richly carved moldings—served as a fitting backdrop to the gatherings of King Edward VII, Peter Carl Fabergé, and other luminaries who frequented the hotel at the turn of the last century, when its reputation was at its peak. Today, however, thanks to the conceptual acumen of visionary hotelier Ian Schrager and an interior revamp by design firm Yabu Pushelberg, the hotel now attracts a broader swath of habitués.
“It’s as appealing to a middle-aged tourist as it is to an international fashionista or a local teenager with tattoos,” says Glenn Pushelberg, who, along with George Yabu, collaborated with Schrager’s design team to inject the hotel with shots of contemporary zip while preserving the best of its original character.
The designers began working on the project in 2010, after a prior renovation of the luxury hotel had languished during the economic downturn. Schrager and Marriott International took over to recast it as a flagship property in the emerging EDITION brand for the hotel chain. A design approach that would attract a diverse clientele was part of the plan from the start.
“It was important to restore the ornate public spaces, but also to add a layer of modernity with furnishings and art as a juxtaposition to the traditional frame,” Pushelberg says. “Mixing new elements into the aesthetic palette allows people to appreciate the original structure without feeling like they’re in a museum and keeps the audience from being narrowed.”
Refreshed and reimagined public spaces
First constructed in a classical style as five adjoining townhouses in 1835, the structures had been combined and converted into a luxury hotel in 1909. Given the hotel’s landmark status, the designers’ first step was to restore the faded luster of the common areas—including the extravagant lobby, two bars, a restaurant, a dance club, and various meeting rooms—while updating them and weaving them into the present. “We thought about the moldings and wondered, ‘Do we paint them, gild them, color them?’” Pushelberg recalls. “Finally, we made the decision to keep them neutral and paint them a soft clay color.”
Once the historic backdrop was refreshed, the designers set a bright tone in the public spaces with modern touches. “We decided early on not to put tricks, like voluminous drapes, into the interiors,” Pushelberg says. “We also wanted to distill the elements and carefully considered how much English character to include,” he adds. “It’s easy to get into a contextual trap.”
Pristinely edited contemporary strokes pepper the historic common areas with the unexpected wit that Schrager’s properties are known for. Most notable is the massive silver egg-shaped chandelier, designed by German lighting designer Ingo Maurer, in the lobby. Other energizing elements include Donald Judd–inspired sofas upholstered in bright green velvet, black metal lighting and tables by Christian Liaigre, leather-upholstered wingback chairs, and Salvador Dalí–inspired 24-karat gold floor lamps.
In contrast to the history-infused common areas, the 173 guestrooms and 2,077-square-foot penthouse are fitted out as purely contemporary cocoons. Walnut- or oak-paneled walls set off streamlined custom furnishings, while white mosaic walls wrap
the crisp, clean baths. “The idea was to create a clean yet cozy feel, like a cabin on a private yacht—a respite from the streets of London,” Pushelberg says. Before the London EDITION hotel opened in fall 2013, Yabu Pushelberg had already begun to extend its collaboration with Schrager and Marriott by designing interiors for two other EDITION hotels currently under construction in New York and Miami, where the brand will be shaped not by visual continuity, but by ideas of individuality, exceptional service, and lasting comfort.
“The interiors of every hotel are unique,” Pushelberg says. “Yet in each the design concepts are not about tricks, or bars, or nightclubs—they’re about style, substance, service, and social settings. It’s a more mature approach to hotel design, and that’s what people are responding to now.” And a refreshingly inclusive cross-section of people at that.
The London EDITION
- Designers: Yabu Pushelberg with Ian Schrager Company
- Architects: Shepherd Construction with Denton Coker Marshall
- Client: Ian Schrager/Marriott International
- Where: London
- What: Seven-floor hotel
- Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request