If you happen to find yourself in Philly between now and March 2012, hightail it over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to check out Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion, a terrific exhibit devoted to the fashion, furniture and decorative arts designed by this legendary boundary-pushing architect.
We’ve been fans of the W Hotel since they opened in New York City back in 1998. Since then, we’ve stayed at the W in San Francisco, Seattle and New York (Times Square and Lexington Avenue) and even attended a friend’s wedding in a waterfront suite at the W Hoboken (fun!). So we were thrilled when the W London invited us on a press trip* earlier this month to attend the opening of their new hotel in Leicester Square in the heart of the West End.
In keeping with W’s work hard/play tradition—and their fusion of fashion, art and design—the lobby is kitted out with curvy white banquettes and details that nod to the locale without hitting you over the head, including a bookcase bearing a subtle Union Jack motif, traditional china plates boasting decidedly untraditional images by Dutch fashion photographer Marcel Van Der Vlugt, seriously cool punk rock floral arrangements (think: a red rose Mohawk atop a silver tartan-chain-and-safety-pin-studded vase) and throw pillows created by up-and-coming British fashion designers.
During the day, you can find folks holding casual business meetings or grabbing a leisurely bite in the lobby Lounge (our fave: the superb fish & chips). Come nightfall, the space is transformed into the city’s sexiest hotspot, with PYTs and the hotties who love them sipping champagne amid the glow from tubular glass fireplaces and hundreds of twinkling candles. (This is where Vogue.com UK recently hosted its 15th anniversary bash.) Tucked behind the bar is Wyld, the hotel’s intimate nightclub, which boasts the world’s largest disco ball (disco balls are a recurring theme throughout the hotel, lending it a “where’s the party?” vibe, even at 9am). There are also two sizable meeting rooms and a plush, 39-seat screening room. During our visit, it played host to a spirited fashion-in-film discussion between André Leon Talley and Manolo Blahnik that drew the likes of Henry Holland, Stephen Jones and Vivienne Westwood (afterward, everyone repaired to Spice Market on the ground floor for drinks and a nosh). And fashion fans will find plenty of ways to part with their money in the W hotel shop, which is curated by Amanda Ross and carries clothing and accessories from cool emerging designers.
Outside, lighting artist Jason Bruges collaborated with architects Jestico + White on an LED installation that encircles the hotel’s 10-story translucent glass façade and changes according to the time of day, the weather and happenings around the city.
The 192 guest rooms—many of which we saw during a cleverly staged interactive performance by Punchdrunk theatre group—are also a feat of engineering, with most featuring long, freestanding sink/work islands in the tiled-floor entrance giving way to a carpeted bedroom area made cozy-chic by shiny silver drapes and fun mod furnishings (we especially liked the “keep your wig on” pillow). Unlike more traditional hotels, which feature a separate bathroom, the WC and shower in our room were located behind floor-to-ceiling mirrored doors in the center of the guestroom. Great in theory and it looked way cool, but we didn’t love the puddles of water that trailed us every time we stepped from the shower back into the room—and privacy would definitely be an issue for anyone traveling with a friend or lover who doesn’t relish the thought of performing their morning ablutions in front of an audience.
We did, however, love the iPod dock, the 37” LCD flat screen TV, the leather-handled dresser drawers (so chic), and the his-and-hers vibrators in the mini bar (no, we didn’t try one, but seeing them made us smile). And the oh-so-comfy W bed really was heavenly.
The W London was 10 years in the making, according to Eva Ziegler, Global Brand Leader of Le Meridien and W Hotels Worldwide. (You think finding the perfect location is easy? Think again.) Next up on W's European expansion tour: Paris, which opens in April, and St. Petersburg, which is slated to open later this year.
W London, 10 Wardour Street, Leicester Square. Rooms start at $519 (converted from £323) per double room per night, including taxes and charges. To book call +44 (0) 207 758 1000; or visit the W London website.