The Standard Hotels Is Creating a New International Standard

The Standard Hotels is opening its first European hotel, in London—and its international expansion is only just beginning

As a brand, Standard Hotels has never shied away from glam and provocation. When the company’s original boutique hotel opened in West Hollywood, its investors weren’t just business moguls but movie stars such as Benicio Del Toro and Leonardo DiCaprio and alternative rockers such as James Iha and D’Arcy Wretzky of the Smashing Pumpkins. Its amenities and programming have often relied on risqué puns, and likewise its five boutique hotels have hosted several nude photoshoots. A corner room of the Standard High Line in New York was even prominently featured in 2011’s NC-17-rated film Shame.

The hotel app One Night has the same unconventionality—if not the salaciousness—of Standard Hotels’ other ventures. Its parent company, Standard International, initially launched One Night as a way for guests to get discounted same-day bookings, but it eventually put competition aside and expanded its offerings to include more than 170 other hotels in London as well as locations in ten additional cities in the United States. In keeping with Standard’s, well, standards, the app’s roster is now highly curated to include other trendy hotels, including the Ned, a Soho House location in London.

But, One Night has done more than simply reflect Standard’s distinct brand of hipness; it also served as a natural prelude to the brand’s expansion into the international market. Now that Standard Hotels has established its digital presence in London, the next step is a physical space: a sixth hotel, located in the heart of King’s Cross.

As of press time, the Standard–King’s Cross was slated to open sometime in 2018, making its home in a commercial office building formerly inhabited by Camden Council. The conversion plan includes 250 guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, an observation deck, and, most exciting of all, a three-story roof extension that draws inspiration from the Swiss Cottage Library.

Many locals are hoping the conversion will also beautify the appearance of the rather drab building, which has been affectionately (or perhaps not so affectionately) dubbed the Egg Box, due to its shape and color. But, while the Standard’s exterior renovation will likely be an improvement, the company’s goal is to never completely clash with a location’s already-existing surroundings. The outsides of all of Standard’s hotels appear to draw upon simplicity and tasteful industrialism, with the true color existing within.

For instance, Annie Ohayon (aka Annie O) was tapped to curate the Standard Sounds Series in New York, which has brought intimate performances by everyone from Pearl Jam to Tegan & Sarah to the late Lou Reed to the company’s hotels. Although its construction, amenities, and cultural aspects are being kept under wraps, guests can expect the same kind of individuality at the Standard London.

“What makes a brand a success is not a unique name or a different graphic/design identity but a soul and a culture—a team that lives and breathes its values, that then translates these values into experiences for guests in a way that no other brand could or would,” Standard International CEO Amar Lalvani told Hotel Management on March 1, 2018.

That kind of experiential flexibility is also invaluable when making business decisions in a world where home-sharing sites such as Airbnb are becoming the preferred avenue of booking for so many travelers. “The Standard’s focus on culture, social spaces, and entertainment serves us well,” Lalvani said in Hotel Management. “We can do something that Airbnb, with a distributed model, could never do. We bring people together.”

Next up for Standard in the European market are Berlin, Paris, and Milan, Italy—all cities that Lalvani told Hotel Managment “fit the Standard culture.” There are also plans for a Standard somewhere in Latin America—possibly Mexico City.

In typical Standard fashion, specifics have yet to arise for any of these projects, but they will no doubt be driven by an ethos that isn’t just aesthetically pleasing but culturally and geographically relevant.