'Ego-hoteliers' vie to leap on London bandwagon

Catherine Pepinster on the new breed of owner and their creations

They have egos as big as the Ritz and they're opening a new form of hotel for the international media and fashion set in London. The "ego- hoteliers" have arrived.

This new breed claims its hotels are discreet and chic, for people who want privacy and style and are prepared to pay for it, and are bored by the five-star palaces such as the Savoy and the Dorchester.

What they have in common is an obsession with imposing their own personality which dominates every aspect of their hotels from the choice of eggspoon to the grouting in the bathrooms. Among them is Gordon Campbell Gray, who is converting a former Lloyd's banking hall in the Aldwych into a 120-room hotel; Ian Shrager, who owns Manhattan's Paramount, Royalton and Morgan's and is opening four hotels in London; Anouska Hempel, the former actress, who began the trend towards the "ego hotel" with the Hempel, and Christina Ong, the Singaporean milllionaire retailer who has followed suit with the Metropolitan. Restaurateur Sir Terence Conran is also making his first foray into hotels with the re-opening of the Great Eastern in the heart of the City.

Mr Campbell Gray is unapologetic about his absolutist approach to fixing every aspect of his hotel. "Not even an eggspoon is going to be selected without it being approved by my office as right for the design of the whole place. My guests are sophisticated people who want something that really has a personality... This is about stealth wealth, people who are discreet, and stealthily acquire their money."

There is nothing stealthy about Mr Campbell Gray's desire to produce the most exclusive, stylish hotel of the moment. Nor is there about rival Mr Shrager, who is hot-footing it to Britain to catch up with London's tourist boom and need for extra beds. Mr Shrager, founder of Studio 54, New York's best-known Seventies disco, has formed a pounds 40m joint-venture partnership with Britain's Burford Property Group and plans to build four hotels in London's West End.

Last week it was announced that the first would be in St Martin's Lane, on the site of one of the capital's most respected cinemas, the Lumiere, which will close as a result. Like Mr Campbell Gray he is determined that his hotels will reflect his own taste. He once said: "There isn't a thing in my hotels, any of them, that I haven't contemplated. Nothing. From the pencils to the toilet paper to the shower curtain to the grout marks between the tiles in the bathrooms."

David Bailey, a hotel analyst with BDO Hospitality Consulting, believes there is a trend to developing hotels for younger, affluent people in the media, fashion and entertainment by hoteliers who want places reflecting their own personality.

The rush to build hotels follows reports that London is struggling to cope with the number of tourists flocking in. Last year the hotel occupancy rate in the capital was 82 per cent, the highest of any European city. An extra 10,000 hotel beds are needed to meet demand.

Mr Campbell Gray began planning his pounds 12.5m hotel with a tour to visit 20 of the world's finest hotels, where he scrutinised every detail from the softness of the pillows to the shoeshine service. "They might be luxurious, but too many of them are just too similar," he said.

Andrew Tuck, Travel

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing