'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

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pricing Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style