Romée de Gorïanoff co-owns the Experimental Cocktail Club nightlife empire. He runs bars, clubs, and restaurants across the world, from New York to London, Paris and Ibiza. This January, though, the financier-turned-barkeep is prepping his most ambitious project yet: a B&B. Not bed and breakfast, but bed and beverage. Instead of early mornings, chintzy comforters, and home-cooked fry-ups, he’ll be offering late nights, sleek linens, and handcrafted cocktails at the 37-room Grand Pigalle hotel in Paris.
The entire hotel will be defined by the wine bar and cocktail den on its first floor. This will act as its key amenity, rather than a conventional restaurant (though food will be available, too).
“When you call room service, you’ll be able to ask either to talk to the sommelier or the bartender, and we’ll bring up cocktails to your room,” de Gorïanoff explained over the phone last week. He’s also planning to stock the mini bars with house-made premixed bottled cocktails so there’s top notch tipple on tap at any hour, including the exotically named Kota Ternaté, an aged tea, coconut and rum blend — sweet and spicy, it’s dangerously more-ish for after-midnight. Like the other venues under his aegis, the décor will be part Poirot, part shabby chic, a reimagining of the mom-and-pop hotels de charme which once littered the French capital.
Nightlife, in his view, is the perfect proving ground for a would-be hotelier. “You have a very current sense of how to welcome people that’s pushed to extremes because of the sheer number of people you’re welcoming every night.”
De Gorïanoff isn’t alone. These unconventional B&Bs are appearing stateside, too.
David Kaplan, author of a new book about the New York bar he co-owns, Death + Company, will début his own bed-and-beverage-style B&B in an undisclosed corner of L.A. early next year. (Permits pending, Kaplan’s keeping details close.) His new bar, the Walker Inn, will sit inside an as-yet-unnamed new boutique hotel; 10 rooms of that larger hotel sitting immediately above his bar have been carved out as a new kind of club floor. It’s his team who will manage this mini B&B, Kaplan says proudly of his still-under-the-radar endeavor.
What he will reveal: as at Grand Pigalle in Paris, Kaplan and co. plan to offer pre-mixed tipples in bottles in the mini bar — plus ample Alka Seltzer in the bathrooms. Guests won’t check in at the main hotel reception, but rather at the bar counter.
“Everyone in hospitality looks to a hotel as the end-all, be-all,” Kaplan raved over the phone from L.A. “At a bar, we get customers for two or three hours, it’s a little window. This is a chance to really have someone step into an entire world where you get to feed them, they sleep there, and wake up for you to provide them with coffee.”
Miami Beach has already welcomed a B&B-inspired spot. The Freehand, a hipsterish high-end hostel in Mid-Beach, may not have been conceived by nightlife veterans, but before it opened, a portion of the site was deeded to The Broken Shaker, a pop-up spot run by the two best-known cocktail jockeys in Miami, Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi. It was such a runaway success that the pair made it permanent, and the hotel now effectively operates as an offshoot of this buzzy indoor/outdoor drinking den.
In cities where most drinkers are driving, like Los Angeles or Miami, the emergence of the late-night B&B is laudable. It isn’t just handy for visitors, but also accommodates any local who’s enjoyed too many house specials. And certainly there are precedents for nightlife veterans who segue into 24/7 hospitality — just look at Ian Schrager. The boom in bed and beverage now, though, is driven by specific factors, at least according to cocktail expert Charlotte Voisey, host of web series “The Proper Pour.”
“From the 1980s to early 2000s, when it came to hotels, it was all about what type of pillow you got, how big your suite was, whether the Wi-Fi was free — basically, the room,” she explained via phone from her NYC home base. “Now, rather than saying ‘Oh yeah, doesn’t that place have duck pillows?’ it’s the bar that has become the anchor for people.”
These days no top-tier hotel can survive without its own signature craft cocktail list, Voisey noted, pointing out how a best hotel bar category was added to the awards given out at Tales of the Cocktail, the annual Oscars of the booze world held in New Orleans every July. (In 2014, The Artesian at the Langham in London won internationally, while Clyde Common at the Ace Hotel in Portland, OR, took home America’s best.)
New Travel Priorities
This presages a second Golden Age for the hotel bar. The first birthed classics like Bemelmans in New York’s Carlyle hotel and the American Bar at the Savoy in London; the new wave has seen the likes of the Regent at Miami’s Gale hotel or any of the Ace Hotels’ other drinking dens. It reflects the changing ways we travel, as Grand Pigalle co-owner Romée de Gorïanoff puts it pithily.
“Now, when I travel, I’m not going to stay and eat like a stupid guy in the hotel restaurant — I want to explore,” he said. “But if I’m waiting for a taxi, or meeting a friend, or having a meeting? The bar at the hotel is key.”
Using bars as anchors for accommodation in this way is also a natural progression from the fad for restaurants to offer a few rooms, such as the six suites at farm-to-table spot Longman & Eagle in Chicago’s Logan Square or the UK’s Pig chainlet. Indeed, The Pig proudly refers to each of its properties as just that: a ‘Restaurant with Rooms.’ These countrified gourmet boltholes are essentially upscale gastropubs — and perhaps that’s a nod to the ultimate inspiration behind B&Bs like the Grand Pigalle, the Freehand, or the Walker Inn.
After all, the first hotels weren’t standalone properties but rather ad hoc rooms attached to roadside hostelries or pubs. It’s time once again to ask the cliché question: “Is there room at the inn?”
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