TRAVEL

Sharp - - CONTENTS - By Peter Salts­man

With the open­ing of The Cur­tain ho­tel, Lon­don’s Shored­itch is of­fi­cially the coolest bor­ough in the U.K. cap­i­tal.

With the open­ing of The Cur­tain, New York hote­lier Michael Achen­baum brings his neigh­bour­hood-mak­ing pedi­gree to the U.K.’S coolest bor­ough

DE­SPITE WHAT YOU might hear on the news, Lon­don is boom­ing. Never mind Brexit or bomb­ings — look up to­ward the city’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally gloomy skies and you’ll see noth­ing but cranes. Build­ings shoot up from rub­ble at record speed. Trains spill out into sta­tions with record numbers of peo­ple: new­com­ers, vis­i­tors, and life­long Lon­don­ers alike. The city just keeps grow­ing. And nowhere in the city is this truer than in Shored­itch. Lo­cated in Lon­don’s in­creas­ingly trendy East End, Shored­itch strad­dles the but­toned-up City of Lon­don (where all the bank­ing hap­pens) and youth­ful Hack­ney and Hox­ton (where all the drink­ing hap­pens). As a re­sult, the bor­ough is equal parts work and play, a hotspot for cre­atives of all types.

It’s also where Michael Achen­baum is cur­rently kneel­ing on the side­walk, pick­ing a cig­a­rette butt off the mar­ble tiling out­side one of the new­est of those build­ings. Achen­baum is the — metic­u­lous, fas­tid­i­ous, in­com­pa­ra­bly en­er­getic — owner of The Cur­tain, a ho­tel and pri­vate mem­bers’ club that opened in late spring. He’s spent the last four years work­ing on this project, which now takes up a full city block just off Shored­itch’s main drag, join­ing The Hox­ton and The Ace in the live/work/play pan­theon of bou­tique ho­tels in this small cor­ner of the city. In jeans and a beat-up leather jacket, he bounds around the ho­tel, say­ing hello to every­one on staff and or­ches­trat­ing fin­ish­ing touches as though he didn’t have a staff of hun­dreds to at­tend to them. “De­tails are so im­por­tant,” he says. “It kills me that I see things no­body else does.”

Achen­baum has made a name for him­self as some­one who ob­sesses over ev­ery lit­tle thing — in the best, most pro­duc­tive way pos­si­ble. When he opened his first prop­erty, the Gan­sevoort Ho­tel in New York’s Meat­pack­ing District in 2004, he al­most sin­gle-hand­edly gen­tri­fied the neigh­bour­hood — and kicked off a wave of trendy, high-de­sign bou­tique ho­tels and restau­rants through­out the city. For The Cur­tain, he’s at yet an­other fore­front in hospi­tal­ity trends: the ho­tel/mem­bers’ club combo that seems to be tak­ing Lon­don by storm right now. And he has paid par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the de­tails here, es­pe­cially when it comes to col­lab­o­rat­ing. The ho­tel fea­tures three restau­rants, in­clud­ing the first Euro­pean restau­rant by James Beard Award–win­ning chef Marcus Sa­muels­son; it

boasts a Gan­sevoort-style rooftop pool of the type there aren’t (un­sur­pris­ingly) very many of in Lon­don; it has a gym that might be more at home in an NFL club­house than in a ho­tel, a par­tic­u­lar point of pride for Achen­baum, who works out rit­u­al­is­ti­cally; and it fea­tures, on al­most ev­ery wall, an art col­lec­tion cu­rated by the Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Mick Rock. Among the spec­ta­cles: pieces by Rock, orig­i­nal Richard Ave­don prints of the Bea­tles, and a Banksy from Achen­baum’s per­sonal col­lec­tion.

“I love mak­ing some­thing peo­ple will love,” says Achen­baum. “I never set out to be an op­er­a­tions guy. I’m not an ex­pert on con­struc­tion. I’m not even that cre­ative. But I choose the right peo­ple and I let them do their thing — I pro­vide the box for them to play in, and the re­sults are usu­ally amaz­ing.” Like on open­ing week­end in May, for ex­am­ple, when the base­ment whisky bar and ad­ja­cent dance club were packed for a one-night-only DJ set by Court­ney Love. It’s like we said: Lon­don is boom­ing, and nowhere is this truer than in Shored­itch.

1. The Cur­tain’s ware­house-like red brick digs are home to 120 guest rooms and three restau­rants. 2. Awash in sea-blue hues, Mediter­ranean eatery Lido sits next to the rooftop pool. 3. The Cur­tain’s vi­sion­ary owner, Michael Achen­baum. 4. Suites adopt a...

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