This is the lobby of the new Gramercy Park hotel in New York City. I think it's safe to say that it's on its way to becoming one of the most extraordinary public spaces in New York. It was designed by Julian Schnabel (the NY artist famous for his broken plate paintings) and is owned by Ian Schrager (formerly of the Studio 54 nightclub, now a hotel magnate). I was here to interview Schrager, who must be worth $100m but hangs out in a scruffy T-shirt and jeans. When he approached me I thought he was one of the builders.
We're talking serious art, here. That's a Cy Twombly on the left wall. There are some huge and magnificent Schnabels. It's like walking into a billionaire's mansion. As if the Museum of Modern Art had emptied its collection into Buckingham Palace..
Schrager is famous for his lean, minimalist hotels (think Morgans in NY and the Delano in Miami). But he sold the chain for millions and has turned his back on monochrome. He's going for voluptuous instead.
About half of the hotel's 80 rooms opened this week at a reduced rate while they finish the decorating, train up the staff and sort out the service. It will eventually cost a minimum of $500 a night, but you can sneak in this month for less than $250. Sounds like a bargain to me.....