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Hot hotelier Klaus Ortlieb brings his magic to Iceland. A HotelChatter Review
Iceland in the winter? Sure, why not? Unlike, say East Coast U.S.A, Reykjavik can be surprisingly temperate at this time of year (high 30s to low 40s while we were there). Windy? Yes. Chilly? A bit. But the chance of weather mayhem of snowpocalypse proportions is slim. Plus, the Northern Lights are at highest activity in a decade, so now might be your best chance to spot them.
Since learning that Klaus Ortlieb had resurfaced in Reykjavik last spring, we knew we had to check out the new hostel/hotel hybrid Hlemmur Square. Funnily enough, we came across Klaus himself chatting with friends in the hotel lobby in the morning. There's an endorsement! We didn't interrupt but we sure did eavesdrop: the hostel rooms "need some work" he says, "they need a splash of color."
The FlyBus from Keflavik International Airport drops off in front of the hotel. The hotel lobby was quiet when we checked in around 5 p.m., with just a handful of guests/bar drinkers hanging around; two of which were asleep, one of which was asleep on the floor. Well, we are all a little tired after the new year, no? Our receptionist was very friendly and even walked us up to our room herself. We already were getting a very laid back vibe. "Check out time is around 11, " we were told, "but if you're later than that, it's OK". We like.
It's been a while since we've heard of hotelier Klaus Ortlieb, the man behind several hip NYC hotels like Cooper Square-now-Standard East Village Hotel, the excellent LES spot, THOR and even the super skinny Gotham Hotel on 46th Street. But at last we've got some new chatter on KO.
We've learned he's taken his hotel magic to Reykjavik in Iceland for the Hlemmur Square Hotel.
The hotel is described as "affordable yet stylish hostel accommodations" but the joint also promises "luxurious hotel rooms" under the same roof. Bu-bu-but how can that possibly be? Well, it just simply is. The hotel explains on their website:
To us it makes perfect sense, we are able to bring a little luxury to the world of hosteling and a bit of that “get to know your fellow man and buy him a drink” feeling to an upscale hotel. Iceland is the best place for it, always willing to experiment with pushing boundaries.
Hotel News / Andre Balazs / Klaus Ortlieb / Standard Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
We've heard rumblings that Cooper Square Hotel will probably turn into a Standard Hotel now that hottie hotelier Andre Balazs owns the place. AB's involvement with the hotel was already public knowledge when his signature was discovered on some liquor license documents back in September.
Now, after the initial shock waves have settled, we're starting to wonder: what exactly is in store for this bizarre, overlooked hotel located in Manhattan's thriving East Village? Though only two miles from the Standard, the crowds here differ greatly from those of the Meatpacking District. But will the hotel, under the new Balazs regime, adapt?
Moroccan-born publicist Annie Ohayon has found her perfect job: curating a music series on top of Manhattan's Cooper Square Hotel. And she wants everyone to come. On Sunday, we caught African duo Amadou and Mariam performing there and saw just how popular the free concert series has become.
Angelique Kidjo, Moby and DJ Spooky have all made appearances at the lofty venue, whose stage is simply a mic stand in a corner of the room. Audience members who don't want to squeeze inside the penthouse studio can remain on the wraparound terrace, enjoying the views, and still get to enjoy the entire show. For a hotel that had been threatening to change ownership, this place was—at least on Sunday night—in high demand.
After a press preview last night, the Gotham Hotel's new restaurant, Tenpenny, will open for dinner service tonight. With the Trilby at the Cooper Square Hotel opening the doors six days ago, Tenpenny is the second food-and-bev operation in Klaus Ortlieb's mini-pire to open in the past week.
Klaus Ortlieb, the man who has scooted in as the third "partner" in the beleaguered Cooper Square Hotel did a feature spot in GQ magazine (sorry, no online link) where he dishes on his favorite things--in and out of hotels.
What we learn about Klaus, the former manager at the uber-cool THOR Hotel on the LES:
· One of nine kids in a Catholic family from Germany. Umm..Fun?
· Trained under both Ian Schrager and Andre Balazs.
· He loves horses.
· He always wears pressed clothes.
· $5.99 glasses from Duane Reade make him happy.
· He drives a sick ride--a 2008 Range Rover.
Now about the hotel things. Rooms at Cooper Square will all have real live books inside of them. Guests can also expect some good service as this is important to Klaus who once worked at Claridge's in London.
I get very turned off when people say, "I can't do it." What do you mean? I tell everyone at my hotels: Provide everything the guests want except hookers and drugs.
Although, if you like to travel with your own ashtray (and if you do, you're a weirdo!) then be careful as Klaus admits he is a bit of klepto when it comes to cool astray designs.
Some more hotelier news for you. The NYT Escapes section took a visit to Klaus Ortlieb's upstate weekend house in Pine Planes, NY. Ortlieb, if you didn't know, was most recently responsible for opening and managing THOR on Manhattan's LES. He also spent time working for other big hoteliers, Andre Balazs and Ian Schrager.
These days he's prepping the Cooper Square Hotel for opening but still makes time for his country house. Most of the article is about how Klaus fixed up the house but there were some interesting hotel tidbits in there, like this one:
He is currently overseeing five hotel projects; three, including Cooper Square, are new downtown Manhattan developments in collaboration with the architect Carlos Zapata, whose work includes the renovation of Soldier Field in Chicago.
No mention of Matt Moss here although we suspect he's involved in there somewhere.
Also, Klaus is krazy about his dogs, two vizslas named Duchess and Princess. “Now, everybody has to pass the dog test,” he said. Hmmm...we say he should focus on a black spandex test instead.
Cooper Square Hotel, September 2007.
A while back we wrote about how hotelier Gregory Peck was definitely still involved in the Cooper Square Hotel project but as we did, we noticed some obvious cracks in the friendship/work relationship with co-developer Matt Moss.
We couldn't get Matt Moss to speak with us and even verifying the Peck-Moss partnership with Moss' people was somewhat of a struggle. Nevertheless, we learned that Peck was still in on an ownership level and that Cooper Square would be opening sometime in April 2008.
But then we received a tip from HotelChatter reader Low Pro who says that Matt Moss is pursuing another partnership with Cooper Square's general manager Klaus Ortlieb.
I know for a fact that Matt Moss and Klaus Ortlieb were pursuing a deal here in NYC under the company name of MK Hotels. According to a friend who went to Penn with Moss, they are planning on pursuing deals on the strength of Klaus' reputation with Andre [Balazs] and THOR and Matt's experience first with Related and then as a strip mall developer in Long Island.
As for what's happened between Moss and Peck, Low Pro says its a united front strictly for the hotel opening but that they are not partners anymore. Who knows if Low Pro's info is spot on, but if it is, it sure does fill in some holes. Either way, don't expect anymore hotels from PeckMoss ever again.
As for MKHotels, we already found a website under that name but its for Molinaro Koger and they offer hotel real estate advisory and brokerage services. So we're thinking whatever MK Hotels deals are going on are probably still in the pipe dream stage.
· Gregory Peck Talks Cooper Square [HotelChatter]