There’s only one place in London where you can drink next to Gigi Hadid, read first edition British novels, stumble into a hallway fashion shoot, then flash the Hogwarts Express without getting arrested. It’s the Standard Hotel’s new London locale—and it’s first footprint outside of the US. The many insane joys of the Standard London were created with major input from two female forces: Amber Asher (left), the president and general counsel for Standard International, and Verena Haller (right), the hotel group’s chief designer.
“I hunted her down about two years ago,” laughs Asher. She’d heard about Haller’s stellar work at other hotels and “wouldn’t take no for an answer.” Asher promised “1000% trust with creative decisions” and a commitment to honesty, which Haller found compelling. “Plus,” says the designer, “I’d never had a woman as a boss before.”
It’s not something The Standard boardrooms always had, either. But in Asher’s eight-year tenure, she’s increased their senior ranks with more women than ever before. “I’ve hired tons of men, too,” Asher says. “But the reality is, when I want to hire someone, I want to hire the most qualified person in the world. That happens to be a lot of women, especially women looking for leadership positions. It’s a credit to Amar [Lalvani, the hotel group’s CEO] and Shaun [Hausman, their longstanding designer] that they’ve understood the importance of having women at the table… Recently, we were at an actual table with [developer] Sean Arnold from Crosstree. He looked up and said, ‘For years and years, I’ve been sitting at this table discussing our future. Then Amber goes out and hires a bunch of women, and suddenly, they’re getting shit done.’”
Now enter their latest effort: The Standard London, a 266 room masterpiece smack-dab in the middle of the bustling King’s Cross train hub. First up, architects transformed the Camden Town Hall Annex, a 1974 building former hotspot for bureaucracy, into a spot where you actually want to make out with someone. Details include vintage books in the lobby sourced from libraries all over England, blackout curtains and CBD-stocked mini-bars to ease jet lag and hangovers, and a top floor restaurant with 360 views of London, plus private booths (for Ms. Hadid, along with other visitors like Emma Stone, Christina Aguilera, and various Beckham boys…) All of this encircled in glowing lights and macramé. “I got it all from Peru,” Haller says as we step onto the roof, where waiters pass cigarettes on silver trays. “I kind of think living well is a hobby, and the same way you buy clothes from all your travels and mix them into your wardrobe, the same should happen with things in your home.”
What likely won’t happen in your home is the kind of cheeky voyeurism that might occur here. Private bathtubs dot the eighthfloor terraces, making it totally possible to get naked in front of King’s Cross Saint Pancreas—the very train station where Platform 9 ¾ collects Hogwarts students (and Harry Potter fans) every year. (When I tested the tub on my first night’s stay. It was luxuriously silly…once I screamed “fuck it!” and dropped my robe and plunged into the water while scanning the King’s Cross windows for signs of watchers and / or Weasleys.)
For those who prefer their nudity indoors, Haller has a basic formula for Standard-worthy sex vibes. “Lights you can dim, a great candle, and a bed you can really sink into. You want a mattress with some bounce. If it doesn’t bounce… you’ll notice. And,” she smiles, “we don’t want that for you.” They do want great hair for you, which is why Asher test-drove the UK blow dryers herself before settling on Super Power BaByliss models for every single room. “Well, it’s my job to make sure our hotel has the best of everything,” she grins. “These are the best.”