Today's Obsession: Luxury is Relative

interior design

We’re in downtown L.A. For the next few days, doing a lightning round of meetings for new business. We’re staying at this awesome little hostel called Stay, which really strikes me as a shift in the notions of what luxury actually means.

The place is a redevelopment of a dive called the Cecil, a fairly notorious transient hotel. They’ve redone each room in small, accessibly chic, spare design—orange, blue, and white. All of the furniture is simple and tidy, geared towards a generation who’s grown up on IKEA and instant-design… But the rooms themselves lack basic amenities that we seen in all modern hotels—like bathrooms and in-room wireless connectivity. I, personally, don’t care. I’m not worried about where I’m going to find a bathroom to wash up in since they’re everywhere and always have been in my life.

The hotel was built in an era when city hotel visitors were primarily men traveling on business, so the lack of a bathroom seems old-fashioned—each hall of about five rooms is equipped with about three common toilets and a shower. Each locks securely, so there’s no feeling of “public washroom.” the lack of wireless means the building is strewn with small nooks and lounges, specifically geared towards socializing and connecting with total strangers—it feels exactly like the embodiment of a social site, and it’s perfect for the kinds of people who are online all the time.

This all makes me wonder if we’re seeing a sea change in what the ideas of “essential needs” are in travel spaces. This place says, “we don’t need spas, we don’t need sad little in-hotel gyms or salons, but we do need space to be separate in public, or together.” It’s kind of perfect for me; I grew up in nightclubs so I’m perfectly at home in a crowd of strangers so close to my private space. But I found that subtle change in sociability warming, welcoming, in light of all the hotels I’ve stayed at which make me feel isolated in my travel bubble.

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