PUBLIC wants to democratize luxury

Ian Schrager’s boutique hotel chain relaunched this week, with a new look and an updated message

Ian Schrager premiered his PUBLIC brand in 2017 with a radical idea: “LUXURY FOR ALL.” The hotelier was unimpressed with high thread counts, white silk gloves, fine china—all of the superfluous travel amenities that had signaled high status during his parents’ time.

The boutique hotel was born. PUBLIC set a wave of copycats into motion—‘lifestyle’ accommodations which catered to the varying tastes of a younger, cooler crowd, with no time for antiquated customs like lobby small-talk, or a complimentary splash of champagne at check-in.

PUBLIC reopened earlier this week, kicking off with a party at the Lower East Side establishment’s bar. The pandemic forced the hotel to close its doors in March of 2020—but Schrager found a silver lining. First, he elaborated on his mission. PUBLIC’s catchphrase was adapted for the times and announced in a novel press statement: “LUXURY IS HUMANITY.” As Schrager explains, “It’s egalitarian and democratized. Luxury today is about how something makes you feel, it’s emotional and visceral, and about comfort, ease, convenience as well as being freed from distractions and hassles and allowing more free time to do the things you really care about.”

PUBLIC’s hiatus also allowed for a few renovations. Chefs Diego Muñoz and John Fraser have reimagined LOUIS, the hotel’s fast-gourmet restaurant. The pair is collaborating on a brand new dining venue, Popular, which features Peru’s multicultural cuisine alongside a few American classics. There’s also updated landscaping by Madison Cox, and a new PUBLIC SERVICE department for friendlier, quicker assistance.

“I wanted to make sure that when you came to the hotel and throughout your stay, you felt as if you were staying at your friend’s or family’s house,” Schrager explains, “[someone] who really cared about you and tried to be a gracious host.”