RH Guesthouse Opening for Guests…At Least Some Guests

Eleven years after it was first proposed, amid both great anticipation and a bit of mystery, RH will officially open its Guesthouse hotel property right after Labor Day, further extending the upscale home furnishings retailer’s reach into the luxury hospitality sector.

Situated in New York City’s Meatpacking District and around the corner from its retail store there, the RH Guesthouse (pictured above a few weeks before its opening as workers put the finishing touches on the property) will defy conventional lodging practices…much as the company’s stores have over the past decade.

As such it is another manifestation of the reinvention of the company under CEO Gary Friedman who continues to move the brand both upmarket and into new markets, including restaurants, private jets and yachts and, soon, residences, spas and its first locations in Europe.

Friedman has talked generally about Guesthouse but in a Wall Street Journal Magazine feature today he provided many more details on the property…while still maintaining that air of intrigue by not allowing any pictures of the rooms or quoting prices: the former can only be seen in person and the latter are only available by request.

The hotel – and no doubt Friedman doesn’t want it called that just as prefers his stores be called Galleries – features just ten units: six rooms, three suites and a “residence” that is reserved for Friedman and his personally selected friends and family. There is also a ground floor restaurant – The Dining Room – and a Champagne & Caviar bar, both open to the public but no lobby, a private rooftop pool only for guests and, according to the WSJ article, a no kids policy.

The rooms themselves adhere to an RH aesthetic but do not feature furniture or products from the company, Friedman told the Journal. “It’s not about the furniture,” the article quotes him saying. What they do have are two bathrooms for each room (Friedman is photographed in a giant marble tub in one of them accompanying the story), a fully stocked pantry that would seem to put both minibars and traditional room service to shame and individual gym workout areas for each room.

Friedman says he first pitched the idea of a lodging property to the RH board in 2011, back when the company was just at the start of its transition from its origins as small, mall-based stores selling an eclectic mix of household accessories with a smattering of mission-style furniture in the mix. “They thought I was nuts,” he told the Journal, a sentiment shared by many outsider observers back then who didn’t get his new vision for the company that eventually remade it into today’s RH of condominium-complex-sized galleries, massive print look books and products with decidedly upscale designs.

With the opening of RH Guesthouse in two weeks, Friedman and RH will be on to the next things, which include the company’s first location in Europe, outside London; a second lodging property in Aspen, accompanied by its first Bath House & Spa; additional galleries in Europe and its first homes, also in Aspen. And that’s in addition to more U.S. locations in the works.

So, if you’re thinking a ten-room hotel property is no big deal…well, then you don’t know RH. Or Gary Friedman.

Check-in begins next Wednesday.

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