“I had bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc., all coming out with their first albums play my room.” Nur Khan, Electric Hospitality
Nur Khan is renowned as one of the preeminent figures of New York City’s nightlife scene. As owner and Creative Director of Electric Hospitality, Khan is the mastermind behind the legendary, ultra-elite hotspots Wax, Sway, Hiro, Rose Bar and Electric Room. Most recently, Khan was named partner at McCarren Hotel & Pool, part of the newly re-branded Chelsea Hotels.
THC: What inspires you and why?
Nur: I’m inspired by so many things. What comes to mind off the top of my head that are important to me is breaking new ground with concepts, breaking trends and creating new ones – being the first to do something that blows people away, not following trends that are outdated. Creative people inspire me, and I like to surround myself by them. Art and Music are an extremely important part in what inspires me, I usually incorporate all of the above into any project I create.
THC: How did you get into your business?
Nur: I was a trader on Wall street and had converted an old decrepit balcony style movie theatre into a nightclub/ live music venue. This was 1991 when the rock and roll scene was explosive. I had bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc., all coming out with their first albums, play my room. It was a great time and I became hooked on the business. I built my first bar in NYC “WAX” and the day I got my liquor license I decided to leave Wall Street and I’ve never looked back. I then designed and built SWAY my second NYC bar; these two bars were the epitome of downtown, and everyone loved them. Due to the success and the hype of my venues, I was then asked by my friends Eric Goode and Sean Macpherson so work on their first hotel project, the Maritime Hotel, and we created Hiro, then Hiro Ballroom. We wanted to create a really exciting environment inside the homeland throughout the hotel with the restaurants as well as the overall experience. We designed together, and really made magic happen there – that was my first foray into the hotel business, I kept my eyes opened all around me.
Then Ian Schrager approached me and asked me to partner with him on The Rose Bar/Jade Bar at his new baby The Gramercy Park Hotel. Popular lounges, food and beverage concepts were critical in establishing new hotels and that’s why Ian called me. I opened Rose bar and Jade Bar and Ian really allowed me to dive into all areas of the hotel, so I soaked it up like a sponge. Rose bar was another game changer. No explanation needed there. I opened, conceptualised restaurants, bars, clubs and was approached by Dream Downtown Hotel and Tao Group to partner up and Open Electric Room, I designed it and I love that room, the hotel as a whole offers such diversity. Most recently I was approached by Ed Scheetz, and we decided to re-conceptualise McCarren Hotel & Pool, part of his newly formed Chelsea Hotels portfolio. I have always been involved in all aspects of the hotel, although it may have seemed like more food and beverage, I then became a partner in McCarren Hotel & Pool as a whole, so I could contribute to all aspects of the property and really make it a destination and resort, so to speak. We redesigned everything, the lobby, the pool (Salt water), created a new rooftop called “Sheltering Sky” and I’m very proud to be a part of it and watch a great transformation happen. We’ve just created something very special in Williamsburg.
THC: What are you working on right now?
Nur: Right now most of my time is devoted to McCarren Hotel & Pool, Sheltering Sky and always, my baby Electric Room at Dream Downtown.
THC: How do you see your space evolving?
Nur: I always try to keep all my spaces evolving. I’m always trying to do new things, creative things, to keep them fresh and interesting. It’s critical to keep things interesting and ahead of the curve.
THC: Who’s your hero or icon?
Nur: I can’t say I really have a hero or icon, but I’m inspired by martial artists in general.
THC: Where’s your favourite spot around the world?
Nur: That’s hard to nail down, I like spending time on the Islands in Thailand; it’s hard for me to relax on holiday as I can’t really “check out” and when you’re half way around the world, with a 12 hour time difference, it allows me to relax more. I can vacation and practice martial arts at the same time, it’s a nice balance for me.
THC: What’s your favourite injection of culture into a brand?
Nur: Music and art, hands down. Breaking down barriers!
Image courtesy of Nur Khan