Why Can’t the Time Get Rid of Him?
When he left the New York Times for a temporary sabbatical the fond hope of everyone, and we do mean everyone was that David Brooks would not return to the opinion pages of that newspaper. His pseudo intellectual writings don’t just annoy, they take up space where serious and significant discussion could be taking place.
Alas Mr. Brooks has returned, and this Forum has tried to ignore him. But his latest column is a meandering blather about, and we are not kidding, boutique hotels.
Boutiques cater to the sort of affluent consumer who is produced by the information economy, which rewards education with money. This is a consumer who is prouder of his cultural discernment than his corporate success; who feels interested in, rather than intimidated by, a hotel room stuffed with cultural signifiers — cerulean sofas or Steichen photos. Boutique hotels hold up a flattering mirror. When guests arrive, they are supposed to feel like they are entering an edgy community of unconventional, discerning people like themselves.
In an age when Hotels.com and Travelocity turn hotel rooms into commodities, these are customers who are willing to pay extra, sometimes a lot extra, for a hotel with sensibility. The boutique Soho Grand in
is currently offering rooms at $339
a night. The Hilton Garden Inn, a very adequate hotel a couple of blocks away,
is charging $139. New York
Painfully hip boutique hotels used to seem like a fad, but they’ve spread and spread. Over the past few years, they have gone mass. Starwood has planted large, boutiquey W hotels on five continents. Hyatt has Andaz. And as Brooks Barnes reported in The Times’s most recent Sunday Business section, Marriott is creating a chain of mass boutiques, called Edition. When Marriott enters the boutique business, everybody has entered the boutique business.
The column goes on to thoroughly discuss boutique hotels, uniquely in a way that brings no new knowledge or insight to the reader. It’s as though Mr. Brooks having nothing to say decided to say nothing about a topic that reeks of nothingness. No we don’t know why the NYT publishes this tripe either.