Amar Lalvani is a busy man. The globe-trotting father of two oversees Standard International (the parent company of Standard Hotels), Bunkhouse Group (the Texas-based hotel chainlet that Standard now owns a majority stake in), and One Night, a last-minute hotel-booking site. To keep an eye on his hospitality empire, Lalvani jets across the country between properties in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, and travels around the world looking for new opportunities to expand the brand (London next year, who knows where next).
Here, Lalvani reveals his tips and tools for getting the most out of every day.
What’s your Off Switch?
A glass of Nikka Whiskey from the Barrel and a record on the turntable. I am lucky to live on the 60th floor of a building in lower Manhattan with a view of the whole island. At that height, the madness of the day fades and the city looks serene and beautiful. With the right lighting, music, and Japanese whisky, New York City transforms into a peaceful place.
What’s your On Switch?
What product are you currently in love with?
Empirical Spirits. Some great young chefs from Noma set out to create “freeform spirits”—spirits not bound to historical practices or traditional categories. They are not whiskeys or gins or vodkas. They are what they are, and can be called anything. It’s mind blowing to have a clear liquid with these incredible flavor profiles that you never knew existed. They make a savory one using habanero. It’s called Fuck Trump and His Stupid Fucking Wall.
Is there a service or tool you can’t live without?
I have been using [the on-demand home-services company] Hello Alfred since meeting [founder] Marcela Sapone at a conference. As a single father with two daughters and a crazy travel schedule, coming home to fresh flowers on the table, a stocked fridge, and made beds once a week is a gift I look forward to.
What classic product do you still use?
The turntable. Listening to music on it forces me to consider what to pick: to go through the ritual of taking the record out of its sleeve, putting it on, and listening to it how the artist intended. Not skipping from artist to artist or track to track as I do on Spotify (which I do love), forces one to remain in the moment.
What have you splurged on recently?
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 speaker. I have loved Bang & Olufsen products since I was a kid in the 80s: They looked like they belonged in an episode of Buck Rogers instead of in someone’s home. The A9’s physical design and genius skin covers are not something you want to hide, like you do most wireless speakers. In fact, it’s the opposite: They become an evolving work of art. And of course being B&O, the sound is crisp and precise.
Your daily soundtrack:
Waking up: “Thinking of a Place” by The War on Drugs
Driving: “Song for Zula” by Phosphorescent
Working out: “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
Hard at work: “This Must be the Place” by The Talking Heads
Psyching up: “Regulate” by Warren G
Mellowing out: Two because it’s my favorite time of day. “Life on Mars” by David Bowie or “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis
What travel tips do you swear by?
- Rohto Japanese eye drops. They sting like crazy for a few seconds, but they wake you up and make you feel fresh. They’re a must the moment your red-eye lands.
- A Lord Jones CBD Gumdrop upon takeoff. They make your flight mellower and [help you] sleep a lot better, and they’re all-natural and better than a sleeping pill. I liked the product so much we did a Standard x Lord Jones collaboration: a blood orange gumdrop that we put in all our minibars.
- Rimowa. The lightest, sturdiest luggage that fits a ton for its size and still fits in the overhead. The hard shell somehow even expands if you wind up buying gifts on your travels. I have had the same suitcase for more than 10 years and 1 million miles.
- James Perse travel pants and Craig Green travel jacket. I might as well be wearing pajamas—but no one would know it. I can get straight off the plane and head to a meeting or an evening out.
- The Cathay Pacific noodle bar lounge at the Hong Kong airport has the best airport food in the world. If you have an option on where to connect in Asia, this should sway you.
Where do you go to retreat and recharge?
Turkbuku is a beautiful little bay, one of 14 different ones, on Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula. It has crystal blue water and the perfectly odd mix of stray dogs roaming the streets, roosters crowing in the morning, fisherman bringing in their catch, and mega yachts pulling into the bay. It’s still a fishing village at heart. It’s been discovered by the jet set, but somehow has managed to retain its charm. A friend of mine owns a hotel there called Macakizi, which is my favorite non Standard or Bunkhouse hotel. My mother lives in the town, too, which is a huge bonus.
What do you do when you have . . .
A free five minutes: Check the headlines on Twitter, which is almost never a good idea,
An hour: Read the Sunday New York Times
A free day: Ride my bike across the Brooklyn Bridge to Red Hook. It feels like a total escape from the city: a little urban oasis with an interesting creative community.
What are your favorite foods for . . .
A burst of energy: An RX Bar.
A quick takeout lunch: I stay away from takeout lunches. I will either have a power bar or take my time and enjoy something.
A night out: Omakase-style sushi. After making decisions all day, it’s a great pleasure to have someone make the decisions for you.
What five books are on your nightstand?
- The Soul of America by John Meacham. I’m trying to understand our history at this pivotal moment in our country, to figure out what is happening and why.
- Hippie by Paulo Coelho. He’s lived an interesting life and is a wise man. I am also fascinated by the 1970s, which is when I was born. I think I would have made a good hippie.
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I just adore his way of writing and, in particular, his male characters and their tortured relationships to the world around them. And I am endlessly fascinated by Tokyo and its nuances. It’s a treat to see them through the eyes of someone who knows the city so well.
- So This Is Permanence by Ian Curtis. A reminder of the intensity and passion life can have when fully felt. Joy Division kicked off a whole genre of music that I grew up loving—all that before Ian committed suicide at age 23.
- The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. I have a copy with underlinings and notes by my mother. I have read the book at least 10 times. [It’s full of] simple, timeless, useful advice, especially the chapter on parenting.
What’s your necessary vice?
Hardball with Chris Matthews
Which app do you look at:
Once a day: Goat, which is a brilliantly designed sneaker marketplace.
Once an hour: Twitter, which I really should stop doing,
Far too often: Instagram, which my girlfriend hates me looking at.