Do boutiques mix with business?
By Barney Gimbel, Fortune writer-reporter

(Fortune Magazine) -- Ever since Ian Schrager pioneered the "boutique hotel" in the mid-'80s, this species has been a riddle for business travelers. On the one hand, a hip little hotel is infinitely cooler than the Marriott; on the other, who wants to feel as if they're staying at a nightclub? So recently I decided to put Manhattan's latest boutique -- Schrager's newly renovated Gramercy Park Hotel -- to the test. When you enter the glam lobby, it's clear that the place is "exclusive" (meaning the bars are reservation-only, the rooftop is a private club, and the hotel is sold out). As for the rooms? Let's just say Schrager didn't have working stiffs in mind when he designed the place. They're painted dark olive-green and dimly lit with one exposed bulb and a few scattered lamps, so reading required lots of squinting. Furthermore, there was no real desk and so few outlets that I had to charge my cellphone in the bathroom. The Gramercy is a beautiful hotel -- and presumably a great place to hit a roof party -- just don't expect to get much work done in your room.  Top of page