A riot of colours, irreverent nods towards the royal family and rainbow-hued hotel-room doors (inspired by Notting Hill’s houses) – nhow London harnesses all the joy and quirks of British culture.
A short walk from Angel or Old Street tube stations, the hotel is found on the fringes of Shoreditch. Entering the lobby space from the urban sprawl is like peering into a kaleidoscope. The open-plan space has a warehouse feel, with its vast space and high ceilings. It is filled with mismatched groups of chairs and sofas, covered in House of Hackney fabrics, graphic printed rugs and oversized pop art adorning the walls. At its heart is a neon yellow bar, ideal for late-night cocktails, which merges into the all-day eaterie.
The design by interior architects Project Orange has fun and optimism at its heart. Having opened just before the pandemic, its ‘reinvention’ of the modern hotel offers a ‘hyper-real’ vibe which feels thoroughly ‘of the moment’. In the lobby, there’s a 30ft Big Ben sculpture, which comes in the guise of a rocket-ship, restaurant tables are printed with rhyming slang and oversized gold lights, which give a nod to the city’s church bells, hang above the public spaces.
After check-in (there’s a robot who can assist you if the staff are busy), take the lift to the eighth floor and to the penthouse. It’s the ultimate place to experience it all at full-throttle pace. Here, punk meets a 70s theme, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek nods given over to the monarchy. Robes are emblazoned with ‘Queen’ and ‘King’; towels have crowns embroidered on them and basins in the marble bathroom are gleaming gold.
Project Orange’s ‘London reloaded’ vibe feels fresh, young and bold. The penthouse is a large space with its own hallway, dining and living room, and bedroom. Here, your views are over London roofs – and it feels like the perfect spot to hang out if you are enjoying a weekend in the capital. Green shag-pile carpet, botanical artwork and a floral wall mural also add an ‘outdoors-in’, and somewhat whimsical feel, which is sharpened up with contemporary concrete ceilings, industrial lighting and unconventional portraits of royals.
What’s more, a touch of luxury comes with crisp bed-linen, soft towels and well-thought out tech (there are plenty of USB sockets near the bed and the lighting – often overly-complicated in new hotels – is super-easy to use).
Meanwhile, downstairs, the Bell & Whistle restaurant offers a play on a traditional British pub. The contemporary British menu – think: Wye Valley Green Asparagus with wild garlic dressing; London Fish and Chips and Pan-Fried Spring Lamb Rump – is the perfect contrast to the avant-garde design. Changing LED images appear on the restaurant’s central pillar, teal banquettes are mixed with lime wooden chairs and everywhere you look there’s art and sculpture to keep you entertained. It’s a relaxed, laid-back space – perfect for a quick bite to eat while on the go.
Nhow Hotels are on the ‘up’ at the moment, with the group having some 350 addresses across Europe and the USA. Taking inspiration from the cities in which the hotels are located, the brand has called upon some of the most creative designers of the moment to conjure up the interiors of the hotels, such as Foster+Partners, OMA (founded by Rem Koolhaas), Karim Rashid, Sergei Tchoban and Matteo Thun, among others.
“nhow is both a hotel and an explosion of inventiveness occupying one single space and offering a version of tourism that differs from elsewhere,” says the brand. “We want to offer an explosion of creativity concentrated in one place. Everything in a nhow hotel is unexpected. Iconic, inspirational and surprising.”
At the London hotel, this is playing out with its reactive take on new ways in which we want to live and travel post-pandemic. As a result, there are affordable co-working packages, in which you can use a ‘hot desk’ for eight hours (with a hot drink, sandwich lunch and water) for just £15.99. If you wanted to use one of the private meeting rooms – called ‘Labs’ here – you can hire one for £240 for a full day, or £60 for two hours.
Similarly, nhow London has also captured the nation’s love of dogs with its new Dog Afternoon Tea, including a dog-friendly-stay, which is a collaboration with Pooch & Mutt and Whiskey’s Grooming. It’s the very essence of great Britishness.