Press stay – I was generously hosted at Nobu Hotel Shoreditch in exchange for a review on my blog
The minimally-designed Nobu Hotel Shoreditch offers a pocket of calm and tranquility amidst the hustle, bustle, noise and graffitied walls of east London. Last weekend I enjoyed an indulgent staycation at the newly opened 5-star hotel to check out the design, architecture and everything the spaces have to offer (easing myself back into reality after the holidays in style wasn’t I, ha!).
If you like considered Japanese design, understated luxury and urban escapes, then this one’s for you.
Tucked away on a quiet back street behind Old Street roundabout, right next to Shoreditch’s creative design triangle, Nobu Hotel Shoreditch offers 148 bedrooms and suites in an elegant, contemporary setting. Conceived by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, it attempts to fuse sleek, simple design with the grittiness of east London.
An expansion of the famous Mayfair restaurant of the same name, this is a high-end offering – one which could have easily slotted seamlessly into glamorous west London – but somehow the board-marked concrete walls, charred black wood and pared-back decor fit with the rich texture of this ever-evolving area of London. And the room prices aren’t bad at all, starting at £195 for a deluxe room with a king-size bed.
The building itself was designed by Ron Arad Associates and Ben Adams Architects. The uniform concrete and glass facade that runs along Willow Street deconstructs into a dramatic composition of sharp angles and frayed lines at its east end, as if a section of the building had been unceremoniously sliced off and slumped underground to form the triple-height courtyard below street level. Generous, glass balconies cantilever into space, while black steel sections project out.
Conceived by Studio Mica and Studio PCH, the bedrooms are simply designed with concrete ceilings and brass details. They feel luxurious but not overly so – there’s a shiny gold sink in the bathroom, for instance, but it doesn’t look too bling because everything else in the bathroom is pared-back and plain white.
Two clever Japanese-inspired screens – one a mural and one slatted to provide privacy – can be slid across the floor-to-ceiling window of the bedroom to block out light. The headboard of the bed has a rich, woven pattern to it, while a golden media cabinet conceals the television and minibar. Crisp white linen and adaptable task lighting (and USB plugs hurrah!) either side of the bed ticked all the boxes.
We stayed in a premium room (seen below – from £245), which felt really generous in size, with a large sofa and small table and chairs. The bed was one of the comfiest I’ve slept in and little luxuries like the provision of a dressing gown and slippers make it feel like a home away from home. A Japanese teapot was a lovely addition to the room, but the coffee drinker in me would have liked to have seen some coffee making facilities too.
Breakfast in bed was one of the highlights; they have twists on the classics such as a full English, as well as Asian-inspired plates like matcha waffles, scrambled egg donburi, miso muffins, and soy caramelised bananas and French toast. We could have ordered the whole menu.
If you can bear to tear yourself away from the bedrooms, then spend some time in the cafe, bar and restaurant. Or if you just find yourself passing through the area, stop by for a coffee (for connoisseurs they have London’s only Kinto hand-brew Japanese filter-coffee).
I became fascinated by the textures in the communal spaces – there’s one wall made entirely of roof tiles, shoji screens to divide off rooms and charred black planks of wood leading down to the restaurant, created using the ancient Japanese art of Shou Sugi Ban. It’s a feast for the senses.
In the lower two levels you’ll find the restaurant and bar, with a huge outdoor courtyard that looks up to the sky. The space was buzzing on a Saturday night, the cocktails flowing aplenty. If you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter, I’d probably go during the week.
We sampled a seven-course Omakase menu, tucking into yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño and black miso cod among other dishes – delicious! There’s small, cosy booths if you want an intimate setting for date night, and large round tables for when you’re out with friends.
It was a really special, unique experience staying at Nobu Hotel Shoreditch and after a Sake class, learning about the history and culture of the country, I can’t wait to travel to Japan for the first time. It’s right at the top of my list and Nobu Hotel Shoreditch felt like a little taster.
All images Cate St Hill