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The Curtain Hotel Review – Shoreditch, London

The last few times I’ve been to London, I always seem to be drawn to Shoreditch although I’ve never actually stayed the night there.

We were invited to an event with Sainsburys as part of their Taste Maker project recently, which happened to be taking place in Shoreditch. So we thought we would make a weekend of it and spend the evening at one of the areas endless supply of uber trendy hotels.

After a bit of searching, we came across The Curtain. The other half always insists on a pool when staying anywhere but London being so bloody expensive per square meter, not many hotels offer them. The Curtain however had a cool little rooftop pool. Now that’s something you don’t get everyday in London, so we snapped it straight up.

 

 

The hotel also had its own nightclub, rooftop bar and terrace, private members club, gym and fried chicken restaurant too – you really didn’t have to leave the 4 walls. We wondered why there was a huge queue down the street the day of checkout too. Turns out Little Mix were performing in the onsite club that afternoon.

The Rooms

Me in bed at The Curtain Hotel Shoreditch - London

 

I usually end up booking hotels through comparison sites, as you can usually get a better deal but the Curtain website had a few offers on, that seemed to trump anything else I could find. Ok so the suite’s were a little out of our budget but we ended up upgrading from the basic room to a City Room with breakfast and a bottle of bubbly in the room for around £250.

The rooms are not massive by any stretch of the imagination, but this is London after all. It certainly wasn’t the smallest room either and I thought the space was just right for what we needed for a single night. The bed was pretty big to be fair and so comfortable.

I loved the decor of the room – gold, dark green with little touches such as the Marshall radio, minibar trolley with some pretty decent selections of spirits in half bottles from East London Liquor Company Gin to Lagauvlin 16 year old whisky. Ok so you had to pay for them, but they beat the standard mini bottles of Gordon’s gin and Bells Whisky and probably worked out a lot cheaper if you were planning on sinking a few in the room.

We had our bottle of champagne chilling on ice ready for us too, which was a nice touch. I’d heard that in the evening a trolley comes around making martini’s for guests but we were in and out in the evening so missed it.

We each had robes and slippers in the room, which were handy for travelling between the room and the rooftop pool or just chucking on after falling asleep in the very spacious steam shower in the room. The toiletries smelt lush too.

The Rooftop Pool

You wouldn’t get any Olympic athletes practicing their lengths in the rooftop pool as it wasn’t the biggest but I just like being in the water and not bothered about breaking much of a sweat after a night on the beer anyway. It was March with a bitterly wind but we were adamant we were going to use the pool before breakfast.

The hotel is nowhere near the height of the Shard so you don’t get breathtaking views on your morning swim in 5C but at 6 stories, you do get to peer over a number of neighboroughing buildings. There’s quite a lot of development going on in Shoreditch, especially the couple of building’s near the hotel so it could get quite entombed in the near future, but I enjoyed our brief trip into the water.

 

 

One thing that was quite annoying was you had to go through the terrace bar, which also hosted breakfast, to get into the outside pool area in our swimwear and gowns. It’s a shame there wasn’t a side entrance just before coming into the breakfast area.

In the evening the terrace room turns into a bar, serving up cocktails till just after 10pm. I actually remember walking past the building last December not knowing it was a hotel. There seemed to be a party going on, with little white garden lights glowing in the winter chill. Unfortunately we didn’t get back from the event till late, so we didn’t end up making it onto the terrace bar for a drink.

We took our towels from our room to the pool but there’s no need, as you can pick one up from the counter up there but I’d take your bath robe. especially if it’s in March like us.

The Breakfast

Breakfast wasn’t offered to all guests as standard but we had it in our package. The Curtain also allowed non patrons of the hotel to dine for breakfast too, with a choice of continental, full English or other standard numbers with avo and eggs.

The complimentary breakfast included both continental and a hot food choice. I opted for the full English as standard, then hit the continental hard to line the stomach for a day on the beers as it happened to be the final weekend of the 6 Nations. You know, that one where we (Wales) won the grand slam…again.

 

 

The breakfast was excellent, I’ll give them that. A choice of cheese, freshly baked breads and pastries and the cured meats were epic. None of that laser cut 90% water ham, this was thick cut proper charcuterie. Probably the best i’ve had at a hotel breakfast. There was plenty of fresh fruits, a selection of yogurts, milks for all tolerances to go with your cereals too.

The full English was a very good example of a cooked breakfast too. Thick cut bacon, tasty sausages, runny eggs and the black pudding was cooked just how it should be.

I obviously had a Bloody Mary to sip on with my breakfast.

 

Me having a breakfast cocktail at The Curtain Shoreditch - London

 

The Verdict

I loved our stay at The Curtain and would definitely go back. The room was lush and the steam shower was epic.

First class breakfast and great to be able to do a few breast strokes pre-breakfast to make room for more of the buffet items.

The gym looked pretty well stocked and I’m gutted we didn’t have time to check out the rooftop terrace at night. The Bloody Mary I had up there for breakfast we pretty good though.

Contact Details

The Curtain Hotel
45 Curtain Road
Shoreditch
London
EC2A 3PT

www.thecurtain.com

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Nobu Hotel Shoreditch Review

Being obsessed with Japan and dreaming of a trip there in the near future, we thought we would have a taste of Japan on home turf for our trip to London last weekend. We decided to book a night at Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch.

If you’re not familiar with Nobu, they started life as a Japanese restaurant in Hollywood in 1994 and it’s joint venture between Robert De Nero and Japanese Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa. The Shoreditch Nobu Hotel was the first hotel in Europe from the successful chain of restaurants. They already have two restaurants in London, so the hotel was the next obvious choice.

We actually passed the hotel, the last time we were up in Shoreditch staying at the Curtain and said we would love to go back and check out the Nobu Hotel.

The Hotel

The facade strikes a very impressive pose, with it’s fusion of modern architecture but based on the traditional Japanese detailing. The front of the building, with it’s glass and minimalist black facade is transformed into an industrial feel at the side of the hotel, with exposed concrete and overhanging steel beams showing a building of two halves. It’s got a Samurai feel going on for sure.

 

Nobu Hotel Shoreditch Bar

 

The interior again gives a nod to traditional Japanese living, with the wooden structures and panelling especially in the underbelly of the venue, where the restaurant and bar are situated. There’s modern touches of gold and contemporary lighting throughout, to marry the two traditions together.

 

Hanamai Garden Terrace - Nobu Shoreditch Hotel

A Hanamai inspired terrace garden, used to showcase the bar and drinks along with the choice of having a Japanese inspired afternoon tea. The terrace also hosts collaborations with the hotel and more recently Suntory Whisky, with a Japanese twist on some classic cocktails using Japan’s oldest whisky distillery.

The rooms are what sold us, with the stripped back look, bare concrete ceilings, sliding panels, black panelling and a fluttering of gold, to add a touch of colour. I’ve got a little bored of traditional styling, which some of the more established higher end hotels seem to favour.

There was no swimming pool at the hotel, much to Llio’s satisfaction. They did have a fully equipped gym, steam room and spa treatments should you feel the need to break a sweat or have last night’s alcohol squeezed out of you. We didn’t get a chance to check these out due to our tight timescales.

The Rooms

We went for a superior room with breakfast and with my works discount, managed to get 10% off bringing the price down to around £240. Check in isn’t normally till 3pm and we arrived at the hotel at 12.30 to see if we could drop our bags.

 

Bedroom at Nobu Shoreditch Hotel

 

Luckily for us they had a room free already. Not our designated room but an accessible room. We could have waited for ours to be ready or just take this and dump our bags, to get on with some exploring. Accessible rooms tend to have a bit more space so we decided to take it. The only difference they said was we got a wet room with a few handles dotted around to help those with wheelchairs.

Instead of the standard key cards, you get a plastic key to open just like with the card by tapping the sensor on the door, but you insert into the pad in the room to give you your lights and power.

 

 

 

Nothing was on display letting you properly get into your zen mode and relax All the mod cons such as the huge tv were hidden behind golden doors, which also contained a well stocked mini bar with champagne, some really good Japanese drinks such as Hitachino. The prices were extortionate though, even for london at £9 for a bottle of beer!

There was a drawer filled with a few handy pick me up’s and toiletries should you have forgotten them but again, with a hefty margin added on top. You got your standard shower gels, shampoo, slippers and sewing kit, Japanese tea’s for free though.

I emailed the hotel prior to arriving, to say it was my partners birthday, so we were heading to London to celebrate (Well it’s 2 weeks away, but she’s away working and this will probably the last chance we get so not entirely a white lie). and they left a card, some chocolates and a happy birthday written in chocolate on a plate, which I thought was a lovely touch. The staff were all so lush too, making sure to say happy birthday and couldn’t do enough at reception.

The beds were so comfy, with big soft pillows that seemed to swallow you up. The only thing we could complain about with the room was the air conditioning, which even on the lowest temperature of 18C and the highest setting of the fan, it was way too warm. I worked out that the mirror in the bathroom was boiling hot to stop it steaming up and I don’t know if it was that warming the whole place up.

There were ample amounts of plugs and the addition of usb plugs next to the beds was very handy.

Food

We didn’t dine at the restaurant for lunch or dinner, but I’ve heard the brunch they do on Saturday’s are legendary. For around £45 you get to eat as much sushi and Japanese patisseries including macarons as you like.

 

Restaurant at Nobu Shoreditch Hotel

 

This is high end Japanese cooking and sushi. Nobu have 30 restaurants around the world in some very affluent places such as Mayfair in London so it’s not your bog standard Yo!

 

Breakfast menu at Nobu Hotel Shoreditch

 

Our package included breakfast, although I was surprised when it only included the continental and not the standard fry up option too. For non breakfast bookings or if you just wanted to eat there without staying, the continental is priced at £18 and includes:

  • Choice of tea or coffee
  • Cured meats and cheese
  • Pickles
  • Slices of smoked salmon
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Pastries
  • Cereals
  • Selection of fresh breads
  • Jams and marmalades
  • Yogurt
  • Roasted tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Juices
  • Fresh fruit

 

Buffet breakfast at Nobu Hotel Shoreditch

 

To be fair, you could have filled up on what was on offer, but reading the a la carte menu and their Japanese twist on the Full English, I just couldn’t pass up the offer.

The “Nobu Style” Full English was priced at £14 and consisted of:

  • Ginger Pig back and streaky bacon,
  • Japanese Kurobuta sausage
  • Shitake
  • Onion confit
  • Cherry tomato
  • Two eggs of your choice,
  • Crispy black pudding

 

Nobu Style Full English Breakfast - Nobu Hotel Shoreditch

 

I wasn’t even that hungry to be honest, but when in holiday mode I was not going to miss out on a twist to the standard full English and am I glad i did. This was probably top of favourite fried breakfasts of all time.

It was great to have two types of bacon, as everyone knows I’m a bacon whore and they were from Ginger Pigs who have a butchers in Hackney, so keeping it local. Everything on the plate just packed an umami punch from the shitake, the onion confit adding a lick of savouriness to the rest of the dish and just swamping up the oozing juices from all the meaty items on the plate. It would have made an epic stock to any noodle dish too.

I don’t know what the hell they did to the tomatoes but they were insane. I don’t know how something so small could pack so much flavour. They must have poached them in soy or miso to get the hot, juicy, sweet yet salty flavour bomb. How could I forget the fried, crispy balls of black pudding too. I doused the perfectly fried eggs in some shichimi togarashi for a lick kick of heat too.

There were a few other Japanese inspired breakfast items too such as

Matsuhisa Benedict with crispy tofu, spinach, dorset crab, shiso bearnaise, salmon egg for £13

or

Scrambled Egg Donburi with salmon, steamed rice, nori, sesame, soy, salmon eggs, soy salt for £14

The Verdict

I did enjoy the hotel and I would recommend it. The breakfast was out of this world, even if I had to pay again for a fried option.

The hotel looked amazing and so striking from the outside with the industrial meats Japanese Palace look. Some areas were needing a bit of tlc though, as Llio kept pointing out such as the gold had worn away in the sink leaving a white undercoat, cracked glass mirrors in the lift and a few other things but not massively noticeable.

The staff were lovely, especially on reception. Very friendly and helpful.

We both agreed that we enjoyed it but still preferred the curtain. Might have been the pool or the fact that you had continental and full English or it could have been a multitude of the little things that added up. Saying that I would recommend a night there if you’re looking in the area.

It’s about 5 minutes walk from Old Street Station and around 30 minutes from Paddington by tube. We were pressed for time heading back on Saturday and opted for a taxi, so we didn’t have to lug our bags to the underground, carry them up the steps and change over platforms. It cost us £19 using Uber to get to Paddington. Bare in mind Saturday evening around 7pm is manic on the roads so give yourself plenty of time in the taxi, if you pick that option.

Dukes Hotel Review – Mayfair, London

I only became aware of Dukes Hotel recently from following The East India Company Gin page on Instagram, after seeing they were doing an afternoon tea with mini Mar-tea-ni’s at the hotel.

I was in the process of pairing up a 5 course Indian food tasting menu with gin’s myself as part of Cardiff Gin Club for The Purple Poppadom Spirit menu they’ve recently launched, so I was intrigued to see what they were doing with the menu.

It was only after this that I did a bit more reading about Dukes Hotel, that I learned about the history of the historic building that had played host to many famous faces throughout it’s 110 years of being. These included Winston Churchill, whose blue plaque I also happened to notice next door to Dukes, where he was born and lived for his first few years on this earth. The other notable figure to favour the little gem of a bar nestled in a quiet side street adjacent to St James Park and just around the corner from the Ritz Hotel was the original bond author Ian Fleming.

Winston Churchills Old House

You see, Fleming was a fan of Dukes and it’s now famous Dukes Bar for it’s specialty, which happened to be the classic Martini cocktail. Can you see the connection? Yes, Dukes is noted as being the main influence behind James Bonds’ insatiable appetite for the gin laced cocktail.

Well I love a good Martini and where better to try them than the venue that gave way to the most famous Martini fan the world has ever seen. It so happened that the most spectacular festival to hit the shores of Britain was due to take place on the weekend of 1st September, “Meatopia” at Tobacco Dock. A three day celebration of the ultimate summer get together, The BBQ. With 20 of the best pit masters and meat smoking magicians on the planet driven, flown and shipped under one sun drenched canal side location in London’s historic docklands each day to show people how to really appreciate our four legged farm friends.

I thought why not kill two birds with one stone as I’d wanted to attend the festival for about three years now so I booked two tickets for the festival followed by a luxurious stay at the London hotel, which is just a short stroll from Queen Liz herself at Buckingham Palace. Whilst I was at it I also thought I’d throw in a booking for lunch the following day at the Michelin starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana in Mayfair, just because.

The Hotel

The hotel is not much more than a mile from London Victoria, so it’s quite a nice walk up the mall especially during the change of the guards if you arrive around that time. Sadly we were pushed for time with the thought of smoked, caramelised 70 day salt aged beef flying off the bbq and running out by the time we go to Meatopia so we grabbed a taxi to the door, which cost us around £8.

Outside Dukes Hotel London

Turning down the street just after The Ritz and taking a small opening in the road to the left, you could walk past and not even realise this little jewel of a hotel existed. You soon know it’s there though with it’s own little courtyard, shielded by buildings on either side with the British flag draping down outside the door and beautifully constructed and preserved Victorian Facade to welcome you into the quintessentially British luxury hotel.

Checking isn’t usually until around 3ish at most hotels so instead of lugging our overnight bags around London, we thought we would see if they would keep them until check-in as it was only 11.55am. Luckily for us the room was free and they let us check in there an then after reception gave us a guided tour of the facilities and our room.

Hotel Facilities included:

  • Steam room and fitness suite (unfortunately we didn’t have time to use these)
  • GBR restaurant and bar open from 7am for breakfast till late evening for dinner.
  • Meeting suites
  • Drawing room used for afternoon teas
  • Cognac and cigar terrace (Open 8pm)
  • Outside seating at the front of hotel for smokers or catching up on emails
  • The Famous Dukes Bar serving the best Martini’s in London

Onto our rooms. We only ordered the standard room as the price for some of the more luxurious rooms started around £500+ per night.

The standard rooms weren’t the largest I’ve stayed in but for the central location in Mayfair, it had everything we needed and more. I’ve stayed in a lot smaller rooms in Cardiff too.

Dukes Hotel London Reception

The specifics

  • The bed was a decent size and so comfortable, I had one of the best nights sleep in ages
  • Robe and slippers in the roomDesk side mobile phone allowing free calls to anywhere in the world that can be taken around the building and outside to receive internet connection
  • Fridge with 4 bottles of water. It wasn’t stocked with a minibar as we were told they are in the processes of changing the contents and menu
  • TV with internet
  • Security safe
  • Large bathroom with luxury toiletries
  • Combined bath and the most powerful shower I’ve ever stood in

After checking in and offloading our bags to head to Tobacco Dock we took the advice of reception to book a table at Dukes Bar as we were told it gets really busy on weekends and they like to offer preference to guests to the hotel. We booked ourselves in for 9pm to give ourselves time to get back from the festival and freshen up.

Getting Around

The hotel reception were very friendly and offered to make arrangements for taxis if you need one but as we were heading a few miles away it worked out cheaper to get the underground. The closes underground station to Dukes Hotel is Green Park on the Jubilee, Victoria and Piccadilly line so you can pretty much get to anywhere you need without too many changes.

As the hotel is quite central we decided to head out on foot the morning of our stay after leaving our bags with the hotel. It was less than 10 minutes to Gymkhana in Mayfair, where we went for a delicious 6 course tasting menu for lunch.

It’s also less than 10 minutes walk to the Ritz if you fancy something a bit more extravagant for lunch or you can do what we did and picked up a load of nibbles at Fortnum and Masons for the journey back.

Food and Drinks

Breakfast

As we were going to a food festival and had already booked lunch the following day for 12 o clock we skipped breakfast as it wasn’t in with the room. You can add it to your booking for £24 each for a full English, pastries, tea and juice or there are a number of smaller options from £6 for something lighter, which are all served in the basement GBR restaurant.

Afternoon Tea

We were hoping to grab a cup of tea sourced from my favourite tea importers The East India Company in the Drawing Room but sadly they had stopped serving afternoon tea and there wasn’t anyone taking orders when we popped in for a look.

The room was beautifully decorated though and would be a lovely spot to sample the afternoon tea that also has the option to include mini Mar-tea-ni’s using The East India Company Gin, which is how i’d found out about the hotel in the first place.

East India Company Gin Martini with Dukes London Afternoon Tea

The receptionist also informed us during our tour of the hotel that the late Lady Dianna was a regular at the hotel and would come in for tea in the Drawing Room. This is the reason they only have white flowers in the room and throughout the hotel as a tribute as they were her favourite.

We opted to head downstairs to the GBR restaurant for tea instead as they serve a selection of The East India Company Tea there all day too. I opted for a smokey GBR blend, which was a lovely change to my usual English Breakfast. The cost of two pots of tea was around £12 with the service charge of 12.5% automatically added to all orders, wherever you are in London.

Afternoon tea and East India Company teas at Dukes Hotel London

Dinner

Even though we didn’t eat at the GBR restaurant we did take a peek at the menu whilst having a pot of tea before we left.

There were only two dinning whilst we were there and the steaks brought out to them looked amazing. The menu featured a grazing menu with small and large portion of each. I was half tempted to have a burrata to nibble on with my tea.

GBR Restaurant at Dukes Hotel London

Dukes Bar

The dress code read smart casual and no sports footwear for Dukes Bar so I thought i’d put something half decent on for a change with some loafers, shirts and sports jacket.

The bar is very quaint and divided into two small areas by a dividing wall and the wooden paneled bar to the left hand side or the two. Dimly lit with a selection of two and four seat tables to choose. We were seated with two other tables but one left shortly after so we took theirs as it was under a bit more light.

The menu features a good selection of classic cocktails priced around £19 and the famous martini’s around £21.50.

Spirits came in double measures and ranged from £9.50 for Beefeater Gin up to around £15 for Kyoto Ki no bi Japanese Gin. I paid £8.50 for a single shot of Ki no bi with no mixer in Bootleggers in Cardiff not long back, so it wasn’t bad considering.

Gin menu at Dukes Bar London

Cocktail and martini menu at Dukes Bar London

Martini menu at Dukes Bar London

There were whiskies from some of the best distilling countries from a selection of Scotland from highlands to lowlands, Ireland, the US and Japan. What caught my eye was the now discontinued suntory Hibiki 17 year Japanese whisky. I’ve been hunting down a bottle for a while now as the price has spiked to over £900 a bottle online as the Japanese Whisky drought continues and has meant many aged expressions are no more.

The price on the menu didn’t reflect the shortage though as it was £27 for 50ml. Rude not to really.

Hibiki 17 Japanese Whisky at Dukes Bar London

Martini’s

There was none of the candyfloss, glitter or sickly sweet pre-mixed cordial bullshit going on with these bad boys. Pure alcohol lengthened with a splash of more alcohol, just as it should be.

I watched in awe as another guest asked for a dry Martini, to which the bartender shook a couple of dashes of homemade vermouth and i mean droplets from a bitters decanter and proceeded to top it up with the frozen gin of choice.

Dukes Bar martini trolley

The art of pouring the martini’s is like a ritual in itself here at Dukes with the orders taken by the bar tender, who then assembles the components of the crowning item on the menu, which are then wheeled over to the guests table and faultlessly constructed at the table.

As mentioned previously this is were bond got his love for the Martini here from his famous author Ian Fleming who was a regular at Dukes Bar. The vesper was also created here, which was Bond’s favourite martini with a mix of English Gin and Polish Vodka, Shaken not stirred of course.

Surprise, surprise I went all Japanese for my first drink with the Kissy Suzuki Martini featuring Ki no bi gin, Chase vodka, Clementi China liqueur and Griottine Cherry. The bottles came straight from the freezer and glistened with a sheen of ice on the trolley so no need to shake or stir with ice to cool it or for any unnecessary dilution. This was was the strongest martini to ever touch my lips, it was actual rocket fuel but it tasted divine

Kissy Suzuki martini at Dukes Bar London

I’d heard that head bartender Alessandro Palazzi served a maximum of two Martini’s to guests and now I can see why. Although £20.50 they don’t sound cheap, but when you factor in your probably getting close to 4 measures of alcohol per glass, that’s good going even at Cardiff prices for gin. It was all about the experience though as the bar has so much history and famous fans over the years.

The other half went for Martinez with Dictador Colombian Gin, Martini Ross, Maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, Griottine cherry and lemon twist. Also very potent, these were sippers for sure but sat nibbling on Japanese crackers and salty nuts taking in the ambiance I couldn’t think of anywhere better i’d want to spend a Sunday evening.

The Verdict

We both loved our stay at Dukes Hotel. The central location, the friendliness of the staff who couldn’t do enough and the hotel itself looked amazing from outside to inside with loads of character and history.

I loved the little stories about some of the past guests and you really felt like you were sitting in a piece of history sat sipping a Martini in the same bar former prime ministers, princesses, highly acclaimed authors and movie stars had done for over 100 years.

The hotel is worth the visit even if it’s just for a table at Dukes bar for a Martini and they really are worthy of the reverence.

It’s not going to be the cheapest hotel you can get in London but I’d say it’s my favourite so far and would go back in a heartbeat.

For the best deals on a stay at Dukes Hotel in London search on Trivago