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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
- Slices of smoked salmon
- Scrambled eggs
- Selection of fresh breads
- Jams and marmalades
- Roasted tomatoes
- Fresh fruit
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
- Onion confit
- Cherry tomato
- Two eggs of your choice,
- Crispy black pudding
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
Scrambled Egg Donburi with salmon, steamed rice, nori, sesame, soy, salmon eggs, soy salt for £14
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.