Creative and community-minded hotels pioneered by the likes of Soho House have become havens for the curious, conscious and continual traveller, says travel writer Julia Freemantle.
The idea of global nomadism has revolutionised the way we travel. Around this newfound flexibility and more fluid concept of how we view moving around and through the world has also grown a consciousness about embedding culture and creativity into travel. Immersing ourselves in every place we go, not only through the experience it offers, but the communities that exist around these experiences.
Hotel groups that build this celebration of culture into their ethos, and who encourage not only long stays, but long-term relationships with their brands, while foregrounding the arts, are pulling towards them travellers who not only expect superb hospitality standards, but also want a more in-depth experience, and to feel like they’re part of a bigger, cosmopolitan community.
The original connector A veritable pioneer of the concept of a global creative community, Soho House has outposts in 16 countries that encourage the gathering and meeting of like minds. With the majority in the UK, its country of origin and closely followed by North America, everyone is mindful of and a nod to its location, but all are connected by a desire to provide a home base for its members, the underlying purpose of each being to bring together creative people, and foster connection and collaboration. So that whether you’re travelling to Tel Aviv, Rome or Mexico City, there’s a sense of familiarity to anchor you.
Such is the strength of this notion and the community around it, that Soho House has developed its own interiors collection, skincare range and even a design arm (which is responsible for all Soho House creative direction) that all speak to its ethos. The personality of each house is cued by context and location (the city and country, but also the buildings themselves) and features the work of local craftsman and creatives, while still being recognisably Soho House.
Different membership types (Soho House and Soho Works) provide creative spaces to work from, have fun and relax. But in order to grow its community and to gather in those who live in locations without a local ‘house’, the brand took a step further and formed Cities Without Houses. This innovative membership option – with representation in 80 cities around the world – serves as a bridge for creatives who travel and allows them access to Global Houses when they travel, as well as a creative community events in their own cities. A veritable house (home) away from home.
London leading the way
London, as one of the world’s popular tourism destinations, embodies the zeitgeist and exemplifies this movement, and is brimming with hotels that combine vibrant cultural programmes with design-forward spaces and cutting-edge culinary offerings.
NoMad London: international relations
The first NoMad Hotel outside the US, NoMad London – which just placed on The World’s 50 Best Hotels inaugural list – is located in the Grade II-listed former Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and police station in Covent Garden. In conceiving it, The Sydell Group, known for transforming historic buildings into meaningful hospitality experiences, drew on context as well as the cultural connection between London and New York.
Designed in collaboration with New York-based Roman and Williams, NoMad’s playful spirit comes through across its 91 rooms and suites and communal areas with a sensibility that bridges classic design and modern luxury. A veritable gallery too, the hotel’s art collection spans over 1 600 collected and commissioned works. While a cutting-edge wellness programme in partnership with Ricari Studios and Katie England takes place, uniquely, in the former womens’ cells of the police station.
An array of culinary venues caters to varying tastes: Common Decency serves world-class cocktails in the former Police Station where Oscar Wilde was once held; NoMad Restaurant is a lush greenhouse-inspired atrium and Side Hustle a vibrant and easygoing Latin American themed eatery. Across the food and design, the NoMad allows you to have a foot in different worlds – and eras – and experience the best of all of them.
Ember Locke: room to move
Having built its brand around liveability and creativity, and demonstrating the growing popularity of the aparthotel concept, Locke has opened its sixth London property – Ember Locke – in West London, close to the Natural History Museum, the V&A, the Science Museum and the Design Museum.
Each Locke hotel celebrates the character of its location, of which there are 14 across the UK and Europe, expressed through bold and soulful spaces and locally led cultural programmes. Designed in collaboration by Atelier Ochre and House of Dré, the scheme draws on the spirit of mid-century fashion brand Biba, born in Kensington’s fashion scene in the 1960s, via warm tones, bohemian motifs and Art Deco references, offset by contemporary artwork. Ember Locke’s 121 apartments range from studios to duplex one-beds designed around flexibility and to offer maximum autonomy to guests via spaces that offer cooking, eating, work and living facilities.
This is complemented by a multifaceted communal offering – the lobby and common areas lead onto a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, small stage for live performances, co-working space, meeting room, and garden. Additional facilities include a gym and laundry room, allowing guests to seamlessly continue their usual routines while enjoying a change of scene.
One Hundred Shoreditch: the cool crowd
One Hundred Shoreditch, the new offering from Lore Group, was designed by Creative Director Jacu Strauss to reflect the evolution of the area over the last decade – from gritty urban neighbourhood to thriving cultural and culinary district. The clean, calm design of the 258 rooms offers peaceful respite from the busy streets below. Light tones are offset by accents of colour via contemporary art, and a curated mix of vintage and bespoke pieces lend character.
The modern minimalism of the rooms is intended to reflect the area’s growing sophistication, which is countered by vibrant communal spaces that acknowledge the neighbourhood’s youthful and social energy. One Hundred Shoreditch offers a few different spaces to dine and drink. In the basement, the Seed Library is a laid-back bar where the drinks are designed around heritage ingredients. The Rooftop is a lush, blush-tinted deck with a panorama of East London, while The Lobby Bar acts as the hotel’s living room – a comfortable cosy space to pull up a chair. The ultimate hybrid work/play venue, One Hundred Shoreditch is also home to five meeting and events spaces suitable for any occasions, with the largest surrounded by floor to ceiling glass and spectacular views of the skyline.