Where…‘Big Brother is watching you and guests should refrain from wearing corporate attire’
Shoreditch House, Hotel and Restaurant
Ebor St, London E1 6AW
Overall: 4.5 stars
Hotel Service: 5 stars
Amenities: 5 stars (Highlights include the Cowshed Spa & Rooftop Pool)
Rooms: 4 stars
Value for money: 4.5 stars
1 small room per night £265.00
Food 4 stars
Service: 4 stars
Atmosphere: 4.5 stars depending on who you sit next to
Value for money: 4 stars
‘You’re going far.’ Our Eurocrat single Hedge Fund Founder Friend sarcastically commented when we told him we were staycaying in East London for our 6th anniversary. He was clearly childless. It had been 8 months since the birth of Baby X and I was dying for some time away with Mr. C. Unfortunately, there are granny-nanny wars going on at the moment in Casa NHYM and we are unable to leave Nanny Y with our two yummy daughters for a whole week, so we have opted for an overnight London ‘staycation.’ We had previously stay-cay’d at the Berkeley Hotel after M’s birth, but it was such a baby-blur that I don’t even remember going. After looking down a list of 5 star hotels and feeling rather underwhelmed, I had the brilliant idea of trying out the Shoreditch House Hotel, which is half the price of any 5 star hotel in London, and sounded perfect for our needs.
I received multiple confirmation emails for my room reservation, including the House Rules, which ended with this statement: ‘Finally, we foster a non-corporate atmosphere. To preserve this casual environment, hotel residents should refrain from wearing corporate attire and are also responsible for ensuring their guests abide by this rule.’ I had applied to be a Soho House member on various occasions, but like the British driving test, I failed at each and every attempt. But I am a writer! I dejectedly wanted to defend myself. Perhaps they had Big Brother cameras everywhere and knew that I was a NHYM and my husband was a ‘Suit’, and that I come from a long line of ‘Suits’ (The New York Soho House famously dis-membered 1,500 suits after its first year, which caused outrage in the Wall Street community).
Therefore, when I entered the lobby of Shoreditch House, I was intimidated but prepared for the looming ‘No Suits’ sign at the ‘lobby,’ slightly afraid that Big Brother knew that Mr. C would be coming straight from work in his ‘Suit’. Welcome to the Big Brother East London House. There are two separate receptions, one for the Members Club and one for the hotel as well as two separate elevators. I was welcomed by a super cool chick at the hotel reception, who could have been my new BFF if she’d let me, and was absolutely lovely. She showed me to my room and immediately sent up a bottle of Prosecco when I mentioned that it was our anniversary (Ok, so Prosecco’s not really my drink, but I can’t complain when it’s free).
The Room: S*x and the East End City
The room itself, although called a small room, didn’t feel too small unlike some city hotel rooms (ie. Tribeca Grand), and had a warm, ‘lived in country,’ Hamptons-white-shutters feel to it, not too fussy with clean, white lines. I was particularly impressed with the bed and thread count (nothing worse than going to a hotel with a hard bed and the linens giving you a midnight body scrub). I also liked the old school black telephone and the bathroom products, all from Cowshed Spa, which she told me to ‘use as much as you can while you’re here, but you’ll have to pay for them if you take them home, so lather up!’ Then, I saw in the multitudes of cotton buds, combs, toothbrushes and earplugs, a neat packet called ‘Condoms.’ It was as if someone was reading my mind and knew why I was here. How did they know that all I really needed was a room without the threat of a nuclear baby breakdown, a phone that probably didn’t work, a good bed, and some extra protection for some out-of-the-West-End-World s*x to get my mojo back? Big Brother was really watching.
The 5th floor Bar and House Kitchen: A lesson in East End Hipster Style
When Mr. C. got dressed for dinner with a white collared shirt and blue blazer, I hissed at him ‘You can’t wear that! They’ll kick us out!’ ‘What are you talking about? I am sure everyone will be in the Mayfair uniform here’. He responded. ‘Trust me, put on that Zadig & Voltaire skull & bones sweater and those ripped jeans and you’ll be fine.’ As we arrived in the 5th floor Bar, I was clearly right. They forgot to put in the reservations memo that all men should be wearing the hipster uniform: cropped hair with long beards, lumberjack shirts, skinnies, and black combat boots. I kicked myself thinking that I could have flown Mr. C over to Brooklyn for a quick beard-implant-make-over to play the part.
The 5th floor is huge and we went for a walk-around looking for a table to sit, first passing the bar area, then the ping pong tables (‘When did ping pong get trendy ?’ I asked Mr. C. ‘It’s been trendy for the past 5 years!’ I am feeling un-cooler by the minute), the delicious looking display of Mediterranean inspired food looked divine and the back lounge area was already all filled with more hipsters. We finally found a table in the bar area and were greeted by a waiter: ‘Do you have your membership card?’ he immediately asked Mr. C, who handed him our temporary card from the hotel and I turned to him ‘See, they know we don’t belong here!’ I am feeling overdressed with my IRO jacket and wearing Mayfair earrings that I am about to take off, when Mr.C tells me to get a grip, so I silently gulp my Green Machine instead, which is excellent (Kiwi, Banana, Mint and Spirulina), fascinated by the Hipster Scene.
The 6th floor Roof Terrace Restaurant: Who needs Christian Grey when you’ve got Daario Naharis?
I can finally breathe better on the 6th floor, which is more my style. We are seated in close quarters between two couples on either side. On my right is a mixed Indian/British couple in their late 40s, the man looks like a skinny version of Anish Kapoor (Has he been on a 5:2 diet? I wonder), the woman is British and both are lovely and smile to us as we arrive. On my left are two men who look like they are on their first date, slightly nervous and trying to impress the other. One is a good-looking, East End kind-of-guy, and across from him is a slightly uptight, trying-to-be-cool, American Jew. It was an odd combination, I thought to myself, until I realise who the street guy was – I kick Mr. C and un-subtely point at him. Mr. C is clueless when it comes to celeb spotting and this one is a hard one so I am very proud of myself. It’s Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones! (Not the current one played by Michel Huisman, but the original who I later find out is called Ed Skrein IRL. I only recognised him because we just finished Season 3 in preparation for the upcoming Season 4 on Sky). Daario aka Ed Skrein is steaming sexy in Game of Thrones with his long hair, bulging muscles and overbearing confidence and charisma, you could just imagine him throwing you over his shoulder and bringing you back to his lair before you could even say ‘Oh, Daarioooo!’ Here at Shoreditch, he fits the part with short, cropped hair, in East End Hipster Style, so it is his teeth I recognise. (I have a thing with teeth and can recognise people by their teeth alone. I know, weird but wonderful).
(courtesy of the internet)
As I am eating my delicious quinoa and sweet potato salad starter, I realise that this is going to be a dinner where Mr. C and I might as well not talk to each other because the conversation next door is so much more interesting than ours could ever be. This is man-to-man territory and an insight into what men really say to each other over dinner. Ed and his friend, whom we shall call L.A. (as he turns out to be his LA agent/lawyer, not sure which), start their conversation very sweetly by talking kids and wives and sharing photos of their 3 year old. I want to join the conversation and show pictures of M too and how cute she is but luckily stop myself. Then comes their interests; travel (L.A. recommends Brazil ‘the women are incredible there, you’ve got to go),’ which seamlessly drifts to football and the World Cup when Ed Skrein mentions his football team, Liverpool. ‘Is that Liverpool here in London or the Beatles Liverpool? Ed politely replies ‘Liverpool as in the Beatles Liverpool.’ ‘Well I know there is a Liverpool Street here and all’ L.A. naively and somewhat ignorantly comments. They talk about their similarities and their differences, where they grew up, both wanting to be musicians, Ed in North London, L.A. in South Florida among the retirement community. L.A. talked about desperately wanted to be a musician but his Jewish parents wouldn’t allow it, so he went to law school instead, like a good Jewish boy, before heading out West.
The talk from there went on to Ed’s future career and his current films. L.A. told Ed to prepare himself because his life was going to change drastically and that he was going to be a huge star. This was probably the script he spat out to every new, young, rising star (He mentioned how crazy Josh was at the Cannes Film Festival, I assumed he was talking about Josh Hartnett, as it sounds like L.A. specialises in hearthrobs). L.A. told Ed that his role was to build his brand, to protect him and his reputation. ‘Stay true to who you are, don’t accept any film roles just because you’re all of a sudden getting an avalanche of film roles.’ I google Ed later and find that he is replacing Jason Statham in the next Transporter movie. He has a number of movies in the pipeline, including Tiger House, Kill your Friends and Transporter 4, which would be the one to launch him into Superstardom if the movie is a hit, but by the success of past Transporter films, it is almost guaranteed. This is the real reason why he left GoT, I am convinced. By the end of dinner, I have been too enthralled in the conversation so have completely forgotten about the food. The menu delivers standard fish, pizza, and meat dishes and does what it intends to do; good, solid, reliable food that you can come back to, day after day.
As their dinner finishes, Ed Skrein gives a toast: ‘May today be better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today’ which I thought was quite endearing (He can whisper that in my ear any day), but Mr.C found it incredibly cheesy, but that is probably because he knew that I was secretly wishing Daario would swing me onto his shoulder back to his lair tonight.
Day-time at Shoreditch House: Sneakerheads at a Sneaky Show
Day-time in Shoreditch felt like I was in the Meatpacking district without the 7 hour flight and jetlag. After a very good Eggs Benedict at the 6th floor restaurant surrounded by brunching young families, we ventured out into the East End, which for me, was a first. We went like tourists to Spitalfields Market where we saw a 50 yo Chinese couple playing ping pong before opening their stall, wandered to Brick Lane where street artist Fanakapan was graffiti-ing elephants, and saw a never-ending line of people near the Truman’s Brewery, wondering which concert they were waiting in line for. I asked someone who looked like a man-in-the-know what they were waiting for and he told me: ‘A sneaky show.’ I am of course conjuring an x rated, sneaky, exhibitionist show in my head but had to stop myself as the attendants looked way too young, so I ask him to explain: ‘It’s a trainers market, people come here to see, trade and buy trainers like special edition Nike and Reebok.’ (The next day I ask my part time nanny what she did over the weekend she tells me that she was at a convention. ‘What kind of convention?’ I ask, when she shows me her newly acquired, impossible-to-get, black Nike high tops, that the ‘sneakerheads’ have all been clamouring to get. Wow. Where have I been? I thought sneakers were left in the eighties).
We finished off the morning with a coffee at the Boundary Rooftop, which is by the way, one of the best rooftops in the city, before Mr. C surprised me with the best pedicure in my life at the Cowshed Spa. Post-pedi, we headed for lunch around the pool, another Green Machine and Quinoa salad for me and a pepperoni pizza for Mr. C, which was unfortunately nowhere near as good as the Diavola Pizza at the Oak. I wanted to jump in the pool but Mr.C dissuaded me, ‘You don’t know what’s been in this pool’ although I am thinking that there’s nothing a little Vodka can’t clean. By the afternoon, the families had disappeared for a nap and the hipsters had exchanged their skinnies for board shorts, swanning around looking like Russell Brand, Florence the Machine and Alexa Chung (although I think it really was Alexa Chung, judging by her Hipster entourage). The scene was ‘young and cool’ against ‘Cityscape’. There was also a good gay scene, noticed by us when a young, lithe-bodied, Adonis answered the waitress when she asked the usual, ‘What can I get you?’ with: ‘A boyfriend, please. Preferably a good-looking one’.
As we left Shoreditch Hotel, Restaurant, Pool and Spa, we smugly felt that we could still hang with the ‘cool’ crowd, that is, until we saw a big graffiti outside fobbing off Shoreditch wankers and realized that we had just dropped one echelon of coolness again (although, street artists like Banksy are very happy to pick-pocket ‘Suits’ any day). Shoreditch may not be everyone’s scene, but for 24 hours, it made me feel like I had been away for a week and got my Mojo back with the help of Big Brother’s hipster scene, 500 thread count linens, condoms and Game of Thrones hotness.