Tried & Tested

Apartment review: Ember Locke

4 Oct 2023 by Mark Caswell
Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)

Background

Serviced apartment provider edyn launched its design-led Locke Hotels brand in 2016, named after 17th century English philosopher and physician John Locke.

The first London property opened on Leman Street in London’s Aldgate district, and the brand has since grown to six London hotels, as well as locations in Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Berlin, Munich and Zurich.

See the links below for our previous Tried and Tested reviews of Locke properties:

In September 2022 it was announced that edyn had acquired the former NH Kensington hotel, with plans to convert it into a Locke property, and the 121-apartment Ember Locke opened in July this year.

Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)

Where is it?

On Cromwell Road (the A4), around ten minutes’ walk north of Earl’s Court Station, with links to Heathrow via the Piccadilly Line.

What’s it like?

Guests enter through heavy arched doorways on busy Cromwell Road, and are immediately transported to somewhere else entirely. Each Locke property has its own design inspiration, and in the case of Ember Locke it’s the nearby (and now sadly closed to the public) Kensington Roof Gardens, and 1960s/70s fashion label Biba, resulting in an “Art Deco design style combined with 21st century retro futurism”.

This has resulted in wonderfully calming, plant-filled public areas, with a colour scheme including reds, terracottas and emerald greens which for me felt almost Moroccan in influence. I felt the immediate urge to sit down and take in the surroundings, which is not often the case with hotel lobbies.

As guests walk in there is a small coffee shop, and to the right is a lounge area followed by EVE restaurant and bar, which was gearing up to open when I visited in mid-September. At the far end of the restaurant there is also a stage which will host live performances by jazz musicians and other acts.

Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)

Back in the main lobby area there is a reception desk opposite the lifts, leading through to a bar and casual co-working space (the hotel encourages visitors to use this space even if they are not staying overnight), and finally doors open out and down a set of steps to a paved and grassed garden with comfortable looking outdoor seating.

I didn’t visit this property when it was an NH hotel, but I’m assuming the interiors were nothing like they are now – conversions can always be tricky to get right, but Locke has done an incredible job to create an oasis of calm on the doorstep of one of London’s main thoroughfares.

Rooms

The Locke brand is predominantly aimed at longer stay guests, so the majority of Ember Locke’s 121 apartments offer either half or full kitchens. There are however a handful of traditional hotel rooms (known as Locke Rooms), something which the brand first experimented with at its Buckle Street Studios property. The conversion nature of the property means there are also some quirky options including a duplex suite which can be accessed from doors on either floor.

I was staying in a Locke Studio on the first floor, overlooking Cromwell Road. There was some noise from the traffic, but double glazing and heavy curtains mitigated this. Design continues the art deco feel, and is richer in colour than the public spaces, with deep reds in the curtains, dark wood flooring, the green kitchen unit, and warming yellows from the seating area.

Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)

The bedroom can be separated from the kitchen / sitting area by another heavy curtain which can be pulled all the way across – personally I found this made the bedroom area feel a little cramped, so I kept it open most of the time.

I didn’t get a chance to use the kitchen facilities, but it featured Smeg appliances including a toaster, kettle, microwave, dishwasher, fridge and washing machine (rooms with half kitchen do not include the last of these, but there is a free-to-use communal laundry room), and plenty of pots and pans, crockery, cutlery and glasses. My apartment also featured a corner banquette seating area, marble dining / work table and a dining chair.

Bedroom facilities included an open hanging space (which seems to be becoming the norm these days), a chest of drawers housing a safe and hairdryer, and an ingenious full length mirror which swivelled round to reveal the iron board hanging on the reverse side.

With converted properties there are always compromises, and in this case its the relative lack of power points (and no USB ports), and bathrooms which have been largely carried over from the previous hotel, save for a few touches like Kinsey Apothecary amenities. This means a shower over a shallow bathtub and a hanging shower curtain, rather than the sleek, walk-in showers travellers will be used to in most new-build hotels.

Overall however I thought the apartment was well designed and tastefully decorated, with good kitchen facilities for an extended stay.

Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)

Food and drink

All of the property’s F&B concepts are run by a third party under the EVE branding – there is also a separate website for these at evekensington.com.

EVE restaurant opened on 14 September, offering dishes “inspired by the diverse flavours and breaking bread cultures of the eastern and southern Mediterranean regions”. The menu can be seen here, and includes dishes such as cured trout, pomegranate, orange and fennel (£12), chicken skewers, turmeric yoghurt, chilli (£15), and pistachio polenta cake, fig leaf syrup, sour cream (£7).

The hotel does not offer bed and breakfast packages – I can partly see the thinking behind this as the majority of apartments have kitchens, but I do think they are missing a trick here by not offering it as an add-on during the booking stage.

Nonetheless guests can choose to have a light breakfast from the lobby cafe (open 7am to 4pm) on a pay-as-you-go basis should they wish – as I was only staying one night I hadn’t got any essentials in for my apartment, so I had a flat white and enormous pistachio croissant to start my day – both of which were excellent.

Finally the hotel’s bar is open from 4pm to 11pm, and has a mixture of stool seating around the curved bar, individual table seating, and bench-style communal seating along the window overlooking the gardens.

Aside from a quick pitstop at the cafe I wasn’t able to make much use of all the options above, but I intend to return next time I’m in London as it really is a wonderful space.

Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)

Meetings

The ground floor Rainbow Room accommodates up to 20 people, and has natural light through arched windows looking out onto the garden.

Leisure

There is a fitness centre on the basement level of the building – a good size space and with plenty of equipment, but unlike the rest of the hotel it’s sparsely decorated and not exactly inspiring.

Verdict

I can’t overstate what a great job Locke has done in transforming the ground floor of this property into a calming, stylish refuge away from the noise outside. Well worth a visit if you are in the area, and apartment facilities make this an excellent extended stay option.

FACT BOX

  • Best for Those looking for modern extended stay facilities
  • Don’t miss The wonderful ground floor public areas
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in November started from £255 per night (for stays of less than seven nights) for a City Studio
  • Contact Ember Locke, 202-220 Cromwell Road, Kensington, London SW5 0SW; lockeliving.com
Ember Locke (credit: Kensington Leverne - image supplied by Purple PR)
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