Tried & Tested

Hotel review: New Road Hotel, Whitechapel, London

28 Jun 2018 by Becky Ambury

Background
Opened in May 2018, this independent hotel is owned by three brothers, Masrur, Monsur and Moksud. It’s located in the former textile factory that their father used to work in when he moved to Britain from Bangladesh in the sixties.

Where is it?
In Whitechapel, east London, five minutes’ walk from Whitechapel tube. The hotel is about ten minutes journey by tube from Canary Wharf and just ten minutes walk from the City.

What’s it like?
This laid-back, stylish hotel is a surprise find in rather unfairly overlooked Whitechapel, best known for its vibrant cultural diversity. Yet it makes sense to locate a hotel here; this part of town offers easy access to both London’s most on-trend neighbourhoods and key business areas, not to mention the city’s best Punjabi restaurants (the renowned BYOB Needoo Grill is just a few doors down and Tayyabs is round the corner) if that floats your boat – it does mine. It’s a great base for mixing business and pleasure.

The hotel’s design could be termed east London max. From the outside, the brick building’s former calling as a factory is clearly written on its façade, with vast floor-to-ceiling windows that give more than a sneak peak into the capacious ground floor. Here guests will find plenty of a communal space with seating in an array of formats for informal meetings, working and socialising, alongside the bar, reception and, at the back, the restaurant, Mr White’s Chophouse. Wifi is free, of course.

The interior design direction wisely treads an industrial path, with raw finishes in tactile combinations that allow the textures to shine. Vibrant glazed tiles abut bare brick and weathered wood, with definition from black metal work.

Meanwhile, quirky features, such as the factory’s original clocking-in machine and a bike rack in the entrance, give a sense of fun.

Check-in was a straightforward, pleasant affair; staff at reception were friendly and helpful. Their relaxed informality allows guests to feel they can stop and enjoy a chat – a nice experience when travelling alone for work.

The rooms
There are four different types of rooms, totalling 80, set over three floors with a lift. Pocket rooms (small doubles with king-size beds) measure 12 sqm, Warehouse X (doubles with extra large beds) rooms are 15 sqm, Warehouse K rooms (standard doubles with king-size beds) are 14 sqm, Warehouse F rooms 35 sqm, Warehouse T rooms (twin) 20 sqm, the Eco Shed (still in planning) and three Loft rooms from 15-18 sqm, either with a Jacuzzi, hot tub or terrace (3-10 sqm) .

I was in a Warehouse T, a twin room, which has an extremely neat design, reminiscent of the approach taken by Arlo Hotels in New York (see review here). There is parquet flooring, unconcealed fixtures and fittings, factory-style metal pendant lights and plenty of black wood, accents of orange and bare brick.

What there isn’t, is a wardrobe. Instead there is hanging space beside a small vanity-cum-work desk, which has AC (UK and overseas sockets) and USB power, and on coat hooks by the door. I like this approach, being prone to leaving possessions behind in wardrobes.

Neither are there tea and coffee making facilities, instead guests can use the free vending machines located on each floor. And there is no clothes press in the room, instead an ironing room is located on the third floor.

All of these things are emblematic of a different way of travelling for business or pleasure. In a more informal age, there’s less need for different outfits for different occasions, ergo less need for a wardrobe-full of clothes. In an era of excellent coffee and communal working spaces, who wants to sit cooped up in their room alone swigging freeze-dried coffee? People are increasingly combining business and pleasure; they are capitalising on their free time while away for work by getting out and exploring the city they are in, not staring at the room’s TV.

That said, the 49-inch flatscreen TV is excellent and allowed me to link up a smartphone to watch my own content. Though, viewing it from the, admittedly, comfortable Hypnos bed was slightly irritating as it wasn’t quite positioned centrally between the two beds. Another aspect of the bed set-up that should be addressed was that controls for the lights and for the blinds were only next to one of the beds, so you’d have to be tasked with turning off your room companion’s light.

The good-sized wet room/toilet is a well designed and pleasant space. Large format tiles in slate and taupe and mosaic tiles in white give an aptly clean look without being clinical. The rainhead shower is powerful and easy to control, with a seat for those who can’t be bothered to stand up (me). Good-quality toiletries are from Deborah Mitchell.

Food and drink
There is a large bar area on the ground floor, with a variety of seating options, whether you want to perch on a bar stool or sink into an armchair. Bar staff were very accommodating upon my visit, knocking me up a bespoke cocktail to suit my penchant for mezcal. Cocktails average about £8.50, reasonable for the area, and there is a bar menu of classic pub dishes and uppercrust sandwiches such as Local Crab (though the idea of crab being local to London didn’t exactly whet my appetite).

 

The restaurant is Mr White’s English Chophouse, a Marco Pierre White brand with another branch in Manchester. The restaurant is to the rear of the ground floor and adopts a slightly moodier ambience with dark wood furniture, splashes of orange and lighting that is a modern take on chandeliers.

 

Service was exemplary, with staff eager to please, upbeat and attentive. The meat-focused menu is a crowd-pleasing selection of burgers, steaks and classic dishes such as fish pie. The food was enjoyable, although starters of beetroot and goats cheese and mackerel brandade were slightly lacklustre. My steak was good and the accompanying peppercorn sauce delicious.

There is a choice of two venues for breakfast. At Mr White’s Chophouse, you’ll find a full breakfast menu. For something a bit different, there is Cereal Grind. Cereal of every type is on offer here, served in combinations called Cereal Cocktails. There’s a precedent for this sort of thing in edgy east London – who could forget the national outcry at the opening of Cereal Killer café in nearby Brick Lane in 2014?

Meetings
There is plenty of room in the hotel’s communal spaces to serve for more informal meetings. For greater privacy, the hotel also has two meeting rooms. Both the Kitchen and the Lounge can seat up to eight attendees and the spaces can be combined for larger meetings, housing up to 25 in a theatre set-up.

Leisure
There is a pool table on the first floor, a library space on the second (though it wasn’t very well stocked on my visit) and a yoga terrace and fitness space on the top floor. The hotel is currently in the process of creating a range of experiences, such a graffiti tours, craft courses and potentially even parkour (the practice of leaping around urban spaces like an overgrown child).

Verdict
This is a refreshing addition to the London hotel scene in a great location for business, culture and nightlife. It’s young, fun and thoughtfully designed with reference to the building and area’s heritage, which in this case has a personal back story and lends to its credibility. The bar is a nice spot for a drink, whether or not you are staying at the hotel, and the communal spaces make working a pleasure. All round, it’s a positive place to be.

  • Best for Its great location and smart design
  • Don’t miss Enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the light-filled communal space on the ground floor
  • Price A Warehouse T twin room costs £169 a night for a midweek stay; Pocket room from £129
  • Contact New Road Hotel, 103-107 New Road, London E1 1HJ; 0203 0198 710; newroadhotel.co.uk
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