The Nhow brand is from NH Hotels Group, which is owned by Minor Hotels. Minor will (later in 2022) be part of the Global Hospitality Alliance (GHA) loyalty programme.
What’s it like?
Very eclectic in its design with the idea being you should immediately feel at home, although only if you furnished your home from a dozen different shops and didn’t really mind if anything matched. It’s very colourful and has so many objects and works of art you could quite happily spend many hours sitting in the bar trying to work out the meaning of it all.
Some of the objects nod to the area – there are jackets on wire mannequins above the reception designed by fashion students, and a model of the London Eye, but with items of fruit where normally there would be the viewing cars. An inclined Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) has been modelled into a rocket taking off at an angle in the centre of reception, and there are multicoloured paintings of toasters on the pillars, while the lighting ranges from strip lighting to up lights, downlights, golden lights and chandeliers. On the ground floor there’s a seating area gathered around a feature gas fire, though unfortunately this wasn’t working at the time of our stay.
Where is it?
On Old Street, about a 15-minute bus ride from London St Pancras or a five-minute walk to Old Street Underground Station.
There are 199 rooms on floors 1-8, with one suite on each of the first seven floors and then a penthouse on the top floor. All of these are in the angled pointe of the building, and so have views across City Road and onto Macclesfield Road, though this is simply across to another block of what I think is student accommodation. Entry level superior Rooms (20-28sqm) have bed lights on black lacquer bulldog lampstands with black and white map of London streets as shades, there is a red hand attached to the wall as an art installation, though a fairly strange one, and a large mural of the Queen on the unfinished concrete wall, with another of an ancient British Monarch in the bathrooms.
On our bedroom walls was written in large letters ‘London Calling’, the work table is against the wall with a lamp and plenty of plug points, and there is a comfortable armchair by the window. All rooms have free tea and coffee-making (Dilmah teas with a full-size teapot and a machine for the coffee). Suites have Marshall sound systems and baths.
The meeting rooms are on the first floor and there are three rooms of differing sizes, all with good technology and flexible arrangements for tables and chairs.
Food and drink
The hotel has a restaurant called Bells and Whistles, which is closed the moment but being relaunched with a different concept, so for the moment you eat in the bar area. This isn’t a problem since there are plenty of tables, but the menu is very limited, and for vegetarian food it is pretty much a case of asking for certain items and then the kitchen omits the meat, fish, or, if vegan, the cheese from that dish.
The other issue, and there’s no good way of putting this, is the ground floor where the bar and reception is a quite noticeable smell of drains. The smell was still noticeable the next morning, and the breakfast buffet had a problem with fruit flies. Luckily, there are lots of options of places to eat down towards Old Street.
As you’d expect, I mentioned this to the hotel, and they now say that the problems have been addressed and so neither is currently the case – January 5, 2022.
There is a good-size gym on the basement level, with a very effective sound system and some modern cardio equipment and free weights. Even if you don’t workout, it’s worth using the toilets down there and seeing how the whole area has been styled like a London underground station even down to the doors whcih look like old style gates – very clever.
It’s a difficult time for hotels, with shortage of staff and wild fluctuations in demand because of travel restrictions, so I’d accept I didn’t see this hotel at its best. The Nhow has a quirky design and some friendly staff, but it needs to regroup in the coming months ready for the hoped for return of tourism and business travellers.
UPDATE, January 2022: As mentioned above, the hotel says it has addressed the concerns expressed in this review.