nhow London Hotel Review : a Creative Place to Stay
On a cultural trip to London, Mark Bibby Jackson stays at the nhow London while catching Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and Entangled Pasts at the Royal Academy.
Having been brought up in London, it still seems something of a novelty to check into a hotel in the UK capital. However, now that I live in the sticks, it is great to find a spacious and comfortable base when on one of my numerous cultural forays into Town. In that regards nhow London ticks the appropriate boxes.
The hotel has a very modern vibe. It is very colourful with lots of modern art which creates a Banksy feel to the reception area and the bar. I particularly like the sculpture of Big Ben taking off as is it is a rocket. The music is equally vibrant. It certainly a fun place to stay. Most importantly, the rooms are both spacious and comfortable.
My vast suite has excellent views across North London up towards the Angel, which is the other great advantage of nhow London. Sandwiched between the City and Islington, you have easy access to both parts of London.
Checking in the afternoon I have plenty of time to use the excellent working space in the downstairs area next to Guilty by Olivier restaurant where I will dine.
The Wi-Fi speed is excellent and Ray proves an admirable host keeping me fuelled with water. According to him, the bright colours are extremely good with creatives. As I spent an hour or so catching up with emails, I will have to take his word for it.
nhow London is perhaps not the place more elderly patrons, but is ideal for those who are young at heart. It also has a gym downstairs should you wish to keep in shape. This is situated next to one of the most unusual toilet blocks I have ever seen in a hotel – more transsexual than unisexual.
Guilty opens at 5pm and I am the first to try out the kitchen that evening, as I have to pop across the river to watch Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Created by chef Olivier Da Costa, the menu combines tradition with innovation with a touch of guilty indulgence. It has an Italian feel with pizza and pasta much to the fore.
My starter is an intriguing octopus carpaccio which has a nice zest to it. I follow this with a Jealous pizza. Thin-crust just as I like it, the pizza has a large burrata in its centre. Unfortunately, as it is so early there are no other guests to look jealously on. I conclude with a Kinder chocolate cheesecake, recommended by Ray. This has an excellent base and is not as sickly sweet as you might imagine. The portion was generous enough to share, and far too generous for me to finish.
Othello at The Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Jealousy is very much at the centre of my first cultural excursion on my brief stay in London.
Shakespeare’s Othello is a play about racial prejudice and jealousy. I studied it both at school and university, but cannot recall having seen it performed. It was also my first visit to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the intimate theatre that resides beside the Globe.
The space is spectacular, particularly so when candle-lit. The performance is very contemporary with Othello re-cast as a police inspector combatting Docklands gangsters. This works extremely well, especially as it revolves around the theme of institutional racism.
Ken Nwosu is excellent as Othello, combining the noble warrior who is scant of words with the foolish man riddled with jealousy. The use of Subconscious Othello is an interesting way of explaining how the one can so quickly become the other, twisted by the devilish Iago played by the equally excellent Ralph Davis.
Breakfast at nhow London
As Othello concludes around 10.30pm I really have little time to explore nhow London that night. However, with the option of a late breakfast up to 10.30am, and a most inviting bath, I am able to chill at the hotel and catch up with emails over breakfast before departing.
Leaving the hotel, I am struck by a sculpture of two men opening a lock with a dog looking at them. Called Opening the Lock Gate, and unveiled in 2020, this marks the entrance to the City Road Basin right next to the hotel.
At the basin, there is a small garden where people can sit around water features which must be very pleasant in summer, but this being January in London, I do not linger. Instead, I head off for my second cultural foray during my short stay in London.
Entangled Pasts at the Royal Academy
Entangled Pasts 1768-now makes for an excellent bedfellow to Othello. The exhibition examines the entangled nature of art and race. Although the main works of the exhibition are in the galleries, possibly its most striking feature is ‘The First Supper’, a statue by Tavares Strachan in the courtyard that depicts twelve people of African descent from Haile Selassie to Derek Walcott posed as if at The Last Supper.
This sets the tone for this major exhibition by the Royal Academy (RA), which examines the way that Black people have been portrayed or air-brushed by artists throughout the centuries that the RA has been in existence.
I particularly like the way the RA pulls no punches, even when dealing with its own past. A piece by Frank Dicksee, entitled ‘Startled’ depicts an Aryanised concept of beauty. Beside it is a quote by the RA’s President from 1924 to 1928, stating that “our ideal of beauty must be the white man’s”. Next to this painting is another of the all-white, all-male RA Selection and Hanging Committee from 1938 and 1939.
The exhibition is challenging and rewarding.
Sustainability at nhow London
With sustainability at its heart, nhow London has received the Green Key Award for excellence in environmental responsibility.
NHOW London is an excellent choice to make your base in London. Whereas many hotels are fine to crash for a night – after all with so much to do in London you don’t want to spend all your time sitting in your room –, this certainly is one where you can make your base for several days or perhaps a week. You can also hire bicycles for free from reception should you wish to explore London by bike.
Macclesfield Road 2, London, EC1V 8DG