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Review: nhow London Hotel, Islington, UK

nhow London Hotel is an urban sanctuary where the sleek sophistication of contemporary design meets East London’s creative energy. Part of the Spanish NH Hotel Group, this picturesque open-house lifestyle hotel is set among some of the city’s most eclectic neighbourhoods, making it more than just a hotel – it’s a cultural hub that mirrors the spirit of its surroundings.

The welcome

On entering nhow London, I’m greeted by a splash of colour and struck by the funkiness of the hotel’s interior. A stone’s throw from an iconic Big Ben which is playfully reimagined as a rocket, I check in at the hotel’s futuristic reception desk where everything runs like clockwork.

The room

As I walk down the corridor to my room (615), the door to each room is like the front door of a Georgian home, each brightly coloured.

My room is a junior suite. Suites in London are not always that spacious but this one is generous with ample space to spread out and relax. I enter along a corridor, where there is a desk, Nespresso machine, minibar, Marshall Bluetooth-enabled amplifier and a little bin next which cheekily says “We won’t tell” at its base.

This leads on to a lounge area with a corner sofa and large, wall-mounted TV, and “London Calling” written in a graffiti style on the wall.

In the corner, on the apex to the building, is a funky armchair where you can read a book or watch the hustle and bustle of where Hoxton, Islington and Shoreditch intertwine below. My room overlooked Bunhill 2 Energy Centre which I was intrigued to discover is situated close to a disused Underground station (City Road) and utilises waste heat from the Tube to warm homes, two leisure centres and a school in Islington.

Separated by a partition is the bedroom with a king-sized ‘NH Sleep Better’ concept bed. All innerspring mattresses have been custom-built for the NH Hotel Group to meet the highest expectations, and it certainly didn’t disappoint on the comfort stakes. A mirrored wardrobe contains a safe, gowns and slippers, hair dryer, ironing board and iron, and shoe shine kit. There’s the late Queen’s picture in bright green above the bedhead, and another TV in the corner of the room.

The bathroom

Just off from the bedroom is a rather striking green-tiled bathroom, complete with rain-effect shower and separate bath, and thoughtful items such as a heated towel rail and shaving mirror.

There are nhow-branded toiletries as well as lots of extras – bars of soap, shower caps, comb and hairbrush sets, lip balms, baths salts, shaving kits, dental kits and even sisal pads.

The facilities

guilty by Olivier is the laid-back, informal restaurant and bar at nhow London, led by renowned Portuguese chef, Olivier da Costa, offering an array of delectable options, including salads, pasta dishes, burgers and homemade pizzas – a perfect blend of modern design and a relaxed vibe, providing guests with a stylish and enjoyable dining experience.

I enjoyed the octopus carpaccio with vibrant bell peppers and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

The burgers come with names such as ‘OIivier’ (Olivier sauce, mushrooms, onion and a fried egg), ‘Defiant’ (served between a double cheese toastie, bacon and baconnaise), ‘Guilty’ (lettuce, tomato, gherkin, red onion, Cheddar cheese, bacon and fried egg) and ‘Shameless’ (burrata, baked tomatoes, pesto and crispy pancetta). I opted for ‘Opulent’ – a delicious wagyu beef burger with black truffle and a truffle mayonnaise, along with a tomato and basil sald from the choice of sides.

A warm and comforting apple crumble, with apple, almond and a velvety vanilla ice cream was an indulgent way to complete the meal.

Breakfast is a buffet affair with fresh fruits, patries, cooked options and more, not to mention a few bold nhow London touches such as a Union Jack-clad Smeg toaster and a London Eye-like ferris wheel laden with cakes.

The location

nhow Hotel London is equidistant from Angel and Old Bank Underground stations, which are both on the Northern line and each just a 10-minute walk away. It is strategically situated close to the heart of Shoreditch, one of London’s trendiest and most vibrant neighborhoods. Just 5 minutes’ walk from City, University of London, it would be a very convenient location for anyone working there or for visiting parents. The British Museum and British Library are also close by, as is Spitalfields Market.

Other nice touches

The thoughtful inclusion of plush bathrobes adds an extra layer of comfort, allowing guests to unwind after a day of exploration or business meetings, whilst complimentary access to a well-equipped gym ensures that health-conscious visitors can maintain their fitness routines. Another nice touch is the complimentary use of Brompton Bikes, promoting not only sustainable transportation but also providing an enjoyable and eco-friendly means for guests to discover the city at their own pace.

The cost

Rooms at nhow start from £120 per night.
nhow Suites start from £216 per night.
The nhow Penthouse starts from £420 per night.

The best bit

I think the best bit about my stay was the space afforded by the nhow Suite. At 47 m², that’s pretty generous by London standards.

The final verdict

nhow London’s unapologetic embrace of unconventionality and quirky charm is arguably what makes it stand out. Uniquely-themed rooms that challenge the ordinary, and eclectic art installations that defy traditional norms, make the hotel a playground for the avant-garde and a haven for anyone seeking an immersive stay that is as vibrant and unconventional as the city it calls home.

Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by nhow London Hotel.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. The designers have achieved some very pleasing effects probably without too big a budget. That’s clever design.

    1. Indeed, Bob… they’ve been very bold. I’m not sure I would have an eye for creating something like this, but it certainly makes the stay stand out, and helps to set it apart from all the other hotels I visit.

  2. I have to spend a few nights in London on business each month. As it’s my business I keep costs down, my trips to London aren’t an expenses jolly. £120 a night is very good value for London. Thank you for the trip.

    1. £120 per night is exceptional value for a quality hotel in London. Of course, that will be a standard room at a time of low occupancy, but you’d struggle to find anything similar for less, I think.

  3. Islington’s come a long way. As a poor young graduate on his first job back in the 1980s I had a room in a rundown house share in Islington. It was an edgy district at the least.

    Four decades is a long time in London and back then it was unthinkable that Islington would host hotels as cool as nhow.

    1. Yes, a lot can change in different parts of the city. Just look at somewhere like Notting Hill which transformed from a predominantly working-class neighbourhood with a vibrant Caribbean community to a trendy and affluent area marked by various upscale developments.

  4. On my travels around Europe I’ve stayed in a few NH hotels as they do the job for a reasonable price but none of them have the colour and flair of nhow. It looks like a radical new direction for NH.

    1. Hi Julie – yes, I’ve stayed in at least one or two NH airport hotels, and they were quite different. Still nice, but nothing like as memorable! I think I read somewhere that the nhow brand is ‘chameolonic’ – ie. constantly changing relative to its environment. That seems quite an apt description.

  5. The presentation of the food looks quite funky too. As someone who works in branding it’s nice to see the consistency.

  6. There is many a hotel that could learn a lot from nhow. They achieve some spectacular design effects through simplicity.

    The coloured doors are a clever idea. I bet more guests are likely to remember the colour of their door than their room number.

    1. For me, it was easy as mine was the red door right at the end of the corridor. But yes, I take your point, Attesh… people are probably more likely to remember the colour of their door than their room number!

  7. Sometimes the photos can be deceptive but it does look like a very fair-sized suite by London standards. If it’s a work trip it is best to keep your work stuff in the lounge area and keep your bedroom work free.

    1. It was very generous, Richie. If I’m honest, I quite like to have my desk also in view of the TV, which wasn’t the case here, but there’s a counter argument here that I’m possibly more productive work-wise without that added distraction…

  8. Fascinating story about Bunhill 2 Energy Centre. I’ve always been aware of stifling heat from the underground and it never even crossed my mind that it could be used positively. There are many worrying headlines about global warming and not as many about on innovative things like this.

    1. Yes… I thought this was very interesting. Our oldest son is currently studying Engineering at Uni with the plan to specialise in Renewable Engineering in his final year, so of course I immediately shared this discovery with him. I’ve also mentioned it to one or two people since and they were fascinated. When you think about, it certainly makes sense – it can be so warm on the London Underground sometimes!

  9. There’s so much going on in the hotel industry at the moment, The majority of the hotel chains are going through a real phase of experimentation. It’s looking like exciting times ahead.

  10. It certainly all looks very colourful and jolly. I haven’t been to that part of London for ages. I’ll probably give it a try next time that I’m in London.

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