It would be difficult to pinpoint something we didn’t like about the new Nobu Shoreditch hotel and restaurant. Okay, so when Blenheim Design visited the hotel there were cranes outside fixing wall panels and the hotel won’t be finished until early 2018, but as an operating restaurant we could appreciate the attention to detail, the interior layout and the finishes already on show.
The hotel is of modest size to nestle into the surrounding buildings but it is a case of it really is a lot bigger than it looks from the exterior. The hotel will consist of 243 rooms and 7 suites when it is finished and a rooftop bar opening in early 2018. The completed areas open to the public include the lobby reception and combined bar, function room, the basement restaurant and bar and most of the guest rooms.
On approach to the hotel from Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, near to a newly opened Shoryu restaurant designed by Blenheim Design, you can view the modern Japanese design influences of the building best.
The building’s steel structures emerge exposed from the façade panelled with shuttered concrete. They tower high above and taper towards the street level, appearing to envelop the sunken courtyard off the basement restaurant. The minimalist effect of the shuttered concrete material is broken by large panes of glazing continuing across the façade of the hotel, and with at least two generous entrances formed out of steel laser cut doors which incorporate the nobu signs.
The main entrance lobby leading onto the reception is planted with bright green ferns, Japanese garden ornaments and lined with shou sugi ban tiles which are a traditional Japanese method to make charred and preserved cedar cladding. A lovely black shimmering effect is created but the process is time consuming so quite costly.
At Nobu Shoreditch it can also be seen where it forms a privacy screen along the stairs down to the restaurant and contains pockets within the wall for candles to create intimacy. On entering, the first thing in view is the long reception desk and bar which is a continuation down to the far left of the interior.
At first glance it looks like shou sugi ban has been used across the front of the counter also but on closer inspection the material is a matte black painted cork tiles of varying heights.
An impressive and unique texture that resembles something more expensive but also has good acoustic properties. A black marble forms the top of the long counter and behind both the bar and reception wall is a panelling system of honey coloured open timber slats often seen in modern and traditional Japanese interiors.
The floor is a grey terrazzo tile which allows the warmth of the other materials such as oak, rattan, stretched earthy brown calico, even natural twisted rope to stand out. The ground floor bar is intimate considering it stretches across the long street. The privacy is created by high seat backs and timber open slat detail above similar to behind the bar and we really liked the inclusion of modern black lighting within the slats.
A very neutral mid to dark grey coloured upholstery comes alive with the addition of a red stripe to the low stools and the tables have been elegantly lined with a bronze edge trim and antiqued mirror tops.
Returning swivel side chairs often demand a high price so are less common - here. Nobu has used swivel dining chair forms in a smaller seating zone for their better accessibility and to increase covers.
Detailed oak frames, rattan panels, exposed upholstery backs form separate seating groups of the mid-floor zone, and large hanging timber light rafts with intricate panels and rope details add to the intimacy the high ceiling space.
A unique feature wall texture is achieved using real terracotta roof tiles of varying shapes artfully stacked at the far end of the lobby, visible in another seating zone hidden behind a hand painted screen and cabinet.
Feature lights are elegantly simple and dimmed throughout and spot lighting focusses on a small area of walls and artist features instead of washing the wall with light. The uncluttered zen like hotel lobby interior benefits from calming low light levels and by the quiet achieved through use of acoustic properties of stretched fabrics and other natural materials.