Soho House-like member clubs are all the rage in London at the moment. These hotels come complete with high design, a sense of see-and-be-seen hipness, and often, eye-popping rates and membership fees. The Curtain, a year-old hotel and member club in the Shoreditch neighborhood, is aiming for the hipness factor without the sky-high prices, and with a slightly more down-to-earth approach to London lodging.
Budget Level: Upscale ($150-$300/night)
Lodging Type: Large Hotel (100+ rooms)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Newly built and named after an Elizabethan-era theater that once stood nearby, The Curtain's interiors are indeed designed for maximum drama. Think velvet couches, exposed brick, richly painted wood, and brass fixtures. Eschewing the entry-as-gathering-place trend, the small lobby nonetheless makes a statement with cascading greenery and a glass chandelier. If you love textures, plush furniture, and Instagram, you'll enjoy your stay here. Be sure to note the details in the bathrooms, which have steam and rain showers — a way to both relax and warm up in brisk weather.
The crowd that gathers at The Curtain is young, casually but chicly dressed, and distinctly international. As such, service here is welcoming but relatively hands-off, leaving you to enjoy the hotel's public spaces without much interference or fuss. The floors where rooms are located feel private and quiet, and offer a low-lit contrast to the hotel's sunny public spaces.
Who Will Love It
If you love the style and high-quality finishes in London's luxury hotels but can't stand the stuffiness, this property is as relaxed as it is design-forward.
Who Might Not
If you'll feel out of place amidst a crowd of say, attractive young hipsters from Buenos Aires, and you need the staff to remember your name, you may want to stay elsewhere.
The Curtain offers two truly standout amenities — and each is reason enough to stay here. The first is the rooftop pool area — a rarity in London where chilly, rainy weather keeps visitors and locals inside and hidden under coats and sweaters for a significant portion of the year. The pool is heated and open nearly all year long; a few ambitious guests were even splashing around when we visited in February in 45-degree weather. If you're not in the mood to swim, have brunch or a drink in the adjoining restaurant, Lido. With a retractable glass roof, this section feels bright and airy and offers a dose of the outdoors even when the sun is hidden behind clouds. The second must-visit offering is Red Rooster, the London outpost of Marcus Samuelson's Harlem soul food classic. Traditional recipes like fried yard bird, shrimp and grits, and chicken and waffles are given expert treatment here and are served in a lively atmosphere that includes live music and a buzzing bar scene. Book ahead to secure a table.
Just your room is included in the rate, though you will receive free Wifi and complimentary access to the gym and rooftop pool throughout your stay.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
All food and drink costs extra.
How to Get a Deal
High-end London hotels aren't exactly known for being cheap, but you will find some deals at The Curtain (and elsewhere in town) during the week and in the coolest months of the year — December through March, with the exception of holidays. The weather may not be perfect, but we love low-season London for its uncrowded, locals-only feel. During these months, you can expect to pay less than $300 per night (about 200GBP) for a room at The Curtain, especially if you stay during the week. Expect this to go up to about $425 (300GBP) in the summer months.
In the Neighborhood
Shoreditch has long outgrown its reputation as London's hottest, artiest new neighborhood, but it's settled into its identity as a style-centric haunt for the city's moneyed creative class. The best — and sometimes only — thing to do here as a visitor is to wander, shop, eat, and drink as you come across interesting spots in the neighborhood. A few of our favorite places nearby include Biegel Bake, a bakery known for its delicious and ultra-affordable salted beef bagel sandwich; Bookartbookshop, which sells art books and zines, most of which are handmade; the excellent whiskey cocktails at Bull in a China Shop; and Shoreditch Grind, a coffee shop that offers excellent lattes and unmatched people-watching.
There's no denying it: London's Heathrow Airport is a long way from Shoreditch. Located on the opposite side of the city, there's no direct tube line either. If you're okay with paying for convenience, a taxi will cost you about $130 (92GBP) each way and will take an hour without traffic. Note that taking an Uber will cost half as much, so it's worth taking a few extra minutes to do this, rather than just jumping in a black cab at the terminal. If you can manage the tube transfers, it's an affordable, if somewhat inconvenient way to reach the hotel. Take the Piccadilly Line to the Northern line and get off at Old Street. The hotel is about an eight-minute walk from there, and your total journey will take about an hour and twenty minutes.
Nearest Public Transit
The Old Street, Mooregate, and Liverpool Street tube stations are less than a ten-minute walk to the hotel.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For a chic stay, an excellent meal, a soothing steam shower, or a surprising winter afternoon by the pool, The Curtain offers a distinctive stay in London.