Check-in: 5pm on a sunny, rather warm Sunday evening in London. Like most first timers to Shoreditch House, we're hauling our luggage around cobblestone streets, confused as to the actual entrance to the building. Finally we spy a dark glass doorfree of all markings, let alone a Shoreditch House signand since it's a little ajar, we brazenly waltz right in. Scoreit's the lobby!
To the right, Soho House's member reception and to the left, the small check-in desk for the 26 rooms that make up the hotel portion of Shoreditch House. You see, there's more than rooms to this old tea warehouse. Since 2007, it's been one of the Soho House private clubs, with restaurants, lounges, a bar, a game room, a rooftop pool and lawn, even a two-lane bowling alley. The rooms were only opened last year, and are frequently booked up on Saturday nights by the London media elite who count themselves among Shoreditch House's members.
We knew our history and now we've stepped over the threshold. The receptionist kindly handed over our temporary member cardhotel guests are welcome to use the facilities of the club during the stayand led us to Room 3, of the tiniest category, with a view down to the graffiti-ed alley of Ebor Street. She shook our hand and proclaimed that she was happy to be acquainted with us, a move that instantly made us feel great and overwhelmingly welcome.
Room Reaction: Room 3 wasn't large, but it was more spacious than our Dean Street Townhouse room. It had everything we needed for a short stay: a flatscreen TV, a large and comfy bed, a desk in the form of a vintage school chair, a spotless bathroom packed with extras, and a location within walking distance of some seriously excellent restaurants and cafes.
We'll admit that we considered not leaving the room during our stay, because there is something Soho House does that makes their hotel rooms so cozy, so comforting that it's sublimely easy to ignore everything happening outside the building's walls.
What the room didn't have, however, was a closet. If you travel light, this is not a problem as the room is partially trimmed with a runner of coat hooks, so that fixes that.
Amenities: Here is the icing on the cake. Aside from the cute design/tech touches like a vintage telephone and clock, the room also includes an extensive minibar with free bottled water (carbon neutral), an ideal tea/coffee set with the coffee as grinds in a glass jar, ready to be French-Pressed, and another jar of freshly baked shortbread cookies, for a proper tea time.
There is of course a safe, but also a Sky TV box next to it, for your full cable-watching pleasure.
Our favorite amenity department is to be found on the vanity behind the sink, where a boatload of little Cowshed Spa products awaits. Facial cleanser, toner for her, shaving cream and moisturizer for him, toothbrushes, toothpaste, ear plugs, a tampon, a comb, a razor, condoms and mouthwash are all right there and complimentary. In the shower and at the sink are a range of full-size Cowshed products to use, but you'll be charged if you decide to take those big bottles home.
Internet Connect: Free and fast WiFi both in the room and throughout the Shoreditch House club, for the most part. We were up working quite lateuntil 4am to be perfectly honestand the internet cut out. Thankfully it forced us to get some sleep, and all was well again at 10am, when we awoke.
What We Liked: Is it fair to say everything? We don't want to be too lovey-dovey, but Shoreditch House really hits the spot for us. The amenities, the free WiFi, the attention to design, the affordable nightly rates, the air of exclusivity and the location far away from tourist traps...all major turn-ons.
What We Didn't Like: Here's something that may come as a surprise. Shoreditch House is a no-pictures and no-cell-phones-allowed place. Have an important call coming in and you want to hit the bar? Leave your phone at reception and they'll take a message. It's extremely personalized service in exchange for your discretion. This is why this review includes no photos of the rest of the clubif we got caught with a camera, we could have kissed our night in Room 3 goodbye. This is what we didn't likethe biting-our-tongue feeling of being in such a great environment without the ability to capture and share it. Alas, we understand and even began to relax.
Bottom Line: You won't find Shoreditch House offering deals on travel search sites and you won't see fannypacked tourists checking in. That's just the way it is and to stay here, you have to flow with the House's energy. We can see some travelers hating it right away from the moment the staff treats you as an equal rather than as their master, but othersmost likely the younger, "creative class" sortwill fall in immediately and come to regard it as a home away from home. We'll be back. Oh yeswe'll be back.
[Photos and video: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]