LONDON IS THE THEME OF JOEL BUTLER’S SECOND COLUMN FOR HOTEL DESIGNS, AS WE ASK THE CO-FOUNDER OF HIX EVENT TO USE PEDAL POWER TO EXPLORE THE CURRENT HOSPITALITY AND DESIGN SCENE IN THE BIG CITY…
“Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner, that I love London town!” The theme of this article takes me back to my roots, and should therefore, in theory at least, should be a relatively straight-forward piece to write about.
I was born in West London, and I have lived in the East End for 20 years. My work places have zig zagged across town throughout this time. And yet, I feel completely in the deep end writing about the capital at time when the city doesn’t feel like itself – but it is arguably more important to write about it now than it was pre-Covid.
“London is Europe’s beating heart of hospitality and design because…” A wave of hackneyed words envelope my mind: “diversity, history, innovation, fast-paced, energy and culture.” I realise that as valid as these words may be, they’re already very much accepted by everyone within our industry. I strike a line through these cliches as I think of the wonderfully quotable yet horribly over-used Samuel Pepys’ line: ‘A man who is bored of London…something something something” – I vow to not use this Pepys quote in the article.
Following Lockdown 2.0, and as we drift into the uncharted territories of Tier 3, we are in an extended lockdown that doesn’t feel quite like the first one. There’s now light at the end of the tunnel yet the days seem colder and darker than the first time around. In short, there’s not much hospitality in London to write about so I get on my bike to look for it.
London is a collection of villages: lots of neighbourhoods connected – even the city’s square mile is a village. I set off from my East End village of Leyton and hit the canal, graffitied walls overlooking water make for a huge, damp art gallery that delights and challenges at once. Through Victoria Park and Bethnal Green and there’s no hospitality design to write about because it’s all essentially (or ‘non-essentially’) closed, independent cafes: closed, local pubs: closed. I speed into Old Street and hospitality offerings become lifestyle and boutique, but the doors are locked for now.
“It’s a Tour de Hospitality but I’m the only one racing.” – Joel Butler, Co-founder, HIX Event.
My route zooms past me at speed, Clerkenwell to Midtown, across the bridge to Waterloo, Southwark and into the city. I can’t help but notice the hotels that I pass. It’s a Tour de Hospitality but I’m the only one racing. The Zetter, The Hoxton Holborn, Rosewood London, ME London, crossing the bridge is like a low-budget zombie film where you might glimpse the odd bus or taxi ruining the idea of the apocalypse. Down into Lower Marsh and past the Ruby Lucy, The Hoxton Southwark, The Mondrian, Citizen M and Hilton London Bankside, and across the bridge back into the city to pedal past The Andaz, Mama Shelter, and back into the East End to pass the same closed pubs and cafes but in reverse.
This article, which is all about London being a major hot spot for hospitality and design, isn’t going too well and that hackneyed Pepys quote presents itself again as the easy option: ‘A man who is bored of London…’ I’ll google it when I get home.
For the full article on Hotel Designs: