With our London address books bursting with grand heritage establishments and a slew of new design hotels, it’s easy to dismiss the notion of a private, charming getaway on the edge of Zone 1 in the British capital. The newly opened New Road residence in Whitechapel seems set to change all that though (at least for a few lucky guests at a time), with its premise as a laissez-faire guesthouse experience working in exact opposition to the attentive presence of night porters and room service that falters between efficient and overbearing elsewhere.
New Road is a labyrinthine 18th-century townhouse that was once a linen merchant’s store; its current transformation the brainchild of James Brown and Christie Fels (respectively founder and artistic director of the Shoreditch-based lifestyle and fashion boutique Hostem), whose aesthetic leanings towards mid-century furniture, the 'wabi-sabi' method, and the more organic movements in contemporary art converge in the eccentric 265 sq m space.
Designed as a destination for couples, families and friends seeking a leisurely London weekend of a different sort, the three-storey self-contained residence is a tranquil design haven configured for comfort and relaxation within the same cadre of polished, artisanal imperfection that defines the wares found at Hostem’s Redchurch Street store. Whilst there the likes of Loewe, Yohji Yamamoto, Thom Browne and MA+ garments hang alongside handmade tailoring by weaver Amy Revier, here Hostem’s tactile, purist narrative is extended through furniture pieces from the likes of Valentin Loellmann (his blackened oak stools, for one) to Pierre Jeanneret’s iconic writing desk. On the walls, it’s expressed via a selection of abstract contemporary artworks curated by London gallerist Stuart Shave – whose painting and sculpture edit includes pieces by Paul Lee, Linder and Richard Tuttle.
Whilst New Road’s meticulous, pared-back visual atmosphere is no doubt a feast for the eyes, thankfully its guests shan’t be left wanting in the bed, bath and table department either – as comestibles from nearby providore Leila’s Shop stock the galley kitchen (with wine by Primeur’s Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim) and Italian crushed linen bedding awaits after one’s bath in the free-standing claw-foot copper tub. The living room comes replete with a fireside bookshelf stocked with nostalgic British novels, and its explicit exclusion of a television set seems all too appropriate to the alternate reality proposed here. It whispers 'switch-off'. And that’s the kind of command to which today’s busy traveller will be all too happy to comply.