Effortlessly edgy hotel The Curtain slots perfectly into its Shoreditch surroundings, with exposed brick walls and custom artwork by Mick Rock. If the dulcet tones of a live gospel choir (who sing every Sunday) don't rouse you to try the soul food at chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant, the scent of chicken 'n' waffles will. There’s also an adjacent taqueria and a Mediterranean restaurant beside the glittering rooftop pool. A hefty helping of bars serve up a wide range of wines, whiskies and cocktails curated by hip, sustainability-focused drinks outfit Trash Tiki; more surprises await in the basement: a members’ club, screening room, 24-hour gym, and a spa that operates a pop-up-style rotation of the newest pampering treatments.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability (and for an extra charge). Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £192.50, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates include a welcome drink at reception on arrival and some include English breakfast (for room only rates English breakfast costs £25, Continental £17 and à la carte items start at £9).
Not only is the Vault at the Curtain open 24 hours a day and filled with cutting-edge training equipment – including a trapeze-reminiscent TRX set-up – but it’s also manned by four personal trainers at all times. This isn’t your run-of-the-(tread)mill hotel fitness-room, but a modern gym in which you’ll have access to London’s leading fitness experts, dynamic music-filled yoga sessions and rave-worthy Boom Cycle spin classes in the basement club. Guests staying in the Curtain Suite can join yoga classes for free on Saturdays (for up to two guests).
At the hotel
Spa, members’ club, screening room, ballroom, gym, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: a flatscreen TV, Marshall Bluetooth speaker, tea- and coffee-making kit with Ozone coffee, fully-stocked minibar, bottled water, La Bottega bath products.
Our favourite rooms
We love the Shoreditch Suite’s cheeky claw-foot bath tub, set in full view of the bed. For a room with a (less naughty) view, the Junior Terrace Suite has a private, city-gazing outdoor space for you, your special guest, and three more of your closest friends.
The rooftop plunge pool is just big enough for leisurely laps and looks out over the graffiti-splattered surrounds of east London. There’s a submerged bench along one side of the pool, and white-cushioned sunloungers are laid out along a wrap-around terrace.
Welcoming an array of pop-ups, the Curtain Spa collaborates with the best brands in pampering and wellness; the rotating menu covers facials, massages, sports physiotherapy and beautifying treatments. The spa has three treatment rooms, a sauna, mani-pedi stations and a hairdresser; there’s also a chill-out area where guests can relax with home-made granola bars and healthy juices.
Grow a beard and pack pop-culture-referencing tees and accessories if you really want to fit in with the locals…
All public areas of the hotel are wheelchair accessible and some of the Courtyard and City rooms are adapted for limited mobility, as is the Curtain Suite.
Well-behaved dogs can stay for £35 a night; they’re allowed in rooms and in Lido, Billy’s, the Green Room and the courtyard of Red Rooster (but not the main bit of the restaurant). Book in advance for dog-sitting and dog-walking. See more pet-friendly hotels in London.
Welcome, but not catered to (there’s a bar around every corner).
In Red Rooster, pull up a bar stool by the open kitchen to watch the chefs in action, or cosy up on the blue-velvet sofas.
A little rock-star leather, a hint of brightly coloured Mexican-inspired finery to match Red Rooster's vibrancy and something that subtly shows off that artful tattoo.
Like its sister restaurant in Harlem, Red Rooster Shoreditch focuses on American comfort food. Founder and acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson has dreamed up a menu with classics from the flagship – cornbread with honey butter and chicken ‘n’ waffles with hot Bourbon maple-syrup. Dishes dreamed up exclusively for the Shoreditch outpost include herring with horseradish and pickled turnips, and lamb meatballs with gnocchi. There’s a stage at one end of this vibrantly-decorated diner for daily live music, including a gospel choir on Sundays. Red Rooster courtyard has a retractable roof, half-moon sofa and an enclosed smoking area where you’ll find the Hatch, a bar window through which you can order rum-laced hot chocolate in the winter and refreshing ice creams in the warmer months. Poolside Lido Brasserie is a fresh Mediterranean-style restaurant with an extensive wine list. The ceiling and glass walls are both fully retractable, so on London’s rare warm days, you can dine alfresco, under the shade of a pergola.
Drinks in the Green Room – the concrete-floored lobby-level bar that’s decked out in rich velvets, metallic accents and floor-to-ceiling murals – are curated by the hotel’s drinks mastermind Jenny Willing. The cocktails are inspired by the local area – there’s East London Liquor Company demerara rum in the Baby Grand, London turmeric honey in the Forbidden Fruit, and a dash of E5 sourdough in the Bread and Butter Sazarace. Trash Tiki, the anti-waste cocktail specialists, have curated the drinks for the hotel’s other two bars. Red Rooster’s drinks menu takes a cue from its food with a rum- and turmeric-laced JL Swizzle and a Lindy Hop Sour with bourbon and blood-orange. Basement bar Billy’s is members-only; the drinks list has classic cocktails and an impressive array of whiskies.
Red Rooster is open from noon to 1am (2am Thursdays and Fridays) during the week, and 11am to 2am on the weekend. Tienda Roosteria is open daily from 7am to 2am; breakfast there or up at the Lido Brasserie from 7am to 11am.
Cheese boards, club sandwiches, salads, fully-loaded bagels, chips and more can be delivered to your room at any time of the day or night.
Hip hotel the Curtain is smack-bang in the middle of Shoreditch, across the street from the site of a theatre by the same name, used by Shakespeare’s company before they migrated south of the river to the Globe.
London City Airport is the closest to the hotel, around a 30-minute drive, and London Heathrow is an hour away by car; call the Smith24 Team to arrange flights. The hotel can arrange transfers from both (price on request).
Liverpool Street Station serves the overground and London underground; it’s a mile from the hotel; call ahead to arrange transfers, or stroll through Shoreditch if you’re light on luggage. On the opposite side of the hotel, Old Street underground station is on the Northern line and connects to Saint Pancras, Euston and London Bridge.
There’s no need to drive yourself around London, but if you are arriving in your own set of wheels, there’s a car park across the street; rates start from £16 for two hours.
Worth getting out of bed for
Explore the markets of Spitalfields and Brick Lane, or street-food market Dinerama in warmer months. Rent a sleek and stylish cycle from Tokyobike and explore the city on two wheels, or arrange for a guided tour of East London’s famous street art or where to pap the best souvenir pics. Nostalgics can check out Bethnal Green’s V&A Museum of Childhoodand those with more out-there tastes should poke around the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities(stop into the Flower Warehouse next door afterwards to admire their cacti collection). If you’re up bright and early on a Sunday, stroll over to the Columbia Road Flower Market(it kicks off at 8am, and we’d recommend going early) for your weekly fill of authentic hawking and a colour wheel-spanning blooms. In summer, bring a blanket to London Fields to experience the local parklife, plus a game of Plonk's crazy-golf. Later on, turn to the programme at the Oval Space for one-of-a-kind club nights.
Peruvian restaurant Andina dishes out fresh, healthy fare inspired by the cuisine of the Andes (and a Pisco-heavy cocktail menu too); go for brunches and dinners of sharing plates, including all manner of ceviche and hot corn-cakes. Kiwi chef-led The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell is light and oh-so-aesthetically appealing. Start with the signature sugar-cured-prawn omelette with smoked-chilli sambal, then work your way to mains such as pink-peppercorn duck with clementine noodles and pistachio or miso-roast lamb rump with pancetta purée; save room for after-dinner cocktails, cheese plates and heady desserts. Leroy is the passion project of sommeliers Ed Thaw and Jack Lewens and chef Sam Kamienko, where high-quality ingredients are presented in European dishes and the wines are excellent, as you'd expect.
Can’t get enough of your in-room, locally-roasted coffee? Head to Leonard street for breakfast, brunch or an afternoon pick-me-up at Ozone Coffee; order eggs with halloumi and kimchi, traditional or vegetarian full-English breakfasts, freshly-baked treats and seriously smooth coffee; be sure to grab a bag of recently-roasted beans to take home with you, too. E Pellicci's is an East London institution with retro decor that's not changed a jot over the years; go for their generous fry-up or a sandwich list as long as their tenure. For a trendy take on traditional bacon-butties, the Spitalfields outpost of St John is famed for its rare-breed porky sandwiches, grilled kipper on sourdough toast, and freshly-baked and filled doughnuts. Afternoon coffees are genteel and relaxed at Shoreditch’s Albion; cosy up at a table inside, or order your cup of joe to go and explore while you sip.
There’s no shortage of bars in the Curtain (eight at last count), but if you’d like to venture out, since the area is renowned for its cocktails, Coupette is a French-accented drinkery set in a 160-year-old building offering outrageously decadent – yet moreish – champagne piña coladas. Satan's Whiskers has friendly bartenders and drinks that'll make you equally amiable after a few… If beer's more your thing, Mother Kelly's taproom and bottle shop is a short trot away. For a slice of traditional pub life head to Columbia Road’s Royal Oak; on warmer days, make a beeline to the beer garden in the back.
I arrive late onto the cobbled streets of Shoreditch and, of course, it’s pouring with rain.
Sludging into the lobby of the Curtain, I’m greeted by the concierge. The welcome to London is a lot warmer than the weather.
As they show me to my second floor room, there’s not much more on my mind than sleep. I happily spy the USB charger next to the pillow, plug my phone in and climb into the pillowy comfort of the king-sized bed.
To attest to its comfort, I snooze past my alarm the next morning so order breakfast to my room: eggs benedict dripping in hollandaise sauce and an iced coffee – just the way I like it
I’m all for quiet mornings so I enjoy my breakfast-in-bed while reading a book and doing a bit of work before I start my day proper.
When I do, I make my way down to the basement gym where I’m genuinely excited. Good gym aesthetics are hard to come by but this one – clean, sizeable, mirror-and-wood-lined, well organised and filled with every type of equipment you could possibly need – is a triumph. Post-workout I head back upstairs to the steam shower which is like having your own personal spa day – I walk out a new man.
As I lay on the bed staring at the gold and black wallpapered ceiling, my eyes catch the subtle silver lining of the curtains that fall to the floor. One side of the room has a London-appropriate exposed brick wall; the other an exclusive textured wallpaper reminiscent of a rock-star’s green room.
I’m delighted by the drink station, too. Beautiful crystal rocks glasses surround a slew of very well-selected spirits and a cocktail recipe kit to help you make your own. I look forward to impressing some friends with gin martinis of my very own crafting later that evening.
Before I head out to explore the neighbourhood, I’ve a bit more work to finish and a hunger to satisfy. I head up to the airy, open rooftop restaurant and glance out at the pool perched on the edge of the building overlooking the Shoreditch skyline. It’s a bit too gloomy for a swim but I imagine how nice an Aperol spritz with my feet in the water would be on a warm summer day.
You do get a sense of warmth from the inside of the restaurant, though – almost as if you’re at a balmy beach club in the Med. I sit at a small circular table and order the grilled chicken which arrives perfectly cooked, simply seasoned, and scattered with fresh parmesan on top. I barely stop to breathe, it’s that enjoyable a lunch.
Satisfied, I head out into Shoreditch to shop and grab some drinks. It’s a five-minute walk to some of my favourite bars and restaurants – Good Hood, for one, is filled with great designer clothes and a winning selection of homewear. I spend the rest of the afternoon stopping off at recommended restaurants and coffee shops before heading back to my room for a pre-dinner nap. Sleep couldn't have come any easier.
You could end up spending your entire stay inside this artfully-designed hotel (they even send a sundowner drinks cart around each evening) but you’d end up missing out, given its easy-to-get-around East London location.
I didn’t want to miss out on acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson’s soul food at the Red Rooster outpost downstairs, though. I grab a seat at the bar, order a negroni and work my way through two starters (devilled eggs and a salad) and the Harlem-style chicken ‘n’ waffles in an atmosphere that’s more well-loved locals spot than newly-opened hotel restaurant. It’s delicious, in short. The breakfast I have the next morning on the (now sunlit) roof terrace is just as good.
I make another trip to the gym, too – it feels like I have my own personal membership, after all. Eventually, though, it comes time for the curtain to fall on my Curtain stay. It’s been great – that clever blend of rock ‘n’ roll attitude and stone-walled old London that I love so much. In fact, it blends in so well with its Shoreditch surroundings, you’d think it had been there since the Bard’s time (much like its long-demolished namesake theatre).
As I leave, I learn there’s even an on-site tattoo parlour, although you have to gain access to the exclusive members' club to be eligible for an inking. Ah well. Maybe next time…