Friday, 16 May 2014

Escaping Reality at Shoreditch House

In my (often imagined) parallel universe, weekends with the family would be a leisurely confluence of long brunches, coffee drinking, strolls round parks and perhaps a mooch around some nice little shops/cafes/markets. Of course the kids would be quite happy with these arrangements, we'd all get along famously and then we'd come home, feeling rested and restored for the week ahead. The reality, is of course, a little different, with most weekends - even ones that are supposed to be 'quiet' - passing in a blur of drop offs and pick ups from various activities or social engagements. 'Downtime' constitutes a snatched half hour with the Sunday paper and a cuppa, carried out with a nagging sense of guilt that we should really be using any kid-free moments to do something productive: ironing school uniform, helping with homework or finding out out why there's a damp patch in the spare room...Being able to escape these responsibilities every so often is a real sanity-saver and one I'm happy to pay good money for. For a couple of days each year we leave our children in the very caring and capable hands of their grandparents and take off, just the two of us, coming back to our 'real' lives a little more human again.

Shoreditch House
So it was last weekend we found ourselves enjoying the sanctuary that is Shoreditch House in East London. While London might not suggest the most obvious 'go to' place to escape life's stresses, this hotel is a true oasis of calm. It's not cheap, sure, but it's also not prohibitively expensive, and as a special treat it's absolutely worth every penny. A 'tiny room' will set you back around £165 a night, with larger rooms upwards of £200. To keep a handle on costs we opted for the 'tiny' option and were pleasantly surprised by our room's size - it was roomier than we'd been expecting and we didn't get that nagging feeling of wishing we'd paid out more for a bit more space. Like everything else at Shoreditch House, the decorative style is just my thing - comfy but elegant with lots of quirky, vintage touches. It's a look that has become a bit ubiquitous but the vintage stuff in this place is the real deal and it shows. I fell in love with it all and am considering buying the hotel's style guide, 'Eat, Drink, Nap' to try and bring a little bit of its vibe to my own home (well, a girl can dream!)

Amazing furniture and lighting
Perhaps the real lure of this place isn't the rooms and luxurious bathrooms - filled with Cowshed products from its downstairs spa - but the sense that you've really escaped from the world outside. This vibe is particularly evident around the top floor, open-roof pool, a place that oozes languor. There's something deliciously indulgent about lazing on a day bed in the middle of the day, with a drink close to hand, engaging in nothing more strenuous than a little bit of people watching. 

On the subject of people watching, Shoreditch House is obviously a fashionable place, attracting an accordingly hip clientele, including a mix of club members and hotel guests. But there's a nice feel to the place without much hint of pretension. We saw several families during our stay, who were enjoying full use of the pool without feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable. Hubby and I didn't feel as confident taking a dip with an audience of trendy types looking over us, so we saved our al fresco swim for the following morning when we enjoyed the pool completely to ourselves - an amazing way to begin the day. The pool is fully heated and the views across the city's skyscrapers are fantastic. 

The stunning rooftop pool
There are two main restaurants on site, as well as the next door pizza restaurant, Pizza East, which we ate at on a previous trip to London and loved (it serves perhaps the best pizzas in London, I reckon.) This time we couldn't resist the pull of the top floor restaurant, which is a light-filled, beautiful space with unbroken views over the London skyline. Buzzy at night, relaxed over breakfast, we fell in love with this place and enjoyed a lovely dinner and even nicer breakfast. Prices are, like rooms, not exorbitant and I'd have paid more for the luxury of enjoying a delicious breakfast (full English for him - £12, AMAZING pancakes with blueberries and mascarpone for me - £6) in such beautiful surroundings. 
Top floor restaurant 
Singer Paloma Faith walked in mid breakfast which felt appropriate - you kind of want to see someone a bit famous when you're staying at a fashionable East London hotel, even if you're not allowed to take a sneaky pic. Shoreditch House has a 'no mobiles' policy which is another reason to love it - it's a joyous thing not to see all and sundry hunched over or yelling into a smart phone for once. That said, I did manage to take a few pics; the rule isn't strictly upheld, it seems, but you definitely feel you shouldn't be taking photos or even having your phone in view while at Shoreditch House - a GOOD THING!

To say our whole experience here was blissful is an understatement. The best things in life might be free but there's also something to be said for buying a bit of R&R every now and again...

LOVE the chairs (& tiles, lights, etc...)
To find out more about Shoreditch House and its sister properties in London, visit the website here.

For a more budget-friendly alternative just up the road on Great Eastern Street, I recommend the fantastic Hoxton Hotel - read more about our stay there here.
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