‘We had to break it to her that she was in the wrong hotel,’ smiles our new BFF from Bermonds Locke over a bouncy red-or-three in their buzzy co-working space. ‘She was absolutely. Gutted.’
The crestfallen lady of our tale had walked into Locke’s brand new outpost in London’s swinging Bermondsey after booking a penny-pricewise few days up in town, and was expecting… well, the sort of thing you’d expect for under £100 a night in one of the world’s priciest cities. So when she walked into a light-drenched expanse of cool, where bright young-to-middle-aged things in all the right denim sipping artisanal coffee tapped away at their MacBooks while a sexy video installation played against a white-washed wall behind them and up, over there, beyond the slick-but-not-too-slick check-in desk the last of an early autumn sun was pawing over the communal courtyard and, in the distance, the telltale hullabaloo of an early dinner setting in an industrial-lite restaurant – perhaps one from a highly acclaimed chef, who can say? – wafted through the air that was scented with its own bespoke, sweet perfume, well, she thought she’d won the hotel lottery.
‘I’m afraid your hotel’s next door, madam.’ Thank god they didn’t show her the rooms.
Because Bermonds Locke – the fifth in a line of zeitgeisty hotel… let’s call them ‘concepts’ for the want of a better cliché, from Locke – has nailed it so hard they’re going to have to get considerably bigger nails. What Locke have done is take everything the savvy traveller (or the stylish local, they don’t mind) wants, plus a whole bunch of things they don’t know they want yet, and created oases of all of the above in the coolest neighbourhoods in the coolest cities on the planet.
London came first (natch. There are two others, plus several more on the verge), there’s a beaut of a one called Eden Locke in Edinburgh’s New Town while Manchester’s takes over a massive warehouse right by the Gay Village; Dublin’s next, then comes the Euro takeover (Berlin, Lisbon, Munich) and then, at this rate, the world. The US totally needs this schizz.
Each has its own identity (wily. Getting different architects to design each one will sort that out), but the principal remains the same; accessible, affordable, sexy lifestyle hubs to stay in, hang out in, work in, work out in, eat in, drink in, drink some more in; for an hour, a day, a week, several months if you’re in the mood. A place to be. And they can totally have that line.
And Bermonds Locke has gone totally SoCal (‘Southern California’ in old money) on our asses, which is down to designers Holloway Li who were inspired by the Mojave Desert and jaunts to Joshua Tree. So you’ve got avenues of architectural succulents splashed against sun-scorched tones and walls of reflective brass, while the industrial remnants of the office block that once was (concrete, steel, you know the drill) makes it all pop. And because you’re nothing if you’re not sustainable, much of what’s around you is reused; the bricks holding up that communal table you’re working on, for example. A massive, milky, orby moon dangles over the check-in desk to complete the sizzling desert metaphor. You should see it when you’re a bottle or so down.
Upstairs it’s rooms-and-then-some. They call it an aparthotel – which is far too prosaic a term for this lot, because here it means gorgeous, cleverly-designed spaces with nifty, well-stocked kitchenettes to boot including, seeing as you ask, a washing machine and a dishwasher. So it’s a hotel room-cum-studio apartment, only way nicer than most studio apartments any of us have ever been in. Always bold with their colours (we got an all-kinds-of-blue studio up top, iconic views of The Shard and a Mexico-chic four-poster bed) the spec is never-knowingly not to-die-for, with fresh, zingy bathrooms and gorgeous little design touches, like the moon-inspired dim-lights by the bed and the baby-soft throws and the Taschen coffee table books for your pleasure. Even the crockery’s gorgeous, goddamit. The idea is it works as a hotel if you’re looking for a hotel but it also works as a little self-contained flat. Only one with really cool stuff downstairs.
And from dawn till dusk downstairs is buzzing. Breakfast is from Shaman, the in-Locke artisanal café, where it’s planet-friendly mixed oat porridge or smashed avocado on sourdough (it’s amazing how many places get this wrong, but they get it so right) or ‘Delicat’ Shakshuka; during the day Shaman also do the honours with very good caffeine hits for those hip/happening co-workers then, as the sun sets, the corks are popped and the work-y vibes slip fun-wards. Round the back is Bermondsey Larder, from the people who brought you The Dairy, which some of you may know from Clapham Common fame. It’s not there any more, everyone’s decamped here. And Robin Gill’s gone and done it again; pretty darn incredible global plates in a fun-positive atmosphere with staff who really know their stuff. By which we mainly mean wine.
We had to ask for a vegan menu which, sure, is a bugbear for the plant-based among us but, bearing in mind we gave, ooh, ten minutes’ notice, the results were knock-us-sideways stunning. I’m just going to say something about a cornucopia of the freshest courgettes and tomatoes and radicchios and smoked artichokes and middle-eastern spices and freshly-baked flatbreads with black garlic and kicky little peperonatas because, well, too busy enjoying it actually forgot to take notes. But if you are going à la carte, people are raving over it.
Locke have created something pretty special. Taken the zeitgeist, run with it, then run even further. In Bermonds Locke’s case, into a bright Californian sun. Crucially, they’ve made it affordable. Because they don’t think the good life should be off limits. If you’re in luck, you can get a night here for £99, much less if you’re in for the long haul. You’ll be buggered if you get a dank, dingy room for that in a… let’s just say ubiquitous hotel chain and leave it there. Just ask that lady who was staying next door.
Opening rates from £99