Social enterprises, entrepreneurs who address social themes by developing new business concepts, are becoming quite a trend around the world, but funnily enough not in London, especially in the hospitality sector.
This had to change, according to Nick Hartwright, who at this moment is pioneering with various projects for creative people in order to provide them with the space they need to work and live in the metropolis. The underlying idea is that artists are very important to large cities, but are often unable to settle there because of the sky-high rents of living- and working spaces. And so, together with Kurt Bredenbeck, the man behind the first Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, Annette Russell, previously employed in the music industry and now General Manager of Green Rooms and Dan Turner, PR consultant, Nick developed a hotel concept that is unique in London, where creative minds are offered a place to spend the night, work, exhibit their work and interact: Green Rooms London! In close cooperation with the local governments, they chose the Wood Green area in North East London as a location for their hotel. This up and coming neighbourhood is a true melting pot of cultures and social classes. A great advantage is its accessibility by subway, the Piccadilly Line, which also runs a night tube service, stops across the street and is the perfect starting point for a trip to downtown London.
Green Rooms opened its doors mid-2016, after an extensive restoration of the beautiful art deco office block dating from 1935. The industrial building, previously home to the offices and showroom of the North Metropolitan Power and Electricity Company, had been vacant for years. Fortunately, several original details were preserved… for instance the tile floors are stunning!
When I visited Green Rooms, a few months after its opening, I was impressed with how smoothly things were running already. The communal lobby with bar and restaurant is popular among the locals and is perfect for drinks or dinner. The concept of offering rotational residencies to emerging restaurateurs, who are thus given the opportunity to prove themselves to the general public, is really interesting – when I was there, a Colombian chef prepared street food. And, thank God, there’s nothing pretentious or uber hip about it. The rooms vary from dormitory rooms with shared bathroom facilities, to double rooms with en-suite bathrooms, double rooms with shared bathroom facilities and studio apartments that sleep four and feature en-suite bathrooms. Something for everyone, in other words, and all the rooms are equally comfortable…. and very affordable, which is great, especially for artists (a broad concept at Green Rooms, for this includes everyone working in the arts or has an artistic hobby), who get a discount on the already very reasonable rates. In short, a perfect way to visit London in an economical way, without compromising on comfort and atmosphere.
Naturally, Green Rooms also employs creative people…at the reception, behind the bar etc… which is great, for they are the ones who give Green Rooms soul. They visibly enjoy what they’re doing and are genuinely interested in their guests. They make all the difference! Green Rooms reminded me a lot of the Michelberger Hotel in Berlin. A place for broad-minded people, authentic and not too trendy. A social creative melting pot….I think it’s a real asset to London!