The Handbook
The Handbook

Right about now we’re all dreaming of an escape, be that on a jet plane to the land of palm trees and coconut cocktails, or just a quiet room somewhere, free from emptying the dishwasher, the dulcet tones of Peppa Pig and *whisper it* our partner’s incessant whistling/morbid Tier 2 updates/*insert irritant here*.

Hotel group Accor might just have the answer (no, not the one with the palm trees. Sorry). Adapting to the monumental challenges 2020 has thrown at the hospitality industry, they’ve jauntily launched the ‘Hotel Office’. It’s a WFH solution that promises to be much better than actually WFH, dubbed WFA (Working From Anywhere) – and you can still take advantage of it if your area’s in Tier 1 or 2. Rooms can be booked with as little as an hour’s notice, for as long as needed (go for the high speed internet, stay for a bit of human interaction with someone other than your cat. He’ll thank you).

Go for the high speed internet, stay for a bit of human interaction with someone other than your cat...

So, we’re talking a socially isolated, stringently cleaned and specifically adapted working environment set up to cater to your every professional need… with a ton of fun extras to make 5pm fun again. Spitting distance from good coffee (or a stiff drink)? Check. Gyms to work out in at lunchtime? Double check. Conference rooms to take that all-important call? Yep. A fancy mini break the moment you clock off? We’re really not hearing any downsides.

With this in mind, we packed up our pencil cases and set off to try out three London hotels taking part (and little Peppa Pig stayed home)…

Rooms feel luxurious, minus the usual hefty price tag...

Mama Shelter

Achingly hip (and super well-priced) cocktail bar-cum-hotel-cum-workspace Mama Shelter nestled down in a trendy corner in Hackney, moments from Columbia Road, this time last year. It’s not that I’d ever use the word ‘sexy’ to describe a hotel, but really, it is – playful design, laugh out loud slogans (and merch!) put a smile on your face throughout (well, maybe it’s that stuff, maybe it’s the free porn channel in the room. Whichever, everyone’s smiling).

The rooms feel luxurious, but minus the hefty price tag you’d expect. A huge flat screen TV boasts tons of channels, including clean ones, the beds are super lush (lunchtime snooze, anyone?) and we made full use of the cute corner seating area, conveniently placed next to a fancy Charles Bentley kettle, for endless cups of tea between projects. Downstairs, during the day, there’s plenty of space to sit and work while wonderful staff serve up snacks – but room service makes use of the same delicious menu if you prefer your own company (get the sweet potato fries).

What we loved: The Peloton bike in the basement gym. What better way to forget the day’s stresses than smashing a 45 minute Hip Hop spin class? 

Why you should work here: The food is absolutely delicious, and super reasonable (try the chicken and fries with roasted whole garlic bulbs). And despite being minutes from Shoreditch proper, the rooms are pleasingly silent. You can’t beat the feeling of heading downstairs to work your way through the amazing cocktail menu, moments after closing the laptop (if you forget your mask for the short commute, you can buy a very funky one at reception). Also the staff are absolutely divine. And the tiramisu is INCREDIBLE. And if you choose to stay over, you’ll wake up in Shoreditch, where there’s tons to see and do. And, and, and…

www.mamashelter.com

Pullman London St Pancras

Being a rather tall building, the Pullman’s views across London are predictably spectacular. Jumping in the lift, you’ll get an ear-popping, belly-dropping surprise as London opens out in front of you through the window – and the rooms are just as pleasing. We had the pleasure of panoramic views all day, working from a huge glass table in the 850 sq ft Junior Suite. Boasting a spa bath, flat screen TV, kitchenette and two bathrooms, it’s larger than most London flats – and a lot quieter, too.

A relatively large gym area provides plenty of machines and top-notch equipment. It’s a great space to let-off steam, complete with a roof terrace for a spot of yoga on the astro turf, peering out over London’s rooftops.

Heading downstairs for dinner feels super indulgent after a long day, too. We worked up an appetite with an evening HIIT session, then feasted on Padron peppers and steak – delicious.

We worked up an appetite with an evening HIIT session, then feasted on Padron peppers and steak...

What we loved: You’re right next door to the British Library (where you’ll find the Magna Carta and handwritten Beatles lyrics) as well as the British Museum, plus a little further on there’s Camden Market, Regents Park and Granary Square. Perfect for some socially distanced downtime.

Why you should work here: Private zoom zones and hybrid meeting spaces help the day’s work fly by – not to mention high speed premium Wifi and the Business Playground on the 15th floor. When all is done for the day, the GA Kings X Bar begs to be explored (offering up 50 Tastes Of Gin, no less).

www.pullmanlondonstpancras.com

Novotel London Bridge

The least boujie choice of the three, but highly functional and exceptionally clean, Novotel’s rooms have all the tech you need – there are seven meeting rooms should you need them, but we much appreciated the high speed internet, radio and in-room data port. Back at ‘your temporary ‘home’, you still get the benefit of a proper desk and chair, plus a huge, super soft bed to catch a quick nap after an intense project or when THAT meeting’s finally over.

A small gym area offers a couple of running machines and a cross trainer, plus a selection of mats. We watched an online resistance training class on our phones, taking advantage of the extensive weights collection while we could – anyone else still struggling to buy any for home use? You can make the most of your room’s rainfall shower afterwards, too.

What we loved: Covid-19 saw the unexpected death of the buffet, but here breakfast is laid out behind a glass screen… so you can still get the ‘holiday’ experience of picking out literally every carb in sight if you opt to stay overnight! A kindly server plates it up for you, so they’ll be privy to your croissant addiction – but don’t worry, they’re very discreet…

Order a Dutch Baby. A lot sweeter, and far less creepy, than it sounds...

Why you should work here: Many of the rooms have a great view of South London, with the Shard lighting up the skyline. When you’ve got a spare hour, it’s easy to wander to the South Bank for a coffee – or our personal fav brunch spot, Where The Pancakes Are, is minutes away (order a Dutch Baby. A lot sweeter, and far less creepy, than it sounds). 

www..accor.com

All in all, we absolutely loved this experiment – a safe and fun way to switch things up a bit while life is decidedly more dull, yet anything but ‘normal’. At first, the concept of paying to commute again was a little daunting… until that Peppa Pig theme tune started playing again…


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