As the pandemic receded, many speculated about the prospect of a glorious re-run of the Roaring Twenties. London would become more hedonistic and experimental as the once locked-down city sought to make up for lost time. With the cost of rent plummeting amid a middle-class flight to the countryside, the capital would become only more artsy bohemian.
Through the first half of the year, such stubborn hope buoyed a bevy of high-profile hotel openings in the capital, from the glitzy Londoner – a hotel-meets-members-club in Leicester Square – to One Hundred Shoreditch, a discerning new playground for grown-up hipsters. Sadly, amid inflation and geopolitical uncertainty, the reality has shifted: London, like the rest of the UK, is set for a re-run of the grim 1970s.
In such a context, Amano Covent Garden feels like an appropriate newcomer. With paintings of nipple-flashing ballerinas and exhibitionist “goldfish” bathrooms, it is ragingly, fabulously German. That means it is also conscious of price. The Berlin hotel group’s first UK property aims to bring the German capital’s brand of salacious, streetwise cool to our capital – with rooms in the middle of Covent Garden starting at £153 for a July Sunday night.
It could turn out to be a solid formula. Berlin did, after all, emerge as Europe’s “Babylon” amid the hyperinflation and political disarray of the Weimar era. In dark times, sauce sells– preferably at a price that offers value for money.
The Thursday evening that I stayed felt like a Saturday night. The Bauhaus architecture books on the lobby coffee table pulsated to house music from a party in the basement. Every so often a tittering throng would waft out of one of the lifts clutching cocktail glasses.
“The rooftop bar is on the seventh floor and your room is number 317,” the receptionist informed me, reflecting the establishment’s order of priority. My room was fabulous, but we will come to that later, because in line with the hotel ethos, no sooner had I flung my overnight bag on my sumptuous cotton bed than I was skipping back to the lift and up to the rooftop for a tipple.
Sky high decadence
As far as London rooftop bars go, Amano’s is a gem, with both an indoor and outdoor space and eye-popping views of the city skyline. I sipped on the signature Fume cocktail – with smoked pineapple liquor and sherry – while watching the London Eye sparkle against a purpling sunset. The rhubarb Old Tom was as tangy as the fresh summer night. While the cocktails, priced at £16 each, are hardly cheap as chips, some patrons were happily eking out their night by sticking with beer. The vibe was hard to pinpoint: relaxed but also slightly revelling, unstuffy but clubby, the waiters consummate professionals but with a glint in their eyes.
The interior spaces felt familiarly pitched to millennial tastes. The hotel drips with hipster-chic, from the elaborate lightbulb installations to lashings of brushed gold. Lavender pots skim the rooftop walls. But there is also a dash of the unpredictable. You might find yourself stumbling on an S&M photo in the lavatory or being ogled by a crystal skull behind the bar.
I eventually wandered down to my room for a showdown with my bathtub. Showdown really is the right word. The “Goldy” rooms are blessed with gold rolltops set against floor-to-ceiling windows that look onto Covent Garden’s theatreland. I opted to close the black curtains, but I have no doubt that other guests may feel tempted to take the dare. For the price, I was uncertain what trimmings my downtown room would come with, but I was pleased to see a robe, slippers, Raw Sea Elements bathing products, and a choice of kettle and coffee machine.
While Amano is known for its food and beverage offerings, the hotel is not launching its restaurant until the autumn – an increasingly common trend in the post-Covid era. For now, guests can enjoy a standout Israeli-inspired breakfast buffet spread with couscous, hummus and Middle-Eastern sweets among a plentiful supply of smoked salmon and boiled eggs. Solid, healthy hangover food, in other words.
London influencers have tipped Amano to become staple on the capital’s party scene. I am inclined to agree with them. In these times more than ever, the newbie’s brand of quirky hedonism seems a good fit.
How to do it: Rooms at Amano Covent Garden (020 3739 8900, amanogroup.de) start at £153 a night, not including breakfast.