Last month The Curtain Hotel, a new boutique hotel in east London, invited me to check out their modern creature comforts. Because I love being comfortable and modern amenities, I jumped at the chance.
The Curtain is a really special place — a blend of sophistication with cheeky, hip influences. Wisely, the hotel has maximized its space by focusing on smart gathering spaces and unique dining experiences, resulting in two features at The Curtain that set it apart from all the other boutique hotels in London: 1) its heated, year-round rooftop pool; and 2) two dining establishments designed by New York-based chef extraordinaire Marcus Samuelsson (of Red Rooster Harlem fame).
The crowning feature of The Curtain is its rooftop pool and Lido, the Italian/Mediterranean-focused fare at the restaurant directly adjacent to the swimming pool that is open to members of the pool club and guests of the hotel. The soothing gray and beige tones of the restaurant along with Moroccan-inspired tile inlaid into the pool make you feel transported from the hustle-bustle of the largely financial and business district below. Lido’s culinary focus by executive chef Mauro di Leo is on house made flatbreads and pastas, including a creamy, over-the-top cacio e pepe (Pecorino and pepper) pasta dressed with crisp guanciale (cured pork jowl) over fat rolls of rigatoni that will leave you speechless.
Other standout hits were a creamy cod brandade meant for sharing and a in-house made sausage and tenderstem broccoli flatbread dressed with crunchy toasted almonds and flecks of acidic red pepper. A lobster linguine swirled with slightly wilted cherry tomatoes and chilies also hit the spot — it felt seasonally appropriate given our “oceanside” surroundings, and none of the flavors competed with the briny meatiness of the lobster.
Of course, no Mediterranean-inspired poolside would be complete without some raw bar, and Lido doesn’t disappoint with its local offering of West Mersea Native oysters and Carlingford rock oysters. The West Mersea Native oysters, which hail from the eastern shores of England on the island of Mersea just off Essex, are plump and bursting with salt, while the Carlingfords, which hail from Ireland, are sweeter and more delicate. Both are an excellent representation of the shelled delights the British Isles have to offer.
Downstairs, the rooms at The Curtain are cheeky yet comfortable. Pops of bright color, from a green leather half-chaise to punk versions of tartans decorate the rooms, while exposed brick and warm Edison bulb light counterbalance the pizzazz with coziness.
The bathrooms are cooly elegant, with more gorgeous tile reminiscent of the tile in the rooftop pool, and all of the toiletries are Cockney-inspired “Bish Bash Bosh,” designed exclusively for the hotel.
The Curtain is also home to Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Shoreditch, the only Red Rooster outpost outside of Harlem. The London location hosts a sellout weekend Gospel Brunch, and the regular menu features classics from the Harlem location, such as the Fried Yard Bird (£19) with collard greens, yams and beans. For hungrier crowds, the Bird Royale Feast (£44) comes with waffles, Southern-style biscuits and “mac and greens.”
The space itself is also a design marvel, with a playful mix of fabrics, textures and colors that make you search the room for everything and nothing at the same time. It’s a fun place, and I’m looking forward to going back and getting my Southern fried fix (a rarity in London).
For passers-by looking to take advantage of Marcus Samuelsson’s culinary genius without a reservation (either in the hotel or at the sought-after Red Rooster), there’s also Tienda Roosteria just off the lobby at street level. The taco-focused joint is perfect for a drop-in lunch; on Tuesdays, three tacos and a Pacifico will set you back a mere £10. At that price, the tacos practically sell themselves!
My deep, unending love of tacos, a good deal and high design will lead me back to The Curtain very soon; what about you?
Correction: an earlier version of this blog post incorrectly cited Marcus Samuelsson, not Mauro di Leo, as the executive chef of Lido.