Openings: The Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

It seems like a not very long time ago, Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa were giving a press conference in a room full of media cognoscenti in Tribeca, NYC, to announce that their fruitful Nobu restaurant partnership was giving birth to a hotel venture of the same name. Yet that was already nine years ago now; and one year after that, the first property opened at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

Thirteen hotels later, the company opened its first property under the global pandemic conditions (Palo Alto re-opened in fall of 2020 after a makeover) – with the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square debuting in December, and closing two weeks later due to Covid restrictions. Now finally ready to open for real, it must be said that the hotel is an absolute stunner, located on its namesake square in an elegant corner of Marylebone, one of our fave London neighborhoods. The plan actually required the beloved Nobu Berkeley Street to be shuttered after fifteen years in its previous Mayfair location, and moved to just beyond the Northeastern corner of Hyde Park, where the hotel now sits geographically.

Upon entering the lobby, one is immediately treated to a visual feast, with a five-meter-high metal installation by British sculptor Ivan Black front and center, and a dramatic lighting sculpture by renowned glass-blower Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert dangling above reception. Upstairs, the 249 rooms and suites (by Make Architects) are done up in the brand’s signature style, a kind of cosseting minimalism, with warm woods, and understatedly elegant furnishings. There are some specifically Japanese touches, like stoneware tea sets, and cool, abstract graphics – while a number of the rooms have terraces overlooking the square.

But one comes to Nobu to eat in style, surely; and The Lounge and Nobu Bar & Restaurant have all been stunningly designed by the exalted David Collins Studio. The sleekly sophisticated signature eatery is characterized by muted but refined color schemes, offset by bold splashes of yellow, with wraparound windows, a handsomely coffered ceiling, and rows of pendant lamps hanging above the seating. The menu features all the Nobu favorites, like the Wagyu Dumplings with Spicy Ponzu, Arctic Char with Crispy Shiso, Crispy Pork Belly with Apple Wasabi Salsa and wood oven Creamy Spicy Snow Crab. An Omakase menu is available for £92 per person.

Notably, there’s also a year-round terrace, ideal for what is sure to be the lingering wariness of the post-virus world we are now working our way towards.

London is surely first on our list for a visit once the travel restrictions have been lifted. And while the re-ignited, late-night goings on of East London / Shoreditch (where there happens to be another Nobu hotel) could be great for a serious stress release, a few cultivated days of culture (The British Museum and Royal Academy of Arts are close by) and good food in Marylebone are likely more suited to our psyche right now. We’ll see you at the bar at Nobu.

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