If you are serious about your sashimi, any new outpost from iconic sushi brand Nobu will no doubt make your feasting hit list.
When chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper, announced Nobu’s 13th hotel worldwide was to land on London’s Portman Square, in the heart of well-heeled Marylebone, moments away from the wine bars and boutiques of New Quebec Street and a stone’s throw from Selfridge’s, bookings racked up fast.
The slick new 249-bedroom hotel and restaurant, designed by David Collins Studio, represents the relocation of Nobu Berkeley Street, but its initial launch in December 2020 was unexpectedly short-lived, as the hotel was forced to close within days of launching when we rolled into lockdown 3.0.
Now, with its doors proudly back open, the venue is once again buzzing and just unveiled a smart new gin terrace and fancy wellness offering, Nobu Pilates - a first for the brand worldwide.
Step into the light-filled double-height lobby over which a seven-metre kinetic silver sculpture hangs created by British artist Ivan Black, which plays with light throughout the day - and you’ll feel calmer already thanks to the zen-inducing minimal Japanese design. In a muted yet sophisticated palette of neutrals - think greys, creams and browns - the décor is simple but no less impactful.
Wander through to the Lobby Lounge, which is centred around an art deco-style bar serving up a healthy selection of sakes, whiskies and gins, and you’ll notice more colour, specifically accents of green to reflect the greenery of the square it overlooks.
The party vibes start when you reach the darkened Nobu Bar (also on the ground floor) which features traditional Japanese indigo raku tiles and atmospheric table lamps. Upstairs, the huge new open-plan Nobu restaurant can host 192 covers and heaves by night.
Food & drink
Onto the food, because that’s obviously why you’re here. Not knowing where to start with the menu of now iconic Japanese-Peruvian fusion dishes, we indulged in chef’s tasting menu, shovelling down ridiculously moreish rock shrimp tempura, salivating over the melt-in-your-mouth miso black cod, and marvelling at the simplicity yet sheer tastiness of a baby spinach salad with truffle and chunks of succulent lobster – arguably the star of the show.
The vibe also delivered. When we visited the restaurant in December it was absolutely thronging, low-lit, fun and glam. Months later, on a second visit to the newly opened terrace, which is supposed to offer an authentic slice of Haru (Japanese spring), we chowed down on yet more signature Nobu dishes washed down with probably too many Roku gin – impeccable service topped the evening off.
Nobu Pilates, which is exclusive to Portman Square, is headed up by the incredibly talented Marsha Lindsay. As creative director of Nobu Pilates, she has carefully curated three energising workouts with different focuses. Choose from Power, a HIIT-style Pilates class that incorporates a mini trampoline attached to the end of the carriage and involves deceptively hard choreographed jumps to build strength and lengthen muscles; Precision, a class that focuses on either the upper body or lower body to sculpt and lengthen limbs; or Pure, the closest to an original Joseph Pilates class, which incorporates the reformer carriage, tower and chairs to help you build a rock-hard core. The impressive fitness space, featuring a large and airy reformer studio and gym, are also operating as a members-only fitness space in they’re own right - though non-members can also take classes.
Balconies! That you can get onto! At least we had one in our one bedroom suite, which made a very special place to sip my Japanese morning tea overlooking the Marylebone rooftops in one of the hotel’s stylish yukata robes (which, by the way, I would have paid good money to keep). Rooms keep within the minimal theme, with emperor beds featuring leather headboards and crisp white linen bedsheets (400 thread count, no less) and generous marble bathrooms with huge tubs and a walk in showers, plus all of the lovely little extras like Mauli rituals bath salts and Grown Alchemist amenities.
Nobu has partnered with a number of local independent businesses to offer guests who are partial to a spot of retail therapy a more unique and authentic shopping experience in the capital. Take perfumery Ostens, located in a townhouse on nearby New Quebec Street, where you can go and have a bespoke fragrance discovery experience with founders Laurent Delafon and Christopher Yu, who work with some of the best noses in the business.
Sushi-lovers (obvs) and shopaholics, who want to make a no-expenses-spared night of it or business travellers looking for a more luxurious and spacious stay while visiting the capital.
Room rates start from £345 including VAT (room only) london-portman.nobuhotels.com