Mary Gostelow dines out – and stays Japanese in London

Girlahead visits Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

Picnics in parks evokes such fond memories. In Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, pre-order a box for two from Botanic House and dine off Luke Nguyen’s slow-cooked spiced Wagyu brisket and lychee pudding, with cans of T’Gallant Prosecco. In London, go for Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature miso cod, eaten alfresco in Portman Square, which is technically a lush garden on a square bit of land.

Stay at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square and, indeed, there are a myriad of unusual experiences. Ask one of the hotel’s concierge-types, say Andrew (who has strong New Zealand in his multinational background) to arrange a Nobu hamper, plus suitably-chilled Laurent-Perrier, and a rug. Take all this over the crossing of Upper Berkeley Street and Gloucester Place – a total of five minutes’ walk – and into Portman Square, the late 18th century garden exclusive to those who live immediately around the square, plus hotel guests.
Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, owned by L&R, is ageless lifestyle.

The two-floor lobby, by architects David Collins Studio, is highlighted by oodles of glass walls, and a ceiling-hung futuristic sculpture. Another stand-out is the really impressive warm staff. Without exception they’re young, enthusiastic and chic, dressed by Nicholas Oakwell in black – did he also choreograph the multi-coloured beads at the ends of one guy’s Afro beads? Women seem to dance, some in floating-wings jackets based, suitably, on origami.

Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, Lounge

Rooms in this 249-room treasure have a hint of Japan but more of the world, with such touchpoints as Himalayan salts for the really deep soaking tubs. Suite 802 was a haven of taupe and tweed, with ryokan-style bedside lights and a Japanese tea set on which sits a printed welcome from Nobu. The maestro has, by the way, given his name to wellness. The gigantic Nobu Spa, on the hotel’s second floor and stretching out to spacious terraces, has latest Technogym, and no less than 13 Pilates reformers. These are Merrihew, named for Canadian designer and owner, professional actor Lindsay Merrihew.

And Nobu, the restaurant, is a heaving mass of 125 happy diners, lunch and dinner. Watch the Japanese chefs, after eight years of training, knock up, say, Sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing, Avocado tartare, and A5 Japanese wagyu, cooked new style, or tataki, or toban yaki, or in tacos, or simply as ‘steak’. Dine up at the kitchen counter to see chefs’ secrets at close hand (at breakfast, cleverly, a frosted glass screen hides the stoves, and that counter holds the buffet – don’t miss the Iceland-style sheep’s yoghurt, and Forman smoked salmon).

Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, Restaurant

To be honest, Nobu’s smoked salmon Nigiri sushi would be a perfect alternative under the oaks in the Square. With bubbles, of course.

Mary Gostelow publishes the daily and a unique weekly 15-minute industry Mary Gostelow Girlahead Podcast, both part of Almont Global.

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