The Germans are coming! Or rather, the Germans arrived last year in the form of Hotel Amano in Covent Garden – the first international opening from the Berlin-based Amano Group. If this charming hotel is the benchmark, let us hope they return with another one before too long.
The Amano Group is a bit of an institution in Germany; eight of its 11 hotels can be found in Berlin alone. Amano Covent Garden is the only overseas outpost at the time of writing but, like the similarly charismatic Mama Shelter hotel brand, expect plenty more to spring up across Europe in the coming years.
Like Mama Shelter, the Amano Group knows its USP: to show guests a good time in as many ways as possible. That means a great location; affordable rooms (for Central London at least); a vibey restaurant; and two bars – count ‘em – one in the basement, the other on the roof. You can spend an evening starting at the top and working your way down. (And then back up again until you reach your room.)
There’s plenty to cover here. Let’s get cracking shall we?
Amano’s in-house restaurant Penelope’s very much leans into the party atmosphere of the hotel itself. It’s one of those restaurants that could easily pass for a nightclub, sleek black surfaces, photographs of musical icons, tables that you imagine will later be danced upon. Indeed on weekends, Penelope’s is basically a nightclub that serves food, with DJs and Isramani parties every Saturday.
The menu combines Spanish and Israeli cuisine with considerable success. These are sharing plates packed with colour and flavour. Even their names are evocative: Kashkaval Fondue, Sheep Milk Labneh, Seafood on Fire. I particularly enjoyed the pork belly with nduja and the Gambas, Spanish Hoso prawns with harissa. For the side dishes, the Baharat Patatas, a generous side dish of spicy potatoes is a must.
We opted for the Israeli style paella as a main. The rice came bathed in a tomato gin sauce that leaned slightly too heavy on the tomato for my taste. (Although probably safer than leaning too heavy on the gin.) The octopus was fantastic, however, as soft and flavoursome as I’ve had in London.
One thing to note: the kitchen staff are mighty efficient here and our various dishes all arrived more or less simultaneously. Ideal if you want to mix and match but might be worth staggering your orders if you're looking for more of a starters, main course experience.
Nothing beats a good rooftop bar and Amano Covent Garden has a real doozy. Located on the seventh floor, it’s a super-slick space complete with a live DJ (every Thursday to Saturday) and a real sense of fun. The place was packed on Friday night, as you’d hope, and the crowd was clearly here for a good time rather than an Instagram photo. Not that your Instagram will be lacking: the views are fantastic with landmarks everywhere you look.
There are eight bespoke cocktails to choose from, plus the usual classics on request. I knocked back an Addiction (PiggyBack six-year rye infused with caramel popcorn, Medjool date syrup, orange and angostura bitter) which proved an aptly named sweet treat that you could easily get hooked on.
Down in the depths of the hotel, you will find the stylish, sexy basement bar. Less views, more booths – blue velvet booths that feel rather decadent (and very comfortable). There’s live music every Friday from 8pm to midnight, a lovely way to unwind after dinner or prepare for the upcoming night out – you’re in the middle of London after all.
The rooms at Amano are compact and comfortable. There are 141 in total, split across six categories from Cosy (13 sqm) to Roomy Plus (23 sqm). The most extravagant is probably the Goldy, which comes with a freestanding golden bathtub. All rooms share the same dark, stylish decor that defines the brand. Amano would definitely get into the Berghain.
You could spend a perfectly enjoyable evening sprawled on one of the king-sized beds, watching wide-screen TV. However these aren't rooms that demand you spend all day in them and that's fine. That's the point. Amano wants you to get out there and have fun; and if you're staying at Amano, fun will be in plentiful supply.
Drury House, 34-43 Russell St, London WC2B 5HA; Amano Covent Garden