WORDS Robyn Alexander PHOTOS Edmund Dabney
The Locke Group’s smart accommodation offering – a blend of rental apartment and hotel, with the added dimension of great design and buzzy social options – is expanding its footprint in the UK and beyond.
Combining work and leisure travel is one of those long-term trends that has led to a myriad new accommodation offerings springing up around the globe. Whether heading off to Bali for a few months of combined remote work and surfing lessons, or adding a week onto the end of a trip to a conference in Berlin, people around the world tend to look for something other than a regular hotel room in which to stay.
Enter the Locke Group – a hospitality brand that combines the practicality of a rental apartment with the hotel amenities that add ease and convenience to the travel experience. “Locke aims to liberate guests from the confines of a typical hotel room by creating beautiful apartments that are designed
to be lived in,” says Stephen McCall, CEO of Edyn, the group behind the developments.
Leman Locke – the first Locke property – opened in 2016 in the booming East End of London, in Aldgate. Staying there in early 2018, I was impressed by our perfectly formed room:
there was a kitchen you genuinely could cook a meal in, a small dining table that doubled as a working spot, and a petite living area with a sectional sofa that easily accommodated two lounging travellers putting their feet up after exploring nearby Hackney all day.
Locke apartments aren’t big by South African standards: their average size in London is about 30m2. However, that’s still significantly larger than the average hotel room in the same city, and at a similar price point. And what they may lack in size is made up for via brilliant design: not only does every element fit neatly into its own perfect place, the use of custom-designed furniture and the careful deployment of colour also helps to make the rooms seem spacious.
Also part of the Locke experience is a recognition that, as McCall says, “the type of guest we’re accommodating wants to explore life as a local”. As a result, each hotel includes food and drink options that reflect the tastes of the area in which they are located, and these venues are usually created in partnership with local entrepreneurs. Which, in turn, means that each offering is unique to that property. Many of the hotels’ social spaces also include co-working areas, and all offer a locally inflected cultural programme spanning wellness, fitness, art and music.
Just over a year after my Leman Locke experience, I was at Eden Locke in Edinburgh, and it was great too: shoutout to the concierge who recommended we see the local band, which turned out to be one of the highlights of our stay. I’ll now check to see whether a city has a Locke property before considering any other accommodation.
And clearly, plenty of other travellers feel just as I do: the brand is expanding fast. In 2020, Locke launched two new properties in London, including Bermonds Locke and Locke at Broken Wharf. And the doors of Kingsland Locke, also in London, opened in January 2021. There are now Locke properties in Manchester, Dublin and Munich too, with Cambridge, Berlin and Lisbon next on the list for 2021 and 2022. They’re certainly all on my list.
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