An Inspector Calls… A review of Native Bankside, London3 min read

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An Inspector Calls… at Native’s ‘aparthotel’ in London’s South Bank where studios come with fully equipped kitchens and FREE food staples

  • Native has 16 sites in the capital and one each in Glasgow and Manchester 
  • The Bankside branch near the Globe Theatre is a former Victorian tea warehouse
  • The Inspector’s ‘premium studio’ cost £120 and came with free food staples

We’ve had country house hotels, boutique hotels, restaurants with rooms – and now along comes the ‘aparthotel.’ Right now, it’s not an overly crowded market, at least not at the affordable level. But I can see its potential, particularly in big cities such as London.

A company called Native has no fewer than 16 sites in the capital and one each in Glasgow and Manchester.

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I’ve booked a berth at its Bankside branch in tiny Bear Gardens, just around the corner from the Globe Theatre.

The Bankside branch is located in Bear Gardens, just around the corner from the Globe Theatre

The Bankside branch is located in Bear Gardens, just around the corner from the Globe Theatre

It used to be a Victorian tea warehouse, hence its name, Empire Warehouse, lit up outside invitingly. There’s a 24-hour manned reception desk in the lobby, a gym on the fifth floor and a pantry on the first floor.

I’m paying £120 for what’s called a ‘premium studio’. And that’s exactly what it is. The cleverly designed kitchen has everything you might need — and more. There’s an oven, large fridge, two electric hobs, a combo washing machine/dryer, pots and pans, plates, bowls, wine glasses. Even a cheese grater and mini-dishwasher.

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The room has a wooden floor in the kitchen area; grey carpet elsewhere. There’s some bare brick, a comfortable bed, a huge wardrobe and no clutter.

I can’t master the trendy lighting and the pillows aren’t quite top-notch, but I completely get the concept. Presumably most people stay more than one night to take advantage of everything you don’t get in a traditional hotel, in which case it represents real value. What’s more, the pantry is very generous.

‘Here’s [sic] a few bits to get you going in your apartment — enjoy!’ says a hand-written sign. In addition to tea, coffee and all kinds of herbal infusions, there’s a shelf of Heinz baked beans, tins of chopped tomatoes, glass jars of sun-dried tomato pesto, instant porridge, pasta, muesli, marmalade, jam, honey, fresh fruit, popcorn and crisps.

Surely I can’t just help myself. I go down to reception and seek guidance. ‘Yes, it’s all complimentary,’ I’m told.

Laden with goodies, I return to my studio and sit at the small kitchen table, where Native has provided a map of the local area, highlighting nearby bars, restaurants and galleries.

‘We might be seen as one of the leading boutique accommodation providers in the UK,’ says Native’s blurb.

They might be right.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Native Bankside, Empire Warehouse, 1 Bear Gardens, London SE1 9ED. Apartments from £106. For more inforamtion call 020 7313 2383 or visit nativeplaces.com. 

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