New Road Hotel will be opening its doors in Whitechapel, London, in Q4 2017. Inspired by the increased popularity for social living and accessible luxury, the new concept hotel will be offering guests everything they need, and nothing they don’t, and nothing they don’t. Independently owned, this 80-room boutique hotel with an edgy flair will fit perfectly into the East London scene. We speak to GM of the New Road Hotel Joost de Kruiff to find out more.
Beginning my career working with Michelin Star Restaurants, I was initially attracted to the restaurant and dining side of the hotel industry and have now been working in hospitality for over 19 years. I have worked in hotels all around the world, including New Orleans, working as the Food and Beverage Outlet Manager at Hotel Moneleone, where I met my wife. I have now been living in London for 12 years, where I have worked as the Food and Beverage Manager of the Waldorf Hilton in Aldwych, as Hotel Manager of several other London hotels, and now as GM of New Road Hotel.
Tell us more about the hotel, its history and its connection to the Malik brothers.
The hotel is located in the former textiles factory that Masrur, Monsur and Moksud Malik’s father once worked in. When the textile industry saw a downturn he started his own business with some fellow colleagues nearby on Whitechapel road before starting a property portfolio in the East End during the 1990s. Although the brothers live in North London, they are deeply connected to the East End and have memories of visiting the Sunday markets and cycling down from Hackney as children to buy their leather jackets. It was this personal connection to both the area and the building itself that encouraged the brothers to purchase the site in 2011 after the factory closed in 2000. The brothers initially planned to convert the space into loft-style apartments but quickly recognised that the building was perfect for a hotel.
What attracted you to taking up post as the GM of this new, much talked about hotel?
I was attracted to New Road Hotel as it is an independent hotel with a unique style and history in the heart London, an incredible city that has become my home over the last 12 years. This is my first GM position and I’m excited that I’ll be able to provide a service tailored to my guests’ needs to ensure their optimum satisfaction.
Please describe a typical working day for you – if one exists!
There is indeed no typical working day, that’s what I love about the hospitality and my job. Currently we are building a hotel and a new brand but once open I do follow a morning routine. I begin with a morning walk around the site where I touch base with the team and check everyone is happy. I also speak to guests in the lobby to learn more about their experiences of the hotel and check their needs are being met. Throughout the day I support the team, jumping in where necessary to protect the guest experience, and maintaining regular catch ups with staff to keep them on track. I also find its important to connect and develop partnerships with the local community and understand what is happening in your micro market.
What are the key attributes you think make for a successful GM?
You need to be a people person, as the job requires interacting and connecting with the team and guests alike. A good GM understands their team, motivates them and supports them in difficult times, while setting and communicating their expectations clearly, establishing what is expected and what reaching high standards looks like. It’s important to look ahead, while also focusing on the day to day problems, trouble shooting and finding solutions in the fast-paced environment. Most importantly, a successful GM represents the team and hotel.
The focus throughout the hotel will be on sleek and efficient design, five-star service, and high functionality over frills and opulence. How is this achieved throughout the different hotel spaces and offerings?
The hotel offers you everything you need and nothing you don’t. As an old textiles factory, the hotel is already home to beautiful bare brick walls which we have kept uncovered. Inside the hotel rooms the focus is on guests achieving the best night’s sleep possible, so we provide luxury mattresses and Fine Bedding Company sheets along with black out blinds, removing fridges and any electrical equipment that may disturb sleep with flashing lights and noise. The hotel rooms themselves are compact yet practical and each floor contains open spaces where guests are encouraged to work and socialise.
Tell us more about the type of guests you expect to welcome here?
We expect to welcome guests looking for an original and authentic local product who want to be part of the East End destination. We would like our guests to be connected and engage with the community by using the social zones on the bedroom floors or in our lobby. New Road Hotel is not for guests expecting a cookie cut hotel experience as we provide a unique concept instead of a more generic corporate experience.
What are your top tips for guests wanting to make the most of exploring the local area and London?
All I can say is the East End is alive and it’s all within walking distance of New Road Hotel. There is so much happening around here, from the Historic Bell Foundry (where they produced the bells for Big Ben) to the SundayWhitechapel market, Columbia flower market and Brick lane for the best curry and street food. Alternatively, just jump on a bike or on the underground and you can be in central London and Canary Wharf within minutes.
What defines luxury for you?
Luxury is great comfort and opulence where it enhances the guest’s experience. By understanding your clientele and anticipating their needs you can personalise their experiences, including little additions that ultimately make a big difference, especially in an extraordinary, well fitted environment like New Road Hotel.
What are the key changes you have observed in the last five years in the hospitality sector and what are your predictions for the next five years?
In the past five years small, boutique hotels have started to gain popularity over large chains due to the individual lifestyle promise and the link to culture and locality. Hotel restaurants have moved away from providing a standard experience and instead choose to provide unique culinary destinations. In 2017, technology is no longer a unique selling point – it is a-given, and expected just like a clean room. Therefore, all our rooms will have Smart TV’s, Wifi and mobile devises to make guest’s stays more comfortable. Moreover, the recruitment process has changed, the industry is focussing on uniqueness and attitude instead of just skill. There is a focus on training, development and empowerment to motivate team members.
What would be the key piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
This would have to be to take more chances. I now realise that every day is a fresh start. I’d also advise myself to be more patient and listen to other people more and to learn from their experiences.