The Rebel Company
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Work From Homers are the New Millennials
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And Every Hospitality Business Wants a Piece of the Action


Pre-Covid, we could always guarantee that two topics would come up in meetings with clients. Instagram strategy and millennial audiences. Whilst of course these crucial considerations remain valid today, it’s attracting the #WFH crowd that’s top of everyone’s agenda. And rightfully so.

According to the ONS, in April 46.6% of people were doing at least some work from home. Rising to 57.2% in London. Some estimates put the real number at 60%. 26% of the UK workforce is planning to work from home permanently. So it’s clear that companies across all industries are going to be doing so in greater and greater numbers.

Whilst this is bad news for businesses in commercial areas, it presents an opportunity for others. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the hospitality sector.

Quality of Work Doesn’t Mean Quality of Life

A survey conducted by finder.com found that 65% of workers said they were more productive at home. Whilst 83% of employees said that they didn’t need to be in an office to be productive. Employers agreed, with two-thirds reporting increased productivity amongst their teams.

Whilst good news for companies, the negative effects of increased isolation, longer working hours and loneliness must not be overlooked. A recent CNBC article quoted someone as saying “[working from home] sounds great, but they missed the informal conversations. ‘I wake up, go to my computer and work all day, teleconferencing, but don’t ever talk to people or see people’. One of the big things I heard was that ‘I miss human contact with co-workers’.” Nearly a quarter of remote workers also admitted to struggling to switch off when working from home.

With an “always-on” working culture already a part of our lives, the decisions companies of all shapes and sizes make over the coming months will be crucial to the wellbeing of their people. Not to mention the productivity of their organisations. Maybe even the success of their businesses.

Whatever happens, we must remember that the transition to flexible working won’t happen automatically. The litmus test for companies will be maintaining consistency and productivity whilst tailoring their policies to suit a variety of individual wants and needs. Fostering a culture of openness to further support employees will be central to success.

And for hospitality businesses of all shapes and sizes, this enormous market is ready and waiting to be offered solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time. And to the largest shift in how the world works in a generation.

Here are some great examples of how businesses across hospitality have adapted to cater to this audience. Considering a number of models for how companies and their teams elect to work.

1. Flexible Spaces for Neighbourhood Working

The future is bright for businesses catering to the growing number of work-from-homers. Those looking for an alternative to their spare room or kitchen table. Whether for a few hours a day or a couple of days a week. In a destination neighbourhood that reconnects them to the world, or somewhere closer to home.

Hotels including The Stafford in St James are offering their rooms and suites to those looking for a peaceful and productive space to work. However, with rates for suites starting at £395/day - including a two-course lunch - it’s not exactly within reach of the average displaced white-collar worker. And stateside, hotel day-let booking platform Day Use is also getting in on the action. Connecting hotel rooms with local #WFH professionals in New York City including at more accessible prices.

Whether the temptations of a nap in a comfy bed, a long bath, and a day’s Netflix and chill can be overcome remain to be seen. But needless to say, we’ll be watching this all very closely.

Back in our neck of the woods and we’re excited to check out The Tramshed Project on Shoreditch’s Rivington Street. The site has relaunched as “an interdisciplinary food and working space” that “is built to outlast the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic”. With Street Feast founder Dominic-Cools Lartigue at the helm, and opening collaborations from Andrew Clarke, Zoe Adjonyoh, and James Cochran we’re confident the food will live up to expectations.

2. Working Weekenders

More working from home inevitably means more zoom calls, less movement, and less real-life interaction. Forward-thinking businesses know this and have stepped up to the plate. Offering some great solutions that combine time for work, rest, and play in one fell swoop.

Recently awarded The Times Hotel of the Year Birch give you a Sunday night stay on the house when booking in for Friday and Saturday. Guests are encouraged to “come early and leave late”. And with more spaces and activities than anyone could feasibly do of a weekend, the thought of a wellness-focused weekend sandwiched between two days of working from the rural idyl is an appealing proposition.

(just please don’t use the word Rurban - rural/urban in case you were wondering)

3. Work from Anywhere

Ed’s summer in Mallorca has opened our eyes to the possibilities that exist for individuals and teams to up-sticks and head for sunnier climbs. Doing so for regular stints without the need to join the global nomad brigade saying a permanent goodbye to city life. Judging by Ed’s recent interview by The Guardian, we’re not alone.

US co-living brand Outsite is a great example of a business looking to cater to this inevitably high-growth sector. Offering rooms and a ready-made community in a variety of downtown locations across Europe and the US. Specifically targeting remote workers and creatives.

4. The future of the office


So is the office as we know it a thing of the past? We were chatting to a large commercial developer recently who was buoyant about the future of occupancy in their buildings. However, they acknowledge that the makeup of spaces is likely to change.

Banks of desks are likely to make way for more meeting and workshop space; activities that remain challenging when done remotely. They predict this is likely to be accompanied by more ‘touch down’ flexible working spaces, lounges, hot desks, and improved food and drink offerings.

Mark Dixon, chief executive of IWG was quoted in this article as saying “This global crisis has dramatically changed the ways companies will work. In the new world of working post-Covid-19, offices will still be needed but there will be a greater requirement for more flexible space. Some of the big banks are thinking about it, Facebook – it’s pretty universal.”

A “hub and spoke” model is likely to emerge, where smaller satellite offices in suburbs and less urban locations feed a central office in more traditional commercial, city-centre hubs.

Could this also lead more corporate sectors into smaller, independent ‘micro-working’ spaces such as Dalston’s Snackbar? The east London café with two private studios to rent on the floors above. With their brilliant cafe menu delivered from the floor below, it’s easy to see how food and drink continue to be central to workspace offers and their appeal to potential tenants.

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Collaboration And Community Spirit Are Restaurants’ Vital Ingredients
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Our Monthly Long Read

It's been so interesting to see how neighbourhoods feel so different from one another. Soho is a virtual ghost town. Whilst my local park Primrose Hill has been alive with socially-distanced activity.

I rode over to Broadway Market and Victoria Park recently. The contrast between residential and commercial neighbourhoods becoming even clearer.

With a gradual move away from lockdown on the horizon, it's been interesting to think about how the way we use our cities is likely to change. And whether we're looking at a temporary or permanent shift. Personally, I think the former.

It's impossible to contemplate a return to normal life until we have a vaccine. But one thing seems almost certain. Operators cannot base their model on bums-on-seats alone. Retail, delivery and e-commerce will prove to be crucial success factors in the long term. Much as they've been lifelines over previous weeks.

Moving from admirable quick fixes to longer-term strategies and broader, diversified product offerings. Thinking carefully about how to connect clientele with the products they want. And how businesses can come together to do this collaboratively.

Is this the moment for neighbourhood and community-centric operators to thrive? The death of the over-leveraged multiples? Only time will tell. But as people across the world spend more time at home and less time commuting into commercial hubs, the way our businesses operate needs to change. Meeting the needs of both our hard won fans and new advocates currently waiting in the wings.

Connecting purpose with changing customer needs

It's never been more important to heed the much-lauded Sinekism of "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". In other words, brands need to stand for something.

Leading with a genuine purpose is as important now as it's ever been. But it's essential that this is connected with carefully-considered customer needs.

I always refer to my favourite brand purpose from our old clients and friends, Rosa's Thai Cafés. "The purpose of Rosa's is to create an inspiring environment that makes people happy". Caps doffed, Without Studio for your genius.

This needs to work inside and out. Being inspired and happy are such fundamentals for a great dining or drinking experience. But it rings true for how staff should feel, too. A guiding principle that everyone connects with.

But It's crucial to consider how purpose must evolve in line with customer needs. And these needs are likely to continue to evolve over the coming weeks and months. But there are some fundamentals.

Safety, hygiene and traceability are no longer givens. Staff and guests alike will expect reassurances to be built into brands' DNA, operations and marketing. It's essential that these become part of a brand's purpose. Not merely initiatives deployed in response to the current situation.

Reviewing and updating your brand purpose in such uncertain times will go a long way to instilling a renewed sense of direction. Executed collaboratively with teams and then built into the marketing messages going out to your clients.

Building a strategy around things that will stay the same

In an uncertain world, there are always things that never change. Whilst we've all had to change our behaviour and the way we approach our every day, many of our beliefs and values have remained constant.

Convenience, on-demand, customisation, authenticity and a desire to shop and support local have become fundamentals of our industry. These behaviours aren't going anyway. If anything, the evolution of customer behaviour in these regards have accelerated of late.

We've become more conscious of the food we eat. We want healthy without compromise. And we want to push the boat out and indulge from time to time, too.

We care about where our food comes from. We care about value. We want to align with brands that match our lifestyle aspirations. And we want to tell the world about it on Instagram.

When we double down on what we can be sure of. Combining this with a renewed purpose, focused on the changing needs of our customers. We can begin to create a plan.

Check the competition then focus on you

As part of a branding process we're doing through ourselves (more to follow on that), we've been doing a lot of work on our positioning. It was interesting to drill down on who we're playing against. Whilst this was a great source of aspiration on many fronts, it was also a great leveller as to where we are today. And to a degree, it was quite daunting when we realised just how many brilliant people are our there. Essentially, doing what we do.

I'm sure I speak for many when I say that it's sometimes paralysing. How are we going to cut through? How are we going to stand out? How are we going to capture and maintain market share? There are those with better portfolios, sexier clients and bigger marketing budgets?

And the lesson from this? Understand your market. Understand your audience. Know your competition well. And then look inward, focus on you and crack on!

Because right now, there's so much going on out there it would overwhelm anyone. Don't obsess over the problems, challenges, unknowns and over other people's woes. Work out who you are, why folks love you and do more of that. Talk more about that.

Expand on your core proposition with complementary products and services that are on-brand. And those that add real value for your customers. Balance being nimble and imaginative with ensuring quality remains on a par with the things you've been doing each day.

Strength in collaboration

There's often a great sense of camaraderie in hospitality. Fiercely competitive on the one hand. Passionately community-minded on the other. I think this dichotomy is why I love it so much.

When times are hard people come together. And it's this continued spirit of collaboration that may just get us through the challenging months ahead of us.

We've got to think about where people are going to need to be. Where they're going to want to be. And find a way of bringing them what they want then and there.

And I don't just mean a reliance on Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Because we all know their margins and fees aren't sustainable for restaurants. And that they offer a poor experience for their customers whenever things don't go well. Which let's face it, is more often than they'd have you believe.

If the industry at large is going to have any chance of survival, we need to think differently. Businesses need to understand what slice of the pie they need to be able to stay afloat. And then ensure they help others to do the same. Sharing the love amongst like-minded peers who complement, rather than compete against them.

Could pubs open up their kitchens to others for click and collect takeaways? Could coffee shops broaden their retail range of local products? Could restaurants partner with suppliers to create ready-to-heat meals?

We've seen the green shoots of this already. Now is the time to work out how we move from incidental purchases to key, long term revenue drivers. And then coming up with ways of working together to share the burden and costs of logistics. Making finding, buying and collecting the things we want to buy convenient and easy.

I'd love a world where my local pub reopens as a click and collect point for my favourite local retail businesses. I'd stop in for a pint in the garden (once allowed, of course) and bring some beer home with me too.

Learn from the namaste and don't forget the magic

In these strange times of social distancing and contactless everything, we need to find new ways of showing the warmth, love and generosity that we're known for as an industry.

The Hindu namaste greeting is symbolic both as a spiritual gesture and as a greeting. There are many meanings attributed to its use. But my favourite by far is the assertion "the best in me sees the best in you". It's a lovely sentiment that, when accompanied by sincere eye contact, exudes exactly the kind of spirit that hospitality holds at its core. And what's more, there's no touching.

We live in a mad world. We can achieve so much by focusing on each other's positives. By finding strength in people coming together and doing so gently and with respect.

Last of all. And potentially most importantly. We mustn't take our eyes off the magic of drinking and dining out. And what happens when we come together over a great meal at home. The escapism. The experience. And the joy and respite that we bring to people's lives.

In whatever shape or form our businesses take, we must remember that above all, we're here to create experiences that make lives better. And this is more important now than it's ever been.

So in summary...

  1. Refresh and update your purpose, born from a deep understanding of your customers' needs
  2. Equip yourself with the knowledge of things we can be certain about
  3. Work out partnerships and collaborations that will be mutually beneficial
  4. Do more of what you do best. Expand into other revenue streams and develop complementary products
  5. Know where your customers are and make it as easy as possible for them to get their hands on what they want, where and when they want it
  6. Bring the magic to everything you do



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Bring Your Pub, Bar Or Restaurant Experience Home
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Could Dark Kitchens Be Part Of The Future for Hotel F&B?
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Could Dark Kitchens Be Part Of The Future for Hotel F&B?

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Our Monthly Long Read.

Deliveruined or Deliverlighted?

Whilst analysts were quickly excited by a potential boom in orders - and therefore revenue - at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak, it didn’t take long for a very different reality to set in; leading Deliveroo to announce that it’s axing 367 of its 2,500-strong workforce this week. The current perfect storm for a once seemingly unstoppable growth sector came at the exact time the UK competition watchdog provisionally approved a £462m investment in Deliveroo by Amazon.

It seems that, like shopping malls in the real world, online marketplaces rely on anchor tenants too. And with several high street stalwarts including Wagamama, Nando’s and McDonalds shutting up shop, there was less of an incentive for an already worried workforce of riders to venture out to work. This put strain on the system and led to long wait times for those operators still trading, and sub-standard food arriving at their customers’ doors. Add to this the general nervousness about contact and transmission and its easy to see why the fizz has fizzled from Deliveroo’s glass.

There’s a problem here which we’ve always flagged to clients in an attempt to dispel the myth that the roads riders use to whizz food to their customers’ door are paved with gold. If you’ve got a busy restaurant with excess capacity then selling via Deliveroo, Uber Eats and others can be a lucrative businesses on top of the existing operation. But potentially healthy margins quickly evaporate if delivery from a prime, high street location becomes the bedrock of your operation, to the point where it’s just not worth trading. Especially in current times, when companies can furlough their staff and be done with the majority of their wage bill altogether.

Could this be why several independent operators such as Honey & Co and Borough’s Padella were quick to sign up to Deliveroo and Uber Eats, but closed down their delivery operations almost as soon as they were live?

Dancing in the Dark

So whilst the general market continues to face unprecedented challenges, the long term success of dark kitchens seems almost certain. Even if it is in for a bumpy ride (and we don’t mean the speed bumps making a mess of your Thai Green Curry) in the short term.

Pre lockdown, the dark kitchen market in Europe was forecast to be worth $253m in 2019 and growing to a whopping $655m in 2026 so there’s no doubt that the bright side was outshining the dark, as consumers quite literally stuffed their faces via Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Postmates and the like.

According to Deliverect, one of the leading providers of software to the dark kitchen sector - “Less free time, the rise of online business models, a fixation on convenience and personalised experiences: these are just a few elements that influence almost every industry today – including the food business. The demands of digital-age consumers combined with new technologies are transforming the way restaurants operate from the kitchen floor and up”.

When you combine efficiency of space, lower rents, simplified and de-skilled menus, and much lower overheads it’s easy to see why so many brands - and Deliveroo themselves - have invested in locations that are centrally-located, but off the beaten track. JKS Group’s Motu Indian Kitchen has been a runaway success (we’re fans and regulars ourselves) and just this week, Soho’s incredible Bao (another JKS-backed business) have launched Rice Error, a Deliveroo-only dark kitchen brand.

And whilst the skeptics were quick to point out the future of robot chefs, deliveries by drone and other dystopian culinary calamity, there is a kinder side to dark kitchens. When established, respected, successful operators diversify and set up their side hustles on city industrial estates across the world, we can’t really see a problem with that.

Hotel, Motu, Ordering In

(Pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist)

Over in the hotel sector, the land grab for Select Service hotel brands by the developer community sees no sign of abating. We’ve been working closely with Marriott on their burgeoning Moxy brand and it’s more established counterpart, Aloft so it’s an area we’ve come to know well.

There are both challenges and opportunities within hotels across various sectors, as they seek to satisfy their guests’ increasingly discerning expectations. The select service model relies on low cost to build, skeleton staffing and limited f&b. And yet generous loyalty schemes provoke repeat stays by guests who quickly tire of a one-size-fits-all model. Even full service hotels struggle with agility and with maintaining interest and variety in their offer.

Whether they enjoy prime, city centre and neighbourhood locations or service business parks and airports, many hotels would benefit from a shake up in the way they think about f&b. Their local communities would be better off too.

Hotels often have excess kitchen capacity outside of the space and labour-intensive breakfast service, often coupled with teams to service them. So could this present an unmissable opportunity to give local operators a space from which to launch their own dark kitchen brands?

With the opportunity for multiple operators to cook and dispatch from the same space, guests may get the variety and choice that they crave from hotels not blessed with great culinary neighbours. Can hotels in buzzing neighbourhoods also drive opportunities to increase revenue by serving their communities in a way they’ve never been able to do before?

At airports, where clusters of chain hotels cater to weary travellers, layovers and one night stays, there’s an even greater opportunity to win by servicing other hotels who face similar challenges. And in the select service sector where kitchen equipment is kept to a minimum, companies such as Rational are working closely with operators to deploy tech-led ready to heat solutions. This is perfect for operators who have the capacity to prepare food off site - at their restaurants, say - and utilise efficiency, simple processes and speed to dish up meals to demanding guests in record time.

Hatch and Dispatch

One a recent trip to the US, we were impressed with White Lodging’s Zombie Taco taqueria at the Moxy Chicago Downtown. The simple, open kitchen perfectly integrated with the in-house, brand-standard food operation and some cleverly placed merchandise. Throughout the day and late into the night, a hatch out on to the street serves hungry passers by, late night revellers looking for a tasty settler before they head home, and delivery service riders too.

A proven model, it’s easy to see a scenario where the identity and product could be flipped simply and cost effectively at the whim of the operator or at the request of the guest. Surely, it’s a win-win for everyone. And as the world shows signs of a gentle reopening after Lockdown, we need to be looking after each other more than ever.

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Gut Health During #WFH
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Gut Health During #WFH

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As we adjust to working from home, we’ve never been more conscious of our eating habits. Fortunately, there are some brilliant solutions to maintaining a healthy diet during lockdown.

We recently completed work on a project that delivers nutritionally endorsed ready-to-heat meals and snacks directly to busy professionals across London. Dedicated to empowering us to take control of our lives through food, now more than ever Kurami is a brilliant solution as our busy lives show no sign of slowing down, just because we’re confined to our homes.

Eating for a healthy gut is a key nutritional focus of each of the brand’s meal paths. So important is our gut that it is even considered the ‘second brain’ of the human body. It’s also well established that the bacteria present within our guts plays an integral role in many fundamental functions, especially immunity.

Micro-organisms that exist in the gut can even influence behaviour, with some research suggesting beneficial microbes even impact mood and anxiety levels.

Conscious of our dietary habits now more than ever, we’ve been inspired to look at some of the ways we can ensure our diet takes care of our gut as we cook from home. So, here are our top 5 tips to eat well for your gut health.

The community of microbes contained within a healthy gut is complex and diverse, so it makes sense that to satisfy and optimise the health benefits they offer, our diets must be varied too. Incorporating a wide range of veg into your diet is a super-simple way towards having all bases covered. Order a whole box of London’s freshest produce straight to your door from local suppliers through FoodBox London and support the community from the comfort of your own home at the same time.

And if you live in Surrey, Buckinghamshire or Berkshire, then we’ve recently developed and launched Fe2Go, an online store for our favourite suburban clients, Fego - delivering their a la carte dishes alongside ready-to-heat meals, groceries, provisions and fresh produce boxes. Go check them out! For every delivery they make, they’re feeding a key NHS worker.




2. Eat Fermented Foods

Whilst you might be struggling to get hold of some of the basic essentials in supermarkets at the moment, the good news is that some of the lesser known ingredients are likely to be readily available - as well as being a natural source of beneficial probiotics too. Our favourite fermented food is Kimchi - check out BBC Food for some brilliant recipe inspiration to cook with it at home.

And if you’re looking for a small, independent brand then Eaten Alive should definitely be your first stop.

3. Sip On Kombucha

Kombucha is on the up! We saw it frequently feature in restaurants across the UK and it’s now well and truly entered the mainstream, due to its undeniable health benefits.

This fermented tea-based drink is a brilliant source of powerful antioxidants that boost immunity. A brilliant way to support independent business at the moment is to order some directly to your door, enjoying it in the knowledge you’re taking care of your gut health at the same time.

London-based Wild Fizz offer some brilliant flavours through their website, where you can even read about how to make your own Kombucha at home. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re offering discounts to NHS staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We were particularly excited by the flavour combination of ginger, turmeric and black pepper - ours is on the way already.

Our friends over at Dapple Studio created the brand identity for Jarr, one of our personal favourites. Order this online from many places, or drop the good folk at Sourced Market online, who stock the product in all of their stores.

4. Add Yoghurt

We’re big fans of starting our day as we mean to go on and in this instance, as un-rebellious as it may be, we never skip breakfast. Adding yoghurt to fresh fruit and granola is an easy way to introduce probiotic cultures that could promote good bacteria in your gut.

Preparing and eating breakfast is also a brilliant way to get into the habit of introducing routine as we settle into remote-working, so by waking up with bowls like these you can win on many fronts.

5. Make It ‘Garlicky’

Beyond flavour alone, garlic brings some brilliant health benefits to the table when it comes to taking care of your gut. It contains a hefty nutrient content , packing a punch far beyond the elevation of taste. Throw some into your weekly shop - if ever you needed a reason to excuse your garlic breath as you boost your immune system, it’s this.

As we all find ourselves balancing the demands of a changing world right now, you’d be forgiven for wishing nutrition could be taken care of for you. Head over to kurami.co.uk to see how you can order delicious, nutritionally-endorsed meals directly to your door.

We can’t think of a better way to support an independent business and local suppliers, all whilst having our dietary health covered and one less thing to think about. We’re also quite proud of the project, and therefore unashamedly biased.

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Rebels On The Road
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Rebels On The Road

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It’s been a busy year at Rebel and we’ve been fortunate to travel to some amazing destinations for both work and leisure. From sun drenched destinations in The Dominican Republic and Thailand to closer places such as Barcelona and Brussels. From familiar places like India to more remote and unknown places like Kazakhstan. It’s always lovely to go away as a team and therefore one of our favourite trips this year took us on an express trip to the USA to better understand the tier-two city market in the country and to seek some inspiration for a project we’re currently delivering for the Moxy hotel brand in Europe and the US.

We visited a slightly overwhelming thirty five restaurants and bars in six days, but there were some which really stood out. We’ve pulled together some of our favourites here.

New Orleans

We began our trip in New Orleans, the city of Voodoo, Mardi Gras and Beignets. We only spent two nights here but discovered some amazing bars and restaurants.

Bar Tonique

The first place we visited after a long trip, this industry bar served classic cocktails executed to perfection, as well as hand crafted cocktails in a very easy-going atmosphere. The place to be for all of us hospitality people to have some fun and meet some people.

Compere Lapin

Located in The Old No. 77 Hotel in the heart of the Warehouse Arts district, Compere Lapin was not only a highlight in NOLA, but of the whole trip. Caribbean flavours combined with using French and Italian techniques. Sounds complex, but it was simply delicious. Plus, let’s not forget about that strawberry daiquiri and pina colada we had as dessert.

Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits

This BBQ garden felt like the most authentic American experience. Walk in and go through the wine shop to buy your wine, grab a bucket with ice to make it cold, find a spot in the garden, order your BBQ and sit down to enjoy the food and the live Blues & Jazz music. A very cozy night!

Catahoula Hotel

This lovely Indie, boutique hotel near the French Quarter was lovely to visit. Casual and cozy with quirky yet homey decor, and a great Pisco bar and rooftop. A must visit for a cocktail accompanied by live music.

Denver

Death & Co

Located in the Ramble Hotel in Downtown Denver, Death & Co have taken everything that they’ve become famous for in New York , and created a craft cocktail lobby bar with a wide selection of sipping spirits. Besides the creative and great tasting cocktails, the lounge itself has a speak easy vibe, with dark heavy curtains and exquisite glassware.

5280 Burger Bar

We are always up for a burger and could not leave the US without having had one. And so we did… but what was even more special at this burger bar were the fried pickles and the “Shaketinis” (milkshakes with booze of all sorts), we literally couldn’t have asked for a better American dinner.

The Family Jones

A restaurant and distillery that is outstanding at both things. Although not much food was ordered (due to the burgers before), everything we did have was sensational. We were impressed by their full lab in which they infuse all kinds of spirits and produce an extensive range of distillates.

Chicago

Three Dots and a Dash

A speakeasy tiki bar hidden in Chicago’s River North streets. Not only were the cocktails truly tiki, but the glassware and garnishes were outstanding. From mermaid tail stirrers and tropical flowers, to bespoke mugs we were truly impressed by how they managed to make each of their many drinks look and taste unique and different from one another. We must admit, we couldn’t help ourselves and stole one or two mermaid tails…

Bad Hunter

As the name implies, Bad Hunter is a veg-forward restaurant. In an area with many great and renowned restaurants such as Au Cheval and Girl & The Goat, this place still manages to stand out with in-season quality food and great cocktails. Besides the quality of the actual food and drinks, they deserve so much credit for their creativity in the menu design and excellent name (we should never underestimate the power of a good restaurant’s name).

Chicago Athletic Association

Known due to its heritage and excellent bars designed to provide and experience, the CAA is a must visit in Chicago. Not only is this a hotel in a beautiful building, it also has great entertainment and food and beverage areas such as the games room (fuelling our new-found shuffle-board addiction), rooftop, coffee shop and speakeasy amongst others.

We took many things, from inspiration and ideas, to network contacts and a GREAT time. What we are doing with it? That will be revealed soon! stay tuned to see the progress of our cocktail development work with Moxy.

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Making Music Work For Your Brand
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Making Music Work For Your Brand

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It’s no secret that in today’s saturated hotel and restaurant markets, brands who can drive emotional engagement through their music programming are winning over and retaining audiences in spaces where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

We’re continuing to see real innovation in the sectors, and a key element of this is how different operators are approaching music and programming; and developing a key point of view around how this is communicated. And this is being approached from a variety of angles.

DJs turning their hand to food and drink

Last week saw actor-turned-DJ Idris Elba bolstering his musical credentials by opening his intimate, exclusive bar The Parrot at the Waldorf Hilton in London’s Aldwych, which will feature a programme of DJ’s and live music performances tailored to a discerning, connected audience who know how to manipulate a tricky guest list.

Carl Clarke’s continued success with Chick n’ Sours to some degree proves the theory that DJ’s can successfully transfer their appeal and reputation over to an industry that clearly takes its musical credentials seriously. We were however sad to see local favourite and Krankbrother brainchild Beagle in Hoxton close this year after a decent run in a great space.

Vinyl is back and here to stay

When Brawn on Columbia Road opened its door what seems like decades ago, their turntable and record collection were key features of the dining and drinking experience. This is something that we’re continuing to see prevail, including at recently opened Michelin starred Leroy in Shoreditch where the crackle and imperfections of listening to vinyl is as charming as the pauses between tracks.

We also saw this in action on a recent trip to Chicago, where we popped into the Fox Bar at Soho House to browse their growing vinyl library directly adjacent to the bar.

In other news our relatively new neighbour Mare Street Market, houses a record store called Stranger Than Paradise on site that encourages guests to physically interact with – and take home – the music that they hear playing in the venue. They join the now constantly referenced and locally loved Ace Hotel London Shoreditch who run vinyl haven Sister Ray out of a previously unloved corner of their property.

Just up the road in Dalston, our favourite mid-week hangout Brilliant Corners, has recently opened an extension to their perfectly put together restaurant and bar, that now houses their ‘Giant Steps’ vintage travelling sound system in a semi-private drinking and dining room.

Just add coffee

Pressure from growing rents and rates has prompted traditional retail businesses to consider adding an element of f&b to their operations, and we recently spoke to Appear Here about how we’re increasingly seeing this in the fashion industry. However it’s become a staple of the record shop resurgence too, fuelled by a rise in vinyl sales and the continued proliferation of great coffee into the farthest corners of retail.

We turn to Lion Coffee + Records and The Book and Record Bar for great examples of how this is really working for operators looking to draw in an audience, keep them in store for longer, and drive ancillary revenue at the same time.

3 Tips to make music work for your venue

So whilst we can all enlist the hottest DJs in town to put their names to our bars, or add record shops to our lobbies there are certain things that all operators can do to maximise on the positive effects of putting music at the heart of their guest experiences. Here are our top picks.

Invest in local collaborations

Unless you’re confident you really know what you’re doing (or you employ someone who does) then don’t try and go it alone. Find a programming partner that’s local to your business, who gets your audience, and who is able to create playlists that suit your vibe and your opening hours.

This could be a company such as MAV music which will create evolving playlists around an agreed brief, a local record label or a DJ/producer with whom you can set up a win-win, long term relationship.

Keep it fresh

Playlist curation isn’t a one time thing. The last thing you want is for your regular guests to grow tired of the same playlists day in day out. Invest in the commitment to regular updates to your playlists, and consider extending this to lobby or bar programming on busier nights to give guests another reason to come back to your venue.

Get the tempo and volume right

The volume that your music is played at will help determine how and what your guests order, as it has a direct impact on heart rate and arousal.

Want your guests to indulge and reach for unhealthier options or push the boat out? Turn it up! Whereas if your goal is to create a more mindful, healthier approach then keep the volume knob turned down.

According to a recent article on onholdinc.com, “the pace of your overhead music also has a strong impact on how your customers eat and drink. Choosing the wrong speed could have different impacts on your diner’s experiences even if you pick the right genre, volume, and mix.

The National Restaurant Association recently shared some eye-opening statistics about customer behaviour and music:

Customers chew food 30% faster when they listen to uptempo music, decreasing eating times and increasing table turnover.

Men buy more drinks when they listen to uptempo music and drink them faster.

Customers increased the average ticket size of their bill by 23% while listening to slower music. This is attributed to customers buying more drinks and other add-ons (like dessert and coffee) that typically have high-profit margins for restaurants.

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from operators and businesses who have invested in interesting approaches to getting their music right, connecting with their audience and driving engagement. We’d also love to hear about what didn’t work, and what people have tried and failed at.

Please do get in touch.

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5 Beautiful Food Halls Around The World
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5 Beautiful Food Halls Around The World

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2018 is definitely shaping up to be the year that market halls in London come of age. With the opening of three new venues under the Market Hall brand, our new local favourite Mare Street Market right below our office, and Ichiba, the Japanese food hall opening in Westfield London there’s plenty of evidence that we’re moving on as a city from the established torchbearers such as Dinerama and Hawker House at the trendy end of the spectrum, and The Ned at the luxury end of the market.

It’s interesting to see operators’ different approaches to curating their offerings, some including strong retail elements whilst others focus firmly on eating and drinking on site in vast communal seating areas.

Whatever the approach, these developments in the market are signalling a shift in the way consumers want to eat and drink out at a time when the casual end of the restaurant market is seeing its biggest shake-up in years.

We’ll be watching this space closely over the coming months, but in the meantime we’ve had a scout around the world and taken a look at some food hall inspirations in other cities.

THE HALLEN, AMSTERDAM

This is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. Besides an excellent food hall (Foodhallen) with a great variety of food options, there is also a cinema, craft shop, bike shop, hair dressing academy amongst other cool concept stores. Originally a tram shed, the building is now a hub for culture, fashion, food and crafts.

ST. ROCH MARKET, NEW ORLEANS

After being wrecked by hurricane Katrina and following a three year refurbishment, St. Roch Market has reopened its doors in its original location and is stronger than ever. With its high ceilings, white walls and original steel columns, this market leaves us speechless in terms of design. But also, whether it is artisanal grab-and-go goods, gourmet groceries from local vendors, or craft cocktails, this market has it all in terms of local and delicious food, drinks and goods. A must-visit in New Orleans.

MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL, MADRID

This is an oldie, but when it comes to Spanish food, the food hall in San Miguel is the best option to try it all. From boquerones, to jamon and manchego to paella, you can find a seat and eat fresh products with a great glass of sangria.

ØSTERMALM FOOD HALL, STOCKHOLM

With numerous cafes, restaurants and counters full of fresh produce, this market is the best for trying Swedish delicacies. But besides outstanding food, this market from the 1880’s is keeping up with an industry that is revolving more rapidly than ever and is currently going through a landmark renovation that we’re sure will be amazing.

FENIX FOOD FACTORY, ROTTERDAM

Besides the more famous Markthall in Rotterdam that we all know due to its outstanding architecture, there is a more crafty and more local market worth visiting. In a warehouse by the waterside, Fenix Food Factory is home to fresh local products prepared for you on the spot as well as other craft products such as cider, beer and cheeses.

What are the most beautiful food halls or markets that you have been to? Get in touch!

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Why Fashion And Food Are Becoming Fast Friends
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Why Fashion And Food Are Becoming Fast Friends

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“The modern consumer looks to align themselves with experiences and brands that positively affirm their lifestyle, or are inspirational in some way. A relatively easy way to achieve this is through an element of food and beverage.”

Ed Francis is the Founder and Creative Director of the The Rebel Agency and works with brands to conceptualise and install bars and restaurants worldwide. He knows the way to a customer’s heart is (partly) through their stomach and, from international luxury behemoths like Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani through to single-site independents like Aida in London or Away in New York, the future is food and everyone’s hungry.

The concept of cafes in a shop is nothing new, of course. Department stores have traditionally had areas where shoppers can refuel – their key purpose: keeping the customer in the building. At the higher end, Bloomingdales in New York has various restaurant options, while Selfridges in London has just upped the ante by opening a summer pop-up rooftop restaurant with premium Italian restaurant group, San Carlo. But more recently, it’s the fashion brands who are leading the way with creative collaborations.

In 2013, Hackett opened its Beefeater 24 bar above its Regent Street flagship store. Managing Director, Vicente Castellano, told the Business of Fashion they hoped to “build a full luxury shopping experience for the Hackett customer” while boosting that all-important dwell time in the same stroke. “It is widely known that men do not necessarily spend a great deal of time in stores when shopping, so we felt that free gin and tonics were a great incentive to increase browsing time and ultimately increase sales.” It’s still going strong and has been featured in numerous GQ style guides, as has Ralph Lauren’s Ralph’s Coffee & Bar and Burberry’s cafe, Thomas’s.

Although it’s hard to attribute exactly how much these concessions contribute to the final bottom line, the broader facts speak for themselves: a study by the United States Department of Agriculture found that millennials were spending 44% of their ‘food dollars’ on eating out, while the UK coffee shop market is enjoying high-astronomical growth, rising by 37% since 2011.

Combine these head-turning numbers with the millennials’ fierce brand devotion and you’ve got what appears to be a no-brainer: “If you look at millennial behavior – though it’s going on beyond millennials now – they’ll tell you that they don’t like to be sold to,” says Ed Francis. “The reality is that we’re fiercely loyal to brands and we want these brands to evolve.” Where evolution used to mean branded pencils, now it’s single-estate coffee and artisan sandwiches.”

He continues: “as with all things, it’s not quite as straightforward as this. Your first major consideration should be – presuming you are working in collaboration with another brand or partner – that both sides are marching to the same tune. The culture of the businesses involved needs to be aligned. It has to be a win-win. It has to fit with the cultural DNA.”

In San Francisco, last month, online skincare and beauty brand Glossier activated a month-long pop-up in the city’s Rhea’s Cafe. It secured coverage from titles like Elle, Vogue and Hello! and while cafe owner, James Choi, told Eater he “thought it was insane at first”, he changed his mind after sitting down with Glossier’s CEO, Emily Weiss. “She founded her company because she didn’t like what the market was offering,” Choi told Eater. “When I first started my sandwich shop as someone not from the food industry, I wanted a platform for people to enjoy the food without hassle, and she felt the same.”

In a world where olfactive branding is a thing, the issues of smell should not be discounted either. The aroma of roasted coffee might evoke memories of slow Sunday mornings for most, but will it work twirling the rails of your beautiful clothes? Ditto noise: will steaming coffee machines or the sound of ice in glasses interfere with the serene atmosphere you’ve lovingly created? Only you can answer that. The question is simple: in the world where experience is king, what do you want yours to be?

Originally Published on Appear Here

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Top 4 Interior Design Comebacks
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Top 4 Interior Design Comebacks

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What goes around comes around they say. Though this is not only for karma, we have also seen this in interior design trends. Trends that were popular decades ago are making their way back into 2018. Whether it is surfaces, materials or furnishings, they are being reinterpreted and suddenly reappearing into our lives.

1920 -1930’s Art Deco

Whether in its original form or a reinterpretation of art deco, the roaring 20’s have been revived. Last year was all about velvet and metallic finishes, and still, a key influence for this year. But adding to this decade, we see dark woods, sumptuous fabrics such as jewel-toned velvets and the use of materials such as marble and semi-precious stones to get that elegant feeling from the lavish cocktail and champagne decade.

We particularly like XU and Epoca’s interiors which both feel unmistakably deco whilst completely current.

1950’s Rattan

Rattan continues to be a go-to material for both, indoors and outdoors. Whether it’s chairs, tables, vases or even lamps, we see this originally Indian material coming back and making its way even into the most luxurious spots, as shown here in La Forêt Noire in Chaponost.

1950’s – 1980’s Bold to Pastel Colours

We saw mid-century bold colour palettes coming back when everything became bright pink, but this year we’re seeing more and more colour. Whether a statement chair, a fridge or a full colourful kitchen, we’re seeing bright yellows, greens and purples coming back. However, at the same time, pastel colours remain popular. From pink and peach to mustard and jade green we see these colours taking over and especially when combined with black or metallic details. Whether it is pastel like at SHUGAA in Bangkok or Bold like at Oretta in Toronto, we see colours everywhere especially inspired by graphic patterns.

1970’s Terrazzo

Terrazzo is a material that can be found so commonly, yet it is often under appreciated. A common use for this material was for public floors at, for example, train stations. However, we see Terrazzo coming back as more than just a long lasting floor, but a material to design outstanding lamps (like the ones below from 1stdibs) , and beautiful tables, just like the central island and tables in one of our latest projects, Sapling in Dalston.

We love seeing old trends coming back and reinterpreted for the current day. Did we miss any that you think will take over 2018?

Get in touch!

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Our Favourite Food and Drink Spots in Miami
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Our Favourite Food and Drink Spots in Miami

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Besides having an incredible amount of STUNNING art deco buildings, Miami also has many great restaurants. From Wynwood, to Miami Beach, to rooftops we couldn’t resist trying all the great places that are out there, even if that meant having two dinners in one night. So here is a list of our favourite spots, which we most definitely recommend for your next visit.

KYU

Our ultimate favourite and not the first time we visited, but after our first experience, there was no doubt we had to come back. KYU is an Asian fusion restaurant in Wynwood with excellent cocktails and food to die for. If you are there, you have to try the cauliflower, soft shell crab buns and the truffle gyozas. But even better, choose the chefs menu and let the cool staff bring you their signature dishes and favourites.

Doheny Room at Delano Hotel

This hotel is remarkable before you even walk into it due to its classic art deco architecture. When walking in, they have several F&B outlets, but their bar Doheny is definitely one of our favourites. With neon lights, velvet couches and delicious cocktails this bar is perfect for a drinks night out in a stylish and cosy atmosphere.

Matador Room at The EDITION Hotel

As the name of this restaurant suggests (Matador in Spanish means bullfighter), the restaurant setting is a Spanish inspired bullfighting ring, where you can eat delicious Spanish and Latin inspired food with a modern twist made. We were big fans of their avocado pizza, simple ingredients but made to perfection.

Sugar at East Hotel

Besides great drinks and decor, Sugar has the most stunning views over the city. Seeing the Miami skyline is a must when in the city, and what better than Asian-influenced snacks and dazzling cocktails to go with it.

Alter

Wynwood again. Like most trendy neighbourhoods, this was a gehtto that got some investment and became one of the hippest areas in the city. Thus, there is no doubt the most amazing restaurants set up here (2 of our 5 favs). So last, but definitely not least, Alter is a full 5 or 7 course dining experience in an industrial setting that merge together beautifully with exquisite food in a fun atmosphere with excellent music.

Think we’re missing something, or want to suggest something to add to the list? Get in touch!

(Image credits: KYU, Alter, Food for Thought Miami, Delano Hotel, East Hotel, The EDITION Hotel)

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6 Things We Dig In Delhi
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6 Things We Dig In Delhi

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2018 looks like another year of exciting projects in the subcontinent as we continue to yo-yo in and out of India. As part of the development and launch of a new café brand in Gurgaon, we’ve dug deep to unearth some seriously interesting, talented people and companies in the Delhi region. These 6 awesome creative companies have captured our attention above everyone else and reminded us of how lucky we are to be able to spend time in such an exciting country.

Taxi Fabric

Set up by our very talented pal Sanket Avlani, Taxi Fabric has given taxi drivers, rickshaw-walas and now buses in India the ultimate tool to stand out from the crowd. Working with emerging designers to create amazing textile designs that narrate Indian stories, the platform has taken the iconic taxi culture in India to the next level. Founded in Mumbai, but spreading to Delhi, Taxi fabric has launched 36 fabulous designs. Here are some of our favourites:

As we are all about food, it is no surprise we fell for this Delhi’s Belly taxi.

A cause we strongly stand for, designed by Indian illustrator and graphic designer, Kruttika Susarla. Also the creator of the Feminist Alphabet.

No. 3 Clive Road

As organic and local tea production continuous to increase, No. 3 Clive Road stands out with their hand blended teas and gorgeous premium letter-pressed stationery also used for their packaging, and available for sale.

The Gourmet Jar

The word “chutney” is derived from the Hindi word चटनी (chaṭnī), so when writing about India, how could we not think of chutney? The Gourmet Jar caught our eye with their range of handmade chutneys and other gourmet condiments, as well as their mission to empower women in India to work and be able to support their families.

Bhane

Founded by Anand Ahuja in 2012, bhane is a contemporary clothing brand built upon the idea that brand names don’t matter. Their belief in creating a culture of individuality and freedom led them to open their fist concept store in Meherchand Market, New Delhi, which besides a clothing store has a small yet lovely cafe to complete the bhane experience.

Likewise, bhane encourages (and does and excellent job at proving) the belief that India should not only be seen as a manufacturer, but also a leader in apparel design.

Nimai

Nimai is a handcrafted and artisanal jewellery community with more than 80 jewellery artists from the Indian subcontinent. All work is absolutely stunning, but it was their exclusive collection, “wear a promise”, that we liked the most.

PROMISE is a bangle with a compartment to store a handwritten vow to oneself or to someone. Beautiful jewellery, for a beautiful cause. The first promise is to Laxmi Agarwal, who was attacked and had acid thrown at her face. “wear a promise” wants to encourage hope and change by promising 3% of their sales to improving Laxmi’s future.

Nappa Dori

Last but definitely not least, Nappa Dori, which literally means ‘leather and thread’, has outstanding leather goods handcrafted by artisans. We love the mix of design and craftsmanship that they bring and particularly adore this postman-style bag adorned with a print of Chennai’s railway station.

Pick us up over on Instagram for further details and a sneak peak at our upcoming Gurgaon café project and everything else that we’re up to. And as always, get in touch if there’s ever anything you’d like to chat about.

Cheers – team Rebel

(Image credits – Taxi Fabric, No. 3 Clive Road, The Gourmet Jar, bhane, Nimai, Nappa Dori)

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Design Inspiration From Our Travels
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Design Inspiration From Our Travels

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2017 has been a great year for us and whether for business or pleasure, we've been lucky enough to travel to some incredible places around the world, making sure that we checked out what the locals were up to every step of the way. Here's a little round up of Design Inspiration and other things that sparked our interest throughout the year.

Ministry of New, Mumbai

Ed has been making monthly trips to Mumbai this year as part of an ongoing contract with celebrated local restaurateur AD Singh and Ministry of New provides welcome calm and solace from the busy, bustling streets of the city. This co-working "Professional Oasis" was designed by Dutch Art Director and Co-founder Marlies Bloemendaal, and is the perfect place for a productive day's work, networking, collaboration and taking time out over a good book.

We adore the Library for it's tranquility and design with Marlies' eye for detail creating an evolving, ever-interesting space, whilst the Gallery is a hushed, bright and serene environment for focusing on the day's task list and getting things done.

Ministry of New

Kitab Mahal 3rd Floor

192 Dadabhai Naoroji Road

Azad Maidan, Fort

Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

The Pulitzer, Amsterdam

As far as boutique hotels go, The Pulitzer is up there at the top of our list. Spanning a block between the Prinsengracht and Keisersgracht and comprising no less than 25 original canal-side houses, the hotel is a rabbit warren of understated, elegant and considered design encompassing stunning courtyards, restaurants, bars and common spaces.

The property felt warm and cosy on the grey December afternoon of our visit, but we can’t wait to go back in the summer and soak up some sun on one of those courtyards.

The Pulitzer

Prisengracht 323,

1016 GZ Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

This striking property sites at the very tip of Baja California Sur, where the sea of Cortez meets the Pacific. Whilst we weren’t blown away by dinner at their signature restaurant, Manta, we were wowed by the ground floor lobby, lounge and bar which bears the full weight of the property above whilst being open to the elements, and therefore uninterrupted views of the sea and the Land’s End promontory which makes for an incredible back drop to one of the finest sunsets we’ve ever seen.

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel

Carretera Transpeninsular Km 5,

Misiones del Cabo,

23455 Cabo San Lucas,

B.C.S., Mexico

25 Hours Hotel, Vienna

Our projects with Marriott hotels in both Europe and the US have meant that we’ve been keeping a close eye on the mid-market hotel sector this year. Along with stays at the new-ish Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam and Citizen M Tower of London, a night at Vienna’s 25 Hours Hotel gave us real insight in to the sector and how operators are creating original experiences through in room quirks, heavily millennial-focused branding and solid food & beverage outlets patronised by non-residents as much as hotel guests themselves.

25 Hours ticks all the relevant trend boxes as well as features such as free bicycle hire, Minis to test drive, balcony bath tubs, curated retail, in-your-face instagrammable branding and uber trendy staff.

25 Hours Hotel, Museums Quartier, Vienna

Lerchenfelder Str. 1-3,

1070 Wien, Austria

Koinonia Coffee Roasters, Mumbai

Great coffee has traditionally been hard to find in India, and whilst the country has grown coffee commercially since the 1600’s, the industry has been slow to react to industry changes elsewhere on the globe. With homegrown chains such as Café Coffee Day dominating the market alongside Starbucks, the sector has been flooded with mediocrity and pedestrian high street offerings.

We were hugely relieved when Koinonia opened their roastery and café a stone’s throw from our client’s office in Mumbai and, ever since we’ve been making daily visits for their perfect flat whites, cold brew and their ‘Affogato menu’, the latter being their way of introducing a market used to sweet, syrupy coffees, to black coffee and more refined flavours.

Koinonia Coffee Roasters

66, Dr BR Ambedkar Rd,

Chuim Village,

Khar West,

Mumbai, Maharashtra 400052

Anglo, Clerkenwell, London

And so to wrap things up, we’ve racked our brains and debated heavily the subject of best meal of the year. Contenders included Mumbai’s Masque and Stoke Newington’s Perilla, we finally settled on the absolutely flawless Anglo just off Leather Lane in Clerkenwell.

We struggled to find fault in a single element of a single dish, as we made our way through what is probably the best value tasting menu in London, washed down by some fabulous natural Czech wines from Ota Ševčík, whom we’d been introduced to at Moravia’s Autentikfest the week before.

Anglo

20 St Cross St,

London

EC1N 8UH

From everyone at Rebel, have a very Merry Christmas and our best wishes for a delicious and beautiful 2018.

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