explore the arts hotel offering hope to the capital’s cash-strapped creatives
As Green Rooms opens its doors, its founder talks us through how he hopes to address London's affordable accommodation and workspace shortage.
Few stereotypes are more prevalent in the creative industries than that of the 'starving artist'. Whether you're a DJ, designer, writer or singer, there's a strong possibility that, at some point, you'll be asked to relocate to London and pay £700 per month (bills not included, obviously…) for a tiny basement in Zone 4. Tales of greedy landlords and widespread gentrification still dominate media, but the recent opening of self-proclaimed 'arts hotel' Green Rooms offers a ray of hope to downtrodden millennials across the capital. Located just seconds away from Wood Green underground, the hotel offers a range of double and single rooms at affordable prices or, if you don't mind sharing with fellow creatives, large dormitories which are decidedly more glamorous than most hostels. Top priority is given to creatives; there's even a booking process which asks prospective guests for examples of work and portfolios in order to assure that the space remains a haven for like-minded creatives to come together and share ideas. So, why now? More importantly, why Wood Green? i-D reached out to Nick Hartwright, the hotel's founder to get more information.
What was the catalyst for Green Rooms?
London has needed somewhere like Green Rooms for a long time. It's a brilliant city and a real hotbed for creativity, but it's becoming incredibly expensive and it's becoming increasingly tough for emerging artists. If London is to retain its artistic hub status, we need more affordable accommodation options, and more workspace for artists. We need to make it easier for young people in all creative industries to come here.
It had been at the back of my mind for a while, it was just about finding the right site. A few years ago I set up a pop-up hotel for a number of theatre companies visiting the UK and it worked incredible well. What was great about it were the interactions between the two groups - it's one thinking working together, but it's another to stay with like-minded people. Conversations spark ideas which can become projects and, sometimes, fully-fledged creative businesses. Green Rooms is about bringing creative communities together, and I've no doubt some brilliant ventures will be conceived here.
What drew you to Haringey?
It's a really vibrant, diverse area, and there's a lot of creative work happening here. More artists are basing themselves here, it's just a bit under the radar at the moment - creatives in Haringey have been working in isolation. I felt there were pockets of creativity but there was a lack of a space for people to come together and share ideas.
As co-founder of the Mill Co. Project, I'm always on the lookout for vacant or derelict buildings that could be repurposed. Around 18 months ago I had a meeting on the seventh floor of a council office block across the road, talking about another site in Tottenham and I happened to glance outside and clock the striking building at 13-27 Station Road. I was told that Haringey Council owned the building and that it had been vacant since 2009. It was then that Green Rooms was born.
Who, specifically, are you hoping will benefit from the hotel?
Green Rooms is principally aimed at artists and creatives, but rooms are available to the wider public too. If people have limited funds but they're bored of bland, formulaic budget hotels and don't fancy AirBnB, it's a great place to stay. We've already got block bookings from visiting theatre and arts organisations; it's a no-brainer for institutions like this, because it means they can put large groups of people up in one place instead of spreading them across London. Similarly, we've had enquiries and bookings from emerging artists that need to come and spend a few days in London for work. These people don't have much to spend on accommodation, but they want somewhere cool to stay. We also expect Green Rooms to benefit local artists and the wider Wood Green community too, and early signs suggest this will be the case. We've already signed up local artists for exhibitions and performances at the hotel.
What has been the response so far?
Brilliant. We've already got an 80% occupancy rate for the first three months and we've had lots of different bookings. In July we've got a 20-room, two-week booking from a Japanese dance troupe and then Frieze will be sending emerging artists our way for the art fair in October. We've had lots of one-man bands too, and from curious people that want to try something different. We're working with partner organisations like the British Council and Somerset House too, they've put a lot of business our way. It's going to be interesting to see the geographical mix - I think it will be around 60% UK-based visitors and 40% international based on current data.
What advice would you give to young creatives relocating to London?
I think it's tough for young creatives coming to London in the current climate, and that's partly why we started Green Rooms, to make things slightly easier for them. I think they need to be tenacious - it's not easy to make your own way in the creative industry, you need to be committed. You might get knocked back occasionally but it's important to get back up.
Also, it's a horrible word but networking is key. Meet people, make connections and force the issue; you can't sit back and wait for things to happen, you have to initiate. There are good people out there too, people that want to see others succeed. People reached out when I was starting out, so now I try to help too.
Text Jake Hall