Green is the New Black: I Woke Up in a Room with 200 Plants

Green is the New Black: I Woke Up in a Room with 200 Plants

Injecting a little nature into London’s concrete jungle, the UK’s first houseplant-filled hotel suites remind city dwellers of the restorative benefits of botanicals.

houseplant industry is blossoming. Follow the
#plantsofinstagram hashtag and your feed will sprout nearly four
million posts. For millennials and Gen Zers, plant babies are the
mode du jour (along with avocados, craft coffee and financial
insecurity). We know our fiddle leaf fig and string of pearls from
our chinese money plant and dracena. For context: I’m 28 and have
all of the above.

It’s no headline-grabbing news that more nature usually means
more happiness. But the cruel truth is that a few token succulents
on a windowsill will rarely cut it when we need a real boost. So on
a miserable late-October
evening, my mood tainted by advancing winter blues and too many
deadlines, I make my way to Whitechapel, where Leman Locke hotel has taken
biophilic design – that inspired by our natural environment – to
the next level.

In collaboration with nature-loving platform The Joy of Plants, the avant-garde aparthotel has
transformed three studio suites into verdant, multisensory
environments in an attempt to remind city dwellers of the
therapeutic benefits of plants. Dreamed up by Grace
& Thorn
founder Nik Southern, designer and architect Oliver
Heath and This Morning’s “Mr Plant Geek” Michael Perry, each suite
is designed to stimulate a different mood – one to aid work,
another to be calm and a third to ignite passion.

I’m staying in Heath’s delightfully eccentric Productivity
Suite. As I step inside my eyes are drawn to the windows where, in
the recesses, spider plants curl their fingers towards the floor. I
brush past variegated monstera and deep-purple prayer plants as I
explore. My kitchen counter is a sensory bounty of rosemary and
sage. In the bathroom, I struggle to see myself for the zesty
Boston ferns reaching across the mirror.

Is it
? Yes. Against a palette of muted greys and
brass, a carnation-pink sofa is fringed by trailing devil’s ivy and
dwarf mountain palms. Beside sturdy rubber plants, blonde woods cut
mid-century shapes. I’ve stumbled into a Pinterest board.

Deadlines smashed, I pass a screen of plants that separates the
living area from a calm bedroom space strung with lavender. As I
wind down, a small book enlightens me on how to recreate a
forest-bathing experience at home and offers biophilic hacks that
include using jasmine to stimulate memory. The perfumed air feels
clean, the ambience is peaceful and I drift into a deep, remedial

Leman Locke’s other installations also harness the power of
nature. Nik Southern’s Romance Suite encourages guests to get
passionate among the pilea with a botanical bed canopy and a
dedicated plant ASMR channel. Meanwhile Michael Perry’s Tranquil
Suite decked out in bromeliads benefits from a meditation space and
a rug made of living moss.

In the morning I wake to a world in soft focus, light filtering
through feathered fronds and fishbone cacti. It’s a boon for my
mood and circadian rhythm a pamphlet tells me, though it doesn’t
need to. I know because for the first time in months I reach for a
(complimentary) yoga mat and hang out in downward dog before
finding the headspace to meditate semi-successfully.

After a jasmine tea and hemp-enriched energy ball, I head into
the office where three colleagues comment (unprompted) on how I
seem happier and… blooming. Had I discovered the joy of plants?

It turns out that you don’t have to schlep to the sticks to reap
the benefits of nature. London’s concrete-clad
East End
may not be the most likely destination for a dose of
green, but these installations have proved that the humble
houseplant can be much more than a decorative object. Breathing
life into homes and workspaces (and, indeed, hotel suites), they
can boost happiness and health and sow the seeds of wellbeing and
creativity. Just don’t forget to water them.

The Lowdown

Guests can book one of The Joy of Plants suites at Leman Locke
until 10 November.

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