Lina Zakzeckyte, GM, HART SHOREDITCH

Posted in People on 8 May, 2024

Since opening its doors in 2020, Hart Shoreditch, part of the Hilton Curio collection, has become a firm favourite within the creative community in which it resides. In conversation with SPACE, GM Lina Zakzeckyte discusses emerging travel trends, creative collaborations and respecting the hotel’s storied past.

Hart Shoreditch – Lobby area

Where did you grow up and were your family involved in hospitality?
I grew up in Lithuania and none of my family were involved in hospitality. My mum is a teacher and my dad is an engineer. After university, I came to the UK and loved it. I couldn’t speak a word of English but I wanted to stay and my dad always said to me that if I worked hard enough at anything I could get to where I wanted to be – so that’s what I did and got my first job in hospitality. 

Could you share a little about your journey to being GM of Hart Shoreditch?
My first job in the industry was tough but I was too proud to give up so just kept going. I moved to The Savoy and it blew my mind. Every bedroom had a different design and I memorised every detail, down to each luggage rack. Over the years I moved to several other luxury London properties, worked on new openings, and started to learn about things like purchasing and labour costing. I never really thought about being a GM, but I loved the idea of being a project manager, fixing things and having the opportunity to start with a blank canvas, as we did with Hart Shoreditch. 

King Deluxe Room

Now in your fourth year at Hart Shoreditch, have you noticed any emerging trends in tourism?
I’m passionate about the trend to use more video content and was part of a Hotel Marketing Association panel discussion around this with speakers from Google, TikTok and Cube, hosted at Hart Shoreditch. We’ve also seen the trend of working from anywhere grow massively and find that the lines between work and pleasure travel are increasingly blurred. People want to travel well whatever the purpose of their visit and an authentic connection with the local community is more important than ever. 

Connecting with the local community is a popular aspiration for hotels at the moment. Why do you believe Hart Shoreditch has achieved this so successfully?
Since taking on the role of GM at Hart Shoreditch when it opened nearly five years ago, one of my biggest aims has been to leave a positive and inspiring impact on the neighbourhood and wider community. Championing our local entrepreneurs and being supporters of equal opportunity for all is at the heart of all we do. I believe that having this mission from the start and being genuine and authentic with it is why we’ve been so successful. 

Could you give some examples of recent and forthcoming creative happenings Hart Shoreditch will be hosting?
We recently partnered with bath and body care brand Soapsmith, for a bespoke ‘Brick Lane’ collection of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Founder Samantha Jameson also led workshops for guests to learn how to make their own bath soaks and we are in discussions with several other local creatives for a series of workshops this year. As always, our eyes are also set on London Design Festival (LDF), something I have been personally and intensely involved in over the last two-plus years. For LDF 2023 we hosted the ‘Fundamentals of Caring’ Immersive Exhibition, curated by local artist James Daw. James teamed up with 4D animator Lisa Sheehan, the talented photographer/art assistant Anna Rotar, ceramic artist Will Martin and Aromatise who created a bespoke scent with notes of metal, wood and leather. All creating an interactive, sensory journey. I’ve no doubt that LDF 2024 will be even bigger and better! 

King One Bed Suite Living Room

Does Hart Shoreditch attract a creative crowd?
Hart Shoreditch is a vibrant hub within the community, and we regularly host local artists in residence and live music events, collaborating with local businesses, and supporting charity initiatives. Due to this, we do naturally attract a creative crowd, but we welcome everyone through our doors no matter where they are on their creative journey. 

Post pandemic, co-working is a popular option for many. Has Hart Shoreditch’s offering proved successful?
Absolutely. The hotel’s lobby has a contemporary free co-working space that is hugely popular and every time I walk through and see people working there it gives me a buzz. The idea came from our commitment to developing and supporting the neighbourhood. We wanted to create a space for people to feel comfortable and inspired, a place where they can think creatively and exchange ideas with like-minded people. With ample space, fast Wi-Fi, and hotel’s F&B services, it makes the perfect place for focussed work or group meetings. 

What do you feel sets Hart Shoreditch apart from other London properties within the Curio Collection by Hilton?
Our unique design story and our outstanding service is what sets us apart. Hart Shoreditch tells a one-of-a-kind story with its own character that is very much inspired by its destination. It truly celebrates the rich heritage of the surrounding area yet also provides a more contemporary outlook. Every element of the hotel has been carefully thought through and put together with care to highlight the authentic truths of Shoreditch and its past industries. Our service is warm, welcoming, and personal. Our team shares a passion for making guests feel truly at home as they bring their own colourful personalities to inspire and create unforgettable experiences. 

Skylight suite

With much emphasis- both design-led and experiential- where did your own appreciation of the arts come from?
It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I attended art classes at school and my parents always encouraged me, so much so that I studied the arts at high school and also went on to do more around furniture, graphic and even lighting design. 

Who were the design team behind the creative interiors?
Hart Shoreditch was designed in partnership with London-based interior design consultancy Fabled Studio. The team seamlessly blended the vibrant heritage and modern-day creativity of Shoreditch to create a contemporary living experience inspired by a rich history of craftsmanship. Deeply rooted in celebrating the industries that once thrived in Shoreditch, such as furniture makers and carpenters, beautiful features can be found throughout the hotel. These include the stunning statement wrought iron staircase replicating the silk weaving process and hammered copper detailing on the reception desk harking back to the metalworkers of Victorian Shoreditch. 

I understand you’ve launched a new restaurant UBA in the hotel. Could you tell us a little about it and the inspiration behind it?
UBA brings tastes of Asia to London’s East End, but it’s much more than just a restaurant. Reflecting Shoreditch’s eclectic vibe, the new venue offers guests a multi-sensory celebration of Pan-Asian flavours, creative cocktails, and serious sounds, wrapped in a lively and playful package that mirrors the essence of the hotel itself. Chef Paul Greening has an amazing menu and we have exciting plans for events and DJ nights too – watch this space! 

UBA restaurant at Hart Shoreditch

As GM, what do you consider to be your biggest challenges in 2024
We had such a successful 2023, which is fantastic, but it means that this year I am really focused on the challenge of maintaining this success. Everyone in the industry feels the same and while we all want to build on this and make 2024 even better, we first need to maintain things and ensure the best possible experience for our guests. 

And on a rare day off…
I’d head out into the countryside hiking and fishing!

 

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