An interview with Adam Hyman from Code Hospitality.
We catch up with Adam Hyman, founder of CODE Hospitality, a digital community for people working in hospitality.
Travelling across the globe, meeting industry leaders in top restaurants and overnight hotspots, Adam finds hotels and restaurants have become more than just venues, they’re inspiring spaces. He talks us through his love for travel and how locations, hotels and restaurants have inspired his space, at home.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in hospitality?
I have never actually worked in hospitality, but it is something I have loved since a young age. My mother has always worked in the hospitality industry, which meant I was lucky enough to eat at nice restaurants, and go to nice places on holiday. In fact, when I first went to New York with my parents at 16, I visited some really cool restaurants. This was when I first thought hospitality was actually quite cool. It wasn't until 2012, when I became involved in the industry. I was in commercial property first, which was okay, but just not quite for me.
What is Code Hospitality and how did it come about?
In around 2009/2010, I noticed the central London restaurant scene had really changed, with places like ‘Polpo’ opening and dining out becoming fun, affordable and a lot more relaxed. That was a big catalyst for my next steps with CODE Hospitality.
I saw that there was a gap in the market for CODE - though, if I am being 100% honest, I kind of made it up as I went along, starting with a newsletter that went out to 30 people. We now reach around 50,000, so, it was really about targeting that little gap within the market of the mid-high end independent, central London restaurant scene.
CODE started as a newsletter, designed to be consumed on your phone, in about 5 minutes or less - obviously most people in hospitality, like front of house chefs, aren't sitting at a computer with huge amounts of spare time. It would be a very brief summary about what had happened over the past week.
Off the back of that, it had become quite popular and useful for industry professionals. Then, we had a few suggestions that we should do job adverts, given our good audience base. So we decided to do just that.
A few chefs that I knew, also said to me that “there’s this unwritten rule in hospitality, that if you’re a general manager and I go into your restaurant and I know you, then you chuck me a few free dishes or a glass of champagne”. Yet whilst I thought this was quite cool, those who aren't general managers shouldn't really have to miss out on those perks. That’s when we started our Membership Scheme which now has over 25,000 members, whereby if you work in hospitality you can go to partnering restaurants and get discounts when dining out.
As the Founder, could you give us some insight into your day to day at Code, what are your focuses?
As we all know, the past year has been very different. Usually my day would be full of meetings; meeting people over breakfast, lunches and dinners. It’s a great perk of working with people in restaurants. But unfortunately, we haven't been able to socialise like that in a while.
Our focus right now is on getting the business back to its own best health, back to ‘normal’ business routines. A big part of what we’re doing actually, is trying to support hospitality, with a big drive in getting customers back into restaurants. We’re reassuring people it is safe to go out, since restaurants are generally safe places to be at, with strict hygiene and health and safety regulations. It’s really about championing the industry at the moment.
We can see you have a collection of art in your home, could you tell us a bit about your interior inspiration and how you go about making your edit?
There is a real mixture of stuff, as I like to collect things from different places. I actually have quite a few restaurant menus that are framed. For example, there is one from a restaurant in New York called ‘Monkey Bar’. Interestingly, now that menus have turned into digitised QR codes, I really don't want to lose the traditional concept of giving physical menus. A lot of restaurants, especially the ‘classics’, have amazing sketches or illustrations on the back of their menus, like this New York restaurant and a few others I have framed in the bathroom.
In the bedroom is an artwork from Seoul in South Korea, from when I went there. I like to collect small pieces. Actually, a lot of the rest of the artwork in my home is from my father, who collects John Piper paintings. Piper creates these abstract landscape pieces which I really love. I feel artworks always finish a space.
When it comes to your spaces and how you like it to feel - do you think it can impact how you host?
I used to think a home should be immaculate, as though it was straight out of a magazine show home. But now, I think a house that doesn't look or feel lived in is a little weird. A house should be tidy and clean but also a home, in that it is lived in. All furniture regardless of its age or price should be able to be sat in, or used.
I like my space to look nice but also be practical. I don’t like things to look too sterile - I enjoy colour and texture, like a bit of wood. This way the space isn't too cold. I have also always been a fan of mid-century furniture, which works well in the Barbican (one of the UK’ Brutalist architectural treasures), more than it would in other houses.
From your experience, can you name a best-in class lounge and bedroom space in the hospitality industry?
In terms of bedroom spaces, ‘Upper House’ in Hong Kong springs to mind. It’s a hotel that actually starts on the 17th or 18th floor, with shops and offices below. The rooms are incredible with large lounge spaces and huge bathrooms, where the bath is actually set against the window overlooking Hong Kong city. Such amazing views, for such an amazing space. It has its own unique scent that also makes it memorable, the thought of the smell always takes me right back there.
Are there any restaurant spaces in London you find particularly inspiring?
I am a massive fan of The Wolseley, as it is classic and offers the best hospitality. The space is also beautifully designed. The building itself used to be a former car show room and a bank and the restaurant interiors were designed by David Collins Studio with inspiration from the grand European cafes.
Do you look for hotel comfort in your own home?
Yeah, actually, I think we sometimes forget that we spend the majority of our time in bed. Hotel sheets always have a different, better quality feel, something I like to also feel in my own home. But I also think that hotels could learn more from functional at-home bedrooms, like making sure you can turn your lamp off from the side of the bed, and plug your phone in beside it.
Still, I do love hotels and take a lot of inspiration from them. For example, the wooden panel I have going into the bedroom instead of a door was inspired by Aman hotel chains that have Japanese style interiors. You can definitely get lots of ideas from hotels, and even restaurants, about how to furnish your house.
Tell us a bit about the style, colours and furniture and what made you choose some of the main elements.
The Barbican is grade A listed, so I can’t change too much. When I moved into the flat, it hadn't been lived in or really touched for a long time, so I decided to rip out all of the carpets, cupboards and clunky fire exit-type doors that led into the bedroom. I then started decorating the wardrobes, with the idea of them being that same Japanese style.
I try to keep it quite simple and minimalist, whilst maintaining that cosy, lived-in feel. I know a lot of people may disagree, but I also love having a TV in the bedroom - something that does remind me of being in a hotel actually.
Is the quality of your bedding important to you, in ensuring a good night's sleep?
Yes, I remember buying previous bed sheets that after washing aren't as soft as they used to be or in as good condition. But the beddable white ones I have today are classic and simple. The older you get, the more you realise that having a nice duvet and good pillow set makes all the difference to your sleep.
Have you been anywhere within the hospitality industry that has inspired your personal home and style?
Japan, where I went a few years ago and stayed for a long period of time, has been very inspirational. I love Japanese woodwork and craft. The blinds on my windows, wardrobes, and wooden partitionings are all from Japan.
With there being so much choice out there to decorate and furnish your home - do you have any ‘go to’ places that you always visit for an extra piece?
I go to Chiswick, where my mum lives, to this really great, antique warehouse called The Old Cinema. As a huge converted cinema space, there are two floors of antiques with a mixture of pieces including some great mid-century furniture styles. I bought my coffee table, mirror and side tables from there, it’s a great spot.
There is another place on the corner of Columbia road, ironically called 2 Columbia Road, which is a great place to shop, say if you’re going to the Flower Market too.
I often stay away from shops that are more in the mainstream because everyone ends up with the same style of furniture. Saying that, H&M Home and Zara Home do stock some great singular pieces - my rugs are actually from H&M Home. They’re ideal for if you're on a budget but want something that still looks stylish. I think you can have some more classic, contemporary investment pieces but also accessorise with smaller, inexpensive items.
We love your Mid- Century style, do you have a favourite or meaningful piece?
This 1960’s Danish School desk is my favourite actually. It is a really nice piece that is slightly small in size for practical use but has an interesting story. It’s narrative is what makes it meaningful. I also have a gigantic blue table lamp, which is a 1950’s German design. There is something about it I just love, blue is my favourite colour too.