The Curtain, Shoreditch: Neighbours plagued by posh hotel’s pong

A tanker takes away the sewage from The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch. Picture: Joshua Thurston

A tanker takes away the sewage from The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch. Picture: Joshua Thurston - Credit: Joshua Thurston -

Since it moved in two years ago, the foul stench emanating from The Curtain has meant the five-star luxury hotel hasn’t been a popular addition to the area for some of its neighbours.

Traffic backs up in Christina Street while two tankers are used to remove sewage from The Curtain ho

Traffic backs up in Christina Street while two tankers are used to remove sewage from The Curtain hotel. Picture: Martin Orpen - Credit: martin orpen

A fault with its sewage system means tankers have been drafted in to Christina Street behind the hotel nine times, for up to three days at a time, to suck out months' worth of excrement that does not drain into the mains.

The result has been an unbearable stench of diesel and sewage fumes for residents and businesses, disrupting their lives and work.

"There is a strong smell of sewage for the entire day which is not only deeply unpleasant, but takes a physical toll too," said one of them.

"Raw sewage contains hydrogen sulfide - a by-product of decaying matter - and to be exposed to this toxic gas can be detrimental to health. It is unacceptable for us to be expected to breathe this contaminated air in."

The Curtain at night. Picture: Joshua Thurston

The Curtain at night. Picture: Joshua Thurston - Credit: Joshua Thurston


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Martin Orpen, the director of retouching agency Idea Digital Imaging whose window backs on to where the tankers park up, has had to cancel important meetings as a result.

"Vogue's fashion editor, Venetia Scott was supposed to visit tomorrow, but we've had to rearrange this and it has been embarrassing to admit why," he told the Gazette this week.

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In an email seen by this newspaper, hotelier and owner Michael Achenbaum - who opened the first luxury hotel in New York's meatpacking district - told one neighbour the matter was damaging to his own hotel guests and club members, too. "While we appreciate your frustration," he said, "it would be amazing if you would attempt to show some empathy to a difficult situation both taxing on us mentally and financially."

In a statement to the Gazette the hotel has apologised for the disruption.

A tanker takes away the sewage from The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch. Picture: Joshua Thurston

A tanker takes away the sewage from The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch. Picture: Joshua Thurston - Credit: Joshua Thurston -

A spokesperson said the problem was caused by errors in the original installation of the drainage pits. But they said works being carried out now should fix it permanently and there should be no need for the tankers to return again.

"Bouygues are the contractor who built the hotel and are now rectifying the problem," they said. "It is regrettable that the defect is not a simple fix, and a result of the issue is the need to pump the pits intermittently. However once rectified this will no longer be necessary. The smells are unpleasant but there is no danger to public health."

The Curtain in Shoreditch. Picture: Joshua Thurston

The Curtain in Shoreditch. Picture: Joshua Thurston - Credit: Joshua Thurston

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