Destination bar Aurum has opened in Southend-on-Sea as part of a new boutique hotel, reports Mark Ludmon. Photography by ProfotoDesign
With tourism growing year on year and its own international airport, Southend-on-Sea on the Essex coast is on the up. The latest arrival is The Seven Hotel, a luxurious 37-bedroom boutique hotel overlooking the seafront which opened in January after a £4million investment by entrepreneur Jawed Rashid and his sons-in-law Sadiq Chikte and Omar Rahimi. At its heart is Aurum, a destination bar centred on gin and cocktails and a 70-cover restaurant specialising in local, seasonal ingredients under award-winning head chef Simon Webb, previously head chef for Private Dining by Roux at The Langham hotel in London.
The owners brought in leading hospitality designers Tibbatts Abel to create interiors that would be inviting with a classy contemporary edge to rival places in London. “Our inspiration for the design and colour palette is taken from the sea, with iridescent metallic hues along with a highlight tone of sea green throughout,” explains designer Adam Tibbatts.
The lounge bar has been designed as a multi-functional space for late-night cocktails or daytime business meetings, but overall as a place to relax, with an inviting open fireplace. It has a mix of high-level poseur tables next to the bar and low-level lounge-style seating within the window line. The restaurant’s striking interiors have been given added drama through a large central lighting installation alongside a flexible set-up of intimate booths and loose tables. For warmer weather, Aurum’s bi-folding doors can be opened up onto a terrace area, with views across the estuary.
Under bar manager Charlotte Wood, the bar stocks over 25 gins, including Tiptree gin liqueurs from Essex, reflecting Aurum’s championing of local produce. This can also be seen in the line-up of beers and wines, such as Essex’s Billericay Brewing Company and Chapel Down wines and Curious Brew beer from Kent. However, there are also selected brands from further afield, such as house champagne Taittinger and plenty of gins such as Copperhead from Belgium.
The cocktails have been put together by Charlotte and the team, including Simon Webb, drawing on the kitchen’s resources. They are particularly championing the umami taste profile with some of the savoury and herbal flavours seen in Simon’s dishes, such as the Basil Smash, the Leche de Tigre with chilli, coriander, lime and gin, and the house Martini made with Hendrick’s, cucumber and wasabi.
Aurum is part of the regeneration of the faded seaside resort that is set for redevelopment of its seafront and pier. “The hotel is a brave, bold move for Southend-on-Sea,” says Jonathan Peters, who manages the restaurant alongside food and beverage manager Stéphane Belot. “There’s nothing like it in the area. With Aurum, it is changing the image of Southend but taking inspiration from nostalgia about the town, bringing back some of the glamour of the past.”
Aurum Restaurant & Bar, The Seven Hotel, 7 Clifton Terrace, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1DT
Tel: 01702 900 010
Behind the scenes
Interior design: Tibbatts Abel
Main contractor: GM Decorating
Bespoke lighting: Leme Lighting
Soft furnishings: DJM Designs
Tiling: Ceramic Solutions UK, Grespania
Wallpaper: Arte, Tektura, Vescom, Newmor Wallcoverings
M&E: Total Electrical
Originally published in the March 2018 print edition of Bar magazine.