Case Study

A Musical Journey: the Nobu Bar at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

We recently curated a bespoke set of playlists for Nobu Hotel London Portman Square's new Nobu Bar concept inspired by chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s travels around the world.

The Concept

Developed with the help of The Herball (concept & drinks), Light & Motion (menu and design), and Margaux Carpentier (illustrations), the new concept for the Nobu Bar at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square is based on rituals that incorporate the early history of chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa on his way to success.

The experience is deeply inspired by the chef’s travels and experiences, with guests being taken on a journey from his birthplace of Saitama, Japan, to Peru, then Argentina, back to Japan again, on to Alaska and finally to Los Angeles.


Infused with a dynamic range of spirits, plants, teas, flavours, aromas and textures with, without and low alcohol, the drink menu was curated to authentically engage guests with Nobu's journey while being executed with Japanese precision and finesse, combined with Latin flair and fire.

The Music Brief

When it came to developing the musical identity for this new bar concept, we knew the track selection had to immerse the guests into this journey across the world.

How could we authentically convey the unique traveller spirit with music?

Leo Lait, Music Lead for Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, commented:

"In developing this new music concept for the Nobu Bar at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, we have looked to create an engaging and evocative sound inspired by Nobyuki Matsushisa’s travels."

The playlists seek to join the musical dots between these places and cultures, whilst simultaneously creating a vibrant, fun and uplifting soundtrack to guests’ evenings in the bar.

We dived deep into authentic classic and contemporary Japanese and Latin music, exploring moments of cross-pollination between these cultures, through Japanese Cumbia from artists like Minyo Crusaders and Mumbia Y Sus Candelosos.


Overall, we relied on an upbeat and groove-led selection that would use positive melodies to create a feel-good atmosphere. Whilst the tracks may not be highly recognisable, we used accessible melodies and rhythms to keep the audience engaged.

Japanese funk, disco, electronica and ‘City Pop’ sit alongside electro-Cumbia, Latin funk, soul, salsa, and tropical electronic sounds. As the evening progresses, the music becomes more upbeat and consistent in terms of energy and styles, with a focus on house, disco and edits with organic influences, continuing to reference Japan and South and Central America through vocals, melodies, and rhythms.

Get down to the Nobu Bar at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square to experience Nobyuki Matsushisa’s life-changing journey.

Photography courtesy of Nobu.

Credits: Cocktails Shots - Lateef Okunnu ( Bar Interiors - Jack Hardy (@jackhardyphoto)

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