It’s all about location, location, location. We couldn’t think of a better one for the new flagship property from CitizenM, which opened in July across the street from the Tower of London. The result? Rooms with a killer view of the centuries-old fortress, made all the more incredible by the contemporary digs.
Like the brand’s Bankside and Shoreditch locations, the 370-room hotel has quirky British flair. Union Jacks, bulldog statues, and underground signs grace bookshelves, and the lounge is like a chic living room where you just want to hang out with a newspaper and a cup of coffee. (Seriously, we want the Vitra and Eames furniture.) You can even buy the display books, if you see one you like.
The property has what every modern hotel should aspire to: forward-thinking style, with a worthwhile bar, and a focus on technology. (There's an all-digital check-in system and iPad-controlled rooms). Better still, it's one of those rare central London hotels that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg -- and it's steps from a tube station.
We checked in, and here’s what we loved most.
The seventh floor CloudM bar is the spot to be at night, with its buzzy atmosphere and a view of the Tower of London. You can unwind here with inventive cocktails that might include spirits like jasmine-infused liqueur or chai tea-infused whisky.
Technology makes everything from check in to check out a breeze. We found check in at the computers to be user friendly, and we loved that there were no lines. Don’t worry if you’re technology-shy -- the staff is around to help if you can’t figure it out. Plus, all rooms are controlled by an iPad, called "the moodpad,” which allows you to choose lighting from a color wheel and offers an extensive list of complimentary movies and music, plus Apple TV.
The guest rooms are compact, but smartly designed. There’s a space for everything, including large storage drawers under the king bed, which, by the way, is outfitted with super soft Italian linen. There’s a minimalist, almost IKEA-like simplicity to the furniture, a rain shower in the bathroom, and several types of outlets: American, European, British, and USB. Tip: Ask for a room facing the Tower of London to get the best view. And if you need to block out all that persistent London sunshine, hit the bedside switch for blackout blinds.
At CanteenM, the 24/7 restaurant with an open kitchen, you can order coffee, pastries, and in the evening, everything from salads to hot dinner and cocktails. The breakfast buffet isn’t included, but for £13.95, you get a proper full English breakfast, complete with eggs, sausage, and bubble and squeak (pan-fried veggies). One caveat: There’s no room service.
First-time visitors to London will find there’s no better place to stay than by one of the city’s most popular attractions. Plus, the hotel is directly connected to a tube line that can easily transfer you to most places in the city. We can also imagine young, tech-savvy hipsters loving the gadgets, and those here on business can take advantage of the two-floor SocietyM, a creative environment with eight conference rooms.
If technology is not your friend, turning the TV on and off and dimming the lights with an iPad might seem more of a hassle than a bonus. And, if you prefer an ornate Victorian London hotel with spacious rooms and traditional service, you won't find it here.
CitizenM is directly above the Tower Hill tube station, and couldn't be more convenient for accessing the Tower of London (a two-minute walk), and nearby Tower Bridge, The Shard, and the Gherkin. It’s also a short 10- to 15-minute walk to the hip neighborhood of Shoreditch, where you’ll find a thriving bar scene (we like The Golden Heart). It’s also a short 10-minute walk to St. Catherine’s Dock, where there are plenty of good restaurants to choose from.
Right now, rooms start at $167 (£129) -- thanks, Brexit. If you sign up to become a “citizen” through the hotel’s website, you’ll get 10 percent off and free cancellation, plus a free drink on arrival.
If you take the tube to Tower Hill Station, all you need to do is look up; the exit is directly under the hotel, which is located just north of the Thames.