If you want a truly unique hotel experience then I think I’ve found just the hotel for you. There have been a recent crop of trendy hotels in the capital of late that are all amazing but have the same (and I hate this word) ‘hipster’ credentials. The CitizenM is all about great design, good service and a big dose of cutting-edge technology thrown in for good measure. I took my sister and my iPhone down to London’s chic Bankside to check it out.
What’s the vibe?
Cool, modern, European. The hotel lobby is one of the most serene and relaxed I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting – not in a way that’s boring at all, it was a delightfully relaxing experience. I checked in using the touch-screen stations, which on the day did actually have a technical glitch, so it took a while. I’m sure when they’re fully functional they’re a breeze to use and there was staff on hand to help me complete check in. There are things to look at everywhere in the CitzenM, bold and bright artworks on every spare inch of wall including a Mario Testino.
There are also lots of amazing coffee table books everywhere for guests to read, which was a treat, and there was the biggest collection of Penguin classics I’ve ever seen, which I think is a lovely touch. There’s a high-tech ‘cyber corner’ where guest can make use of top-of-the-range Mac computers. It’s hard to describe how stunning the lobby is, really, it’s wrapped around a glass, tree-filled central courtyard which is just so cool. I was suitably impressed.
What are the rooms like?
The rooms are white. Very white. The whitest rooms I’ve seen before or since. While the rest of the hotel is full of character the rooms are devoid of it… that is until you locate your room’s tablet controller. This gizmo is seriously impressive, you can; at the touch of a button (or two) completely change the mood of the room. Everything from the colour, to the lighting and temperature. There is a button for everything – the blinds, the TV, on-demand movies (free) and all the lights.
I spent the majority of my stay playing with this.There are pre-set ‘moods’ which are such a clever idea I like ‘relax’ and ‘romance’ even though, as I was staying with my sister, there was definitely no romance on the cards. A special mention to the shower which was EPIC, a two-foot, above-the head affair that I’d happily marry. Oh and the bed was super comfy and huge. The only criticism is that there was a lack of tea-making facilities, which for me is essential… but then I’m from Yorkshire.
What’s the food like?
I sat in the downstairs lobby twice, once for evening drinks with a friend, when I also had some cake and once for breakfast. I didn’t fully work out the system, but there’s a kind of buffet thing going on… In the evening I spotted pots of a delicious-smelling curry and naans and rice. Breakfast was full English with lots of pastries and fresh bread thrown in. It was a first-rate brekkie, I can tell you.
The hotel also had a healthy supply of Sunday papers, which made for a very civilised morning. I have to say having drinks with a friend in the evening was so nice, the music, lighting and sumptuous sofas made it feel like I was just at home. I even had slippers on I was that relaxed.
What is there to do in the area?
What isn’t there to do is the better question. It’s a stone’s throw from the world-famous Borough market which has every kind of food and drink under the sun and where I spent a pleasurable morning walking round, eating, and people watching. There are countless amazing cafes, restaurants and bars in the surrounding area, oh and the Cutty Sark is about ten minutes away.
I met a friend at Somerset House for an exhibition and it was only a 20 minute walk over Waterloo Bridge – by London standards that is verrrry good. It’s a nice walk too, especially in the evenings and you can see pretty much all of London’s landmarks from there – Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, MI5, The Eye.
CitizenM is also a 5 minute walk from the Tate Modern – it’s free, so go. Their permanent collections are unparalleled. There is a an excellent view of The Shard from the hotel too; I know it’s tall but you can’t see it from anywhere usually.
What’s the verdict?
I loved my stay here – I wish I could have extended it! CitizenM has all the cool-factor of many of London’s trendy boutique hotels but none of the pomp. The relaxed atmosphere and central location make ideal for culture vultures who want to enjoy the city by day and relax by night.
CitzenM Hotel 20 Lavington Street, London, United Kingdom SE1
With thanks to the CitizenM Bankside