Marriott West India Quay
22 Hertsmere Road; tel +44 (0)20 7093 1000;

There are over 90,000 people working in Canary Wharf, and the Marriott is well placed to serve them, located just around the corner from West India Quay DLR station and five minutes’ walk from Canary Wharf underground station. The hotel occupies the first eight floors of a 32-storey curved-glass building, while floors 9-12 house Marriott’s 47 executive (serviced) apartments and a further 158 private residential apartments have the rest.

The hotel has 301 rooms (12 with disabled access), with room categories dividing into 197 deluxe, 82 executive, seven Curve Suites, seven Studio Suites and eight Executive Suites. At the moment you can access the room floors without a key card, but this is due to change in the near future.
All rooms have tea and coffee-making facilities, laptop safe, minibar, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, and wired internet access (wifi in public spaces), both charged at £6 per hour (£15 for 24 hours). Views from the rooms range from the quay to surrounding buildings, with cafés and bars below. Deluxe and executive rooms are the same size; the difference comes with access to the executive lounge.

The curved nature of the building means that the seven Curve suites are shaped like smooth shards of glass, with windows on each side making the most of views over the water. The living rooms of the suites have dining tables, two sofas, a minibar and television. In the bathroom there are Molton Brown toiletries and a separate shower and bath. The bed had an excessive (but much-appreciated) six pillows and beautiful big white duvet. Guests are encouraged to be “eco-friendly” by leaving a card on the bed to stop the sheets being changed every day and to hang towels up if they do not need to be laundered.

If you are in an executive room or above you have access to the executive lounge on the seventh floor. Breakfast is served here from 6.15am until 10.30am during the week and 7am until 11.30am at weekends. The Curve restaurant (see our review from February 2007 online at was busy at breakfast so I chose to eat in the lounge. Although you can’t order à la carte, there are cereals, yoghurts and fruit, cold meats and cheese, and also sausages, bacon and scrambled eggs. Canapés are served between 5.30pm and 7.30pm and complimentary beer and wine between 6pm and 7pm each evening.

Marriott has dedicated conference staff to help with meetings and there are 14 rooms to choose from, as well as a ballroom which can be divided into three and holds around 160 for a sit-down meal. The break-out area is on a mezzanine level over the lobby. There’s also a 24-hour business centre with four computers and it’s right next to the hub of the Marriott “At Your Service” centre, with a member of staff on duty 24 hours to answer any guest queries.

On the ground floor there is a small windowless gym, with large stylish changing rooms with saunas. The spa has two treatment rooms and the hotel works with Cellular Health, a couple who offer advice on lifestyle, nutrition and exercise at a bespoke level. In the evening I sat outside on the busy terrace at the Manhattan bar, next to the Curve Restaurant. Snacks start from £4.50; the platter I had included barbecue chicken and prawns, and cost £11. Both the bar and restaurant are popular with local workers as well as guests.

PRICES Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £351 for an executive room.

46 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf; tel +44 (0)20 7510 1999;

One of the first hotels to open in Docklands (in 1999), the Four Seasons has seen the area change beyond recognition in the past eight years. Each year it has faced more competition, with Hilton and Marriott both entering the market, and Radisson Edwardian set to follow suit in September; but there’s no doubt that the Four Seasons brand commands a premium on the rates of those hotels, with its 220 staff giving an admirable 1.5:1 guest ratio.

Not surprisingly, much of its weekday business comes from the surrounding banks (CSFB, Morgan Stanley) and law firms (Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy) as well as big corporates such as BP and Reuters, with the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) just across the road. The hotel offers complimentary chauffeur-drive to guests who want a lift to work in the Canary Wharf area, in a long-wheelbase branded Jaguar. (The recent reopening of the O2 – formerly known as the Dome – has made a big difference to the more difficult weekend business.)

The 142 rooms and suites are on floors 2-8 (the first floor is the banqueting area). The entry-level standard room is 37 sqm with Canary Wharf views. River views are worth paying a little more for, though – the hotel is positioned on a bend of the Thames and has spectacular views upstream towards the City of London. All rooms have large rectangular windows with window seats, a nice touch allowing you to relax while enjoying the view. The rooms are traditional, with black American walnut finishing, friezes above the bed, and distinctive Four Seasons touches such as the nightlights.

The bathrooms have limestone flooring with some attractive glass tiles, and all rooms have separate shower and bath, L’Occitane bathroom products, complimentary shoe shine and morning paper. The hotel is due to be refurbished during 2008, with iPod docking stations and new flatscreen TVs on the menu. Wifi and broadband access is £15 per hour.

There’s a fair-sized fitness centre on the second floor of the hotel, but make use of the arrangement with the Virgin Active gym in the grounds, which has three floors of fitness facilities and one of the most outstanding swimming pools in London, an indoor infinity affair open from 0600-2200. Underneath, there is also a full-size Re-Aqua spa, as well as vitality pools, sauna and exercise studios.

On the top floor of this building is the Ubon sushi restaurant (from the same chain as Nobu), where you can sign the cheque to your room in the hotel. The 100-cover Quadrato restaurant serves high-level Northern Italian cuisine with weekly menus (Sardinian, the week we were there). Menu examples: a starter of grilled tiger prawns, French bean and artichoke salad with orange Hollandaise sauce (£16), followed by seared fillet of halibut with turnip and beetroot, horseradish crushed potato and green pea coulis (£29). It is expensive, but excellent (in summer outdoor seating is available on the terrace).

For meetings, the ballroom can host 200-theatre style, although the majority of rooms have capacities around the 50 mark.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £411.

265 Rotherhithe Street; tel +44 (0)20 7231 1001;

This low-rise waterfront property is one of the best-value options in Docklands, thanks to its unfashionable location in the Surrey Quays development across the river from Canary Wharf. However, it is easily accessible from both central London and the Isle of Dogs, thanks to a shuttlebus from Canada Water tube station (Jubilee Line – follow the signs for “buses” and go to Zone C) – and a regular watertaxi service to Canary Wharf which leaves from the pier in front of the hotel until late at night.

The hotel consists of a 19th-century warehouse and a pair of six-storey new-builds, set around two small docks (most of the 356 rooms look out on to water). Rooms in the new buildings all have floor-to-ceiling windows (some with balconies), and have had a recent refurb to give them a clean, modern feel, while those in the original warehouse are more traditional, with exposed brickwork and darker décor. Deluxe rooms in the top of the new buildings have fabulous views across the city and central London; those in the old block all have full river views but smaller windows.

The Terrace Restaurant and Lounge Bar are both in the original building and look across to Canary Wharf; the former is the venue for all meals, including a sustaining buffet supper (£23), while the latter has an extensive riverside terrace area (which can make life noisy for guests in the old block).

There is a small business centre in the lobby area with two computers, and an extensive meetings suite in the warehouse block, which includes the London Room (up to 350 theatre-style), a dedicated support centre (open 8am-6pm) and a break-out coffee area. Free parking for up to 120 cars is available on site. Fitness facilities are in the adjacent Living Well gym, including basic cardiovascular machines and a small pool, but with miles of riverside paths in the vicinity it would be a shame to stay indoors.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £136.

163 Marsh Wall; tel +44 (0)845 838 1010;

A local landmark, the Britannia International has 442 air-conditioned rooms with double rooms as standard, the majority of which host zip and link beds. Rooms on the upper floors have good views of the Thames and the London skyline.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £75.

South Quay, Marsh Wall; tel +44 (0)20 3002 2300;

Open since June 2006, this is a new Hilton hotel in every sense, with a modern feel to both the bedrooms and the public areas. Located right next to South Quay DLR station, or a five-minute walk over the footbridge from Canary Wharf, its main competition locally comes from the Marriott West India Quay and the Four Seasons. As with both those hotels, the general shortage of rooms in the area Monday through Thursday means rates are not significantly discounted from central London properties, but there are some real bargains to be had at the weekend.

The hotel has a large set of meeting facilities which are heavily used by local companies for everything from training to graduate recruitment and interviews. The meeting facilities are all on one floor, with the largest room (the Quayside Suite) taking 400 theatre-style or 280 for a dinner dance, and a series of smaller meeting rooms being able to be combined for up to 150.

On the ground floor, the Cinnamon restaurant and bar (130 covers) is decorated in green-glass and mahogany, and on Thursdays there is a DJ and music.

The 283 rooms all have flatscreen TVs, Crabtree & Evelyn bathroom toiletries, weighing scales, laptop safes, iron and ironing boards, minibar and air-conditioning, and in standard rooms the bath and shower are combined. Wifi access in the public areas is with BTOpenzone, while wired access in the rooms is with iBahn (£15 for 24 hours). In addition, there are 24 Junior suites, which have access to the Executive Floor, as do the 56 Executive rooms (on floors 12-14). This is located on the 14th floor, and has great views of the Thames and the West End. It is an airy but comfortable space, with two computer terminals with complimentary internet access, and a printer which can be connected to laptops.

The gym is on the second floor and is a good size, and I was impressed that, in response to an inquiry about jogging routes, a map was pushed under my door that evening (I was out), showing me an ideal route around the Isle of Dogs. There is parking capacity for 30 cars (charged at £15 for 24 hours).

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £243.46.


5 Fairmont Avenue, New Providence Wharf; tel +44 (0)20 7987 2050;

The £40 million five-star Radisson Edwardian is due to open on September 10. Across the road from Blackwall DLR station and walkable from Canary Wharf, it is located opposite the O2 centre, with fantastic views down the Thames to Greenwich. The eight-storey hotel is joined to Ontario Tower, a 30-storey block with 700 luxury apartments, also housing the hotel’s East River Spa and gym.

We took a hard-hat tour of the property in August. The entrance is lined with fountains, with a glass atrium lobby which is actually flat but, thanks to a clever optical illusion, appears to be at an angle. There are 169 rooms in four categories: 124 superior (starting at 27 sqm), 28 deluxe rooms (35-50 sqm), 16 one-bedroom suites (57 sqm) and one penthouse apartment.

All rooms have cream and brown décor with unique pieces of art; some have cork floors, others carpets, and all have king-sized beds, triple-glazing, and the Radisson-wide free wifi connection. Special features include sockets for MP3 players, iPods and US plugs, and Bang & Olufsen Beovision televisions, which adjust according to the brightness in the room. The bathrooms are wet rooms with walk-in rain showers, separate baths and square sinks.

There is a mezzanine level overlooking the lobby for conference breakouts from the meetings rooms, and the restaurant Azura, which will serve modern British fare, has a pretty terrace on the riverside.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £282.


1 Baffin Way, off Preston’s Road; tel +44 (0)20 7517 1100;

Just around the corner and under the flyover from Blackwall DLR station, this eight-year-old hotel with four floors and 87 rooms looks a little lost amidst the busy roads and huge buildings beyond. It was refurbished last September, so that half of the hotel now has the new-generation Ibis rooms, and the bar and business area will be the next part of the hotel to undergo an update (work starts this month). At the moment key hotels in the budget chain are having the room updates, including airport hotels, and the product will be rolled out across the whole brand over the next few years.

The reception and bar are open-plan, with pop videos playing on a flatscreen TVs. The bar/restaurant area is small – continental breakfast is served here from 4.30am-12pm, and there are 24-hour snacks available at the bar, with a full menu from 6-10pm serving grilled options and pasta dishes. As there is no room service, Ibis offers guests a pizza deal whereby you can order the pizza from the restaurant and pick it up from reception in a box. All Ibis hotels have a 15-minute satisfaction guarantee, so if you are not served in that time they will pick up the bill.

New Ibis rooms feature wooden floors instead of carpets, blinds instead of curtains, duvets instead of blankets, and flatscreen TVs. They are much more stylish and modern than the old rooms, which look dated in comparison. All rooms in this Docklands property have double-glazing and I could not hear the busy road or DLR.

On the ground floor there are 15 twin rooms with sofa beds and the hotel also has six rooms adapted for disabled access. Currently there are six smoking rooms but these may be phased out over the next three years. Usefully, there is an ironing room, which is open 24 hours. There are no meeting facilities in the hotel but there is talk of a possible extension into the car park over the next few years.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £89.


Silvertown Way, Silvertown; tel +44 (0)20 7540 4040;

This is a large silver and blue building on Silvertown Way, a busy road which runs alongside the DLR – the closest station is Canning Town, a five-minute walk away (good for both DLR and Jubilee underground line).

Reception is a large open-plan space joined to the bar area, with red and blue chairs, tall green plants and a large flatscreen television. There was a murmur of pop music when I entered, but it is open until 2am and gets busy at weekends.

Built seven years ago, the hotel had 48 new rooms added last year, bringing the total to 136. All rooms have the same facilities (although there are some twin rooms and half of the first floor are smoking rooms), and are adequately sound-proofed. The décor is simple red and blue, and rooms feature tea and coffee-making facilities, telephone, Sky TV and pay movies, air-conditioning, and a small white shower room with soap and shower gel dispensers. There is wifi throughout the hotel (£3 for 30 minutes, £5 for one hour, £15 for 24 hours).

The hotel does not have a fully serviced restaurant but there is a bar snack menu, which includes lasagne and barbecue chicken, and continental breakfast (included in the room rate) is served from 6.30-10am Monday-Friday and 7-11am at weekends.

For meetings, the extension has created space for a large conference room for 70 people reception-style just off the restaurant, with a room divider and a separate entrance. There are also four other meeting rooms, all with natural daylight, and a business area in the corridor with a computer and printing and fax facilities. At present, parking is free for guests.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £59.


Royal Victoria Dock



Western Gateway; tel +44 (0)870 990 9692;

This four-star deluxe property was originally a Holiday Inn, but was upgraded to a Crowne Plaza within six months of opening in 2003. Best accessed from Royal Victoria Dock DLR station, it has 210 rooms on floors 2-6 in four configurations: standard, superior, junior suites and executive suites (smoking rooms on the sixth floor).

All bedrooms are a good size, but the best views are from rooms looking out onto Royal Victoria Dock. Since the building is L-shaped, you are best asking for an even number (for example, 5020) but specify the view, since you may turn the corner of the L-shape and end up looking at the new apartments being thrown up next door.

For all of these hotels in Royal Victoria Dock, aircraft noise is a factor, but the Crowne Plaza suffers less, being the furthest away from the airport and at an oblique angle – it also has very effective double-glazing. Flying times for the planes is between 6.30am-10pm.

All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, tea and coffee-making facilities, broadband access (£15 for 24 hours), bath robes, iron and ironing board and good toiletries (Molton Brown in Superior and above). Laptop safes are gradually being introduced, but are currently only available in Superior and above. All rooms have a shower over the bath, and Junior Suites and above have separate showers.

The hotel has a fair-sized gym – the Quad Club – with 480 private members, and a swimming pool and sauna. On the ground floor are the Isle Bar and 120-cover Terra restaurant, which also has room for private dining for up to 40 (main courses £12.50-£19.50). The food here is affordable and of good quality, and the breakfast buffet extremely impressive.

Negatives on our stay were a too-soft bed, a bath that took 23 minutes to fill, a lack of wifi in the rooms (being remedied next year), and reception does rather have the air and smell, of the entrance to a swimming pool, which it is, since guests for the health club enter and exit this way as well.

There are nine meeting rooms and a large breakout area on the first floor, with direct access down to reception. Car parking is £14.50 for 24 hours, and there are 70 spaces.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £145.


Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock; tel +44 (0)20 7540 9700;

Both the Novotel and its sister Ibis property are in the same building a few hundred metres east from the Crowne Plaza, almost equidistant between Royal Victoria Dock and Custom House stations on the DLR.

Reception for the Novotel is on the first floor to make room for two storeys of car parking underneath (76 spaces in total). The reception desk is to the right, and there is an area to plug in computers and make use of the hotel-wide wifi (£15.99 for 24 hours) in front of a large flatscreen TV. The bar area is to the left, and this last is popular, not least since it has a real sense of security having no street entrance.

The Upper Deck Restaurant is also on this level, with an outside decking area and a riverine theme (colourful rowing oars on the walls). There’s an à la carte menu, and also buffet dinners for £20 for three courses, and a good wine list. In the mornings there is a buffet breakfast, along with information on the calorie count for most items, allowing you to see just how much damage the fry-up will do to your day.

This is a New Generation Novotel, which has moved the brand from three to four stars, and the facilities are impressive. The 257 contemporary Novation rooms (including seven suites) are spacious and have separate shower and baths, with toilets in a separate cubicle. All have broadband, (£15.99 for 24 hours, or £18.99 to include pay-for films – flatscreen 23-inch TVs are being installed with the option of plugging in MP3 players for playing through this system), tea and coffee-making facilities, iron and trouser press, minibar, hairdryer, laptop-sized safe, and air-conditioning. It’s a well-designed room, with a vanity mirror under the desk.

The hotel’s windows are double-glazed, but you can clearly hear planes landing and taking off and also night noise outside, amplified by the lack of green spaces and the surrounding buildings.

There are 13 meeting rooms, all with natural daylight, and the hotel is popular with corporate clients, particularly Barclays, HSBC and Credit Suisse, who take advantage of the competitive rates and the fact that a complimentary shuttle takes them to Canary Wharf and picks them up in the evening (runs 7-9am and 4.30-7pm). It is also a regular stopover for flight crews from Swiss, Air France and Netjets.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £112.


9 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Docks; tel +44 (0)20 7055 2300;

This two-star hotel has a fantastic position on the waterfront as part of the same development, indeed the same building, as its fellow Accor property, the four-star Novotel. It overlooks the Royal Victoria Docks, with the original dockland cranes, now at peace apart from the planes taking off from London City Airport. Both hotels, along with the Crowne Plaza, are a three-minute walk from Excel.

Business Traveller last reviewed this hotel back in October 2005 and since then the bar and restaurant areas have been refurbished. When I entered, the sun had painted warm golden stripes through the blinds across the spacious reception area and bar. The large restaurant runs along the waterfront and was busy in the morning with a queue for the continental breakfast of pastries, cereals and different breads (this is served from 4am for guests catching early flights).

The 278 rooms (including 15 rooms with disabled access) are the old Ibis room style (apricot and green décor with TV, curtains and bedspread). My room was on the sixth floor (out of eight) with a superb view over the water. The pod-like bathroom was spotless and the shower very powerful. There were tea and coffee-making facilities, and other amenities such as a hairdryer or safe can be requested at reception (ironing rooms are located on floors two and six).

I was surprised to be able to hear planes passing overhead through the double-glazed windows – but they do not fly overnight so it was not a problem with sleeping. More of an issue was a group of merry youths I could hear down on the waterfront until about 3am. I also had to turn the air-conditioning off in the middle of the night because I found it too noisy.

There are no meeting rooms at the hotel, but there is wireless internet connection throughout (e20 for 24 hours or e10 for two hours’ worth of access through Orange) and reception can deal with faxes and printing. There is also private undercover parking for £12 a night.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £75.


Royal Victoria Dock; tel +44 (0)870 238 3322;

This budget brand has been implementing a gradual overhaul of its product over the past couple of years and, if this bright and cheery 202-room offering is anything to go by, the results are impressive. All rooms now have blackout curtains, a good-sized work desk, tea and coffee facilities, bathroom with power shower and shower gel/shampoo dispenser, and a comfortable bed with spotless white linen and a fluffy duvet.

Lifts are accessible by keycard, as are the customer services rooms on each floor, which have a selection of large ironing boards (irons are available from reception, as are toiletries and umbrellas). The chain has also implemented a “female-friendly” policy – single women are given rooms on higher floors if possible, reception staff are trained not to disclose room numbers, and shower curtains are left open.

The latest innovation is the all-you-can-eat breakfast (£7.50), including a great selection of healthy options as well as the full English, which now has improved sausages, eggs to order and porridge on request. (Those in a hurry can opt for the £2.95 “grab-and-go”.) Breakfast is served until 10am, after which the “lounge menu” (jacket potatoes, sandwiches, pizzas, salads) is available until the bar closes at 1am. (There is also an extensive dinner menu.)

Wifi is available throughout the hotel (£3 for two hours, £10 for 24 hours), and there is also a computer in the lobby which can be used for internet access (25p a minute). There is one meeting room, which can hold up to 13 people, and the hotel can provide working lunches, afternoon teas or “power breaks” – Red Bull and chocolate or Actimel and cereal bars, according to taste.

Aircraft noise throughout the hotel is minimal considering the proximity to the airport, but if you don’t wake up well-rested, Premier promises to refund your money under its “Good Night Guarantee”.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £80.


Excel, Royal Victoria Dock; tel +44 (0)20 7059 9100;

Sitting on the Royal Victoria Dock at the east end of Excel, the Sunborn was designed in Germany in the 1990s and opened as a hotel in Finland in 1998. In 2002, it was shipped to London (it isn’t sea-worthy) to help out with a room shortage at Excel, and is now a permanent fixture.

Inside, the lavish use of shiny wood, mirrors and polished brass gives a bright and nautical feel. There are 100 rooms and two Royal Suites, both of which come with a huge area of private deck space and a sauna. Half the rooms have balconies, while the other half have bigger living areas and large portholes, and all have plenty of natural light, particularly on the dock side.

All are fitted with six-foot beds (which can be divided into two singles), cafetiere, minibar, Playstation, safe, ironing equipment, trouser press, hairdryer and shower-only bathrooms. Internet access is complimentary throughout (wifi in balcony rooms, wired in non-balcony rooms) and room service is available 24 hours. Sadly, there are no exercise facilities; however, the Fifth Deck restaurant (fine dining) and Yacht Club bar (drinks and snacks) are both pleasant spaces for relaxing, although the food is on the pricey side.

The Sunborn is well-equipped with meeting rooms. There are two conference rooms on the fourth floor, both with private decks and plenty of natural light, which can be joined to hold up to 80 theatre-style. The third floor houses the Captain’s Club, an intimate space with grey leather armchairs, a private bar and a huge deck (up to 100 for a reception), while the lower bow of the ship is taken up with an elegant 34-seater auditorium with AV equipment.

The hotel is a three-minute walk across the car park from Prince Regent DLR and less than a mile to London City airport, and despite being almost directly under the flightpath is relatively quiet.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £89.


Excel, 2 Festoon Way; tel +44 (0)870 111 8779,

Despite its name, the Ramada is at the far end of the Royal Victoria Dock, beyond Excel and the Sunborn Yacht. Built in 2003, it has 71 guest suites and 153 standard rooms. The airy, window-filled Waterfront Brasserie has both indoor and outdoor seating, and there is 24-hour room service. Wifi is available throughout the hotel (£12 for 24 hours). Room décor is on the traditional side, with and gold accents and dark wood furniture, and despite the age of the hotel is already starting to look rather worn. Standard rooms have a small sofa-bed, tea and coffee-making facilities, air conditioning, work-desk, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river, and a bathroom with walk-in power shower and Neutrogena toiletries.

The hotel’s spacious suites are designed for longer stays and have bath/power shower combination units, televisions in both the lounge and bedroom, a double sofa bed in the lounge, an equipped kitchenette and direct phone line.

Other facilities include a tiny gym, with a couple of cardiovascular machines, and two meeting rooms holding up to 30, with broadband video conferencing and computer networking capability.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £99.


Hartmann Road, Silvertown; tel +44 (0)871 984 6290,

The closest hotel to City Airport is a cream and red brick block, with a bright reception and lobby. There is a bar and restaurant area, which serves traditional fare such as fish and chips and burgers.There is no room service and breakfast is a buffet for £6.50.

The 157 rooms are plain with pale walls, checked bedspread and sofa-bed, with a TV, long desk area and mirror as well as wardrobe space. Double-glazing was effective and I could not hear the planes taking off, but the rooms are climate-controlled rather than air-conditioned and I was so hot I had to open the window. The bathroom is small with blue and white tiles and bath and shower in one.

Wifi access is available for those with laptops but there is no wired internet access in the hotel and no telephones or minibars in the rooms, although tea and coffee-making facilities are provided. The 160 parking spaces are charged at £5 per night.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in September started at £49.

Unless otherwise stated, all prices are for a standard double, room-only.