Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Calico House

29 May 2009 by Sara Turner

Calico House, The Cheval GroupWHAT’S IT LIKE? Calico House is a serviced apartment property in the heart of the City of London, with studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Apart from a small reception area, there is nothing that would indicate it isn’t a standard residential block of apartments – perhaps a welcome change for business travellers who are tired of the same old hotel routine. Apartments come in different shapes and sizes, with the newest in Block A, which opened three years ago, but all offer a well-equipped kitchen, as well as a bedroom, a living area and a bathroom. Stays must be of seven nights or longer.

WHERE IS IT? Open since May 2001, Calico House is situated in a small courtyard just off Bow Lane, a narrow, pedestrian-only street connecting Cheapside and Watling Street. The apartments are within easy walking distance of several tube stops – Mansion House, Bank and St Paul’s. Cannon Street station, serving both the underground and national rail network, is also nearby.

ROOM FACILITIES All rooms have similar décor, facilities and a video-entry system, so you can buzz someone in without having to go outside. Studios have a combined living and sleeping area, some with a bed that drops down from the wall, allowing extra space during the day, while the two-bedroom penthouse apartments have a rooftop terrace with views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

I stayed in a one-bedroom apartment that had a separate living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, all leading off from the wood-floored entrance hall. To the left was the living room and kitchen, straight ahead was the bedroom, and to the right was the bathroom. A cupboard in the hallway stored an ironing board and iron, a vacuum cleaner, Calico House, The Cheval Groupand a handy telephone directory – useful if you want to order a takeaway or look up restaurants in the local area.

The kitchen had birch wood cupboards and black granite work surfaces, with a dishwasher, washer-dryer, microwave, gas hobs and electric oven, plus all the equipment I needed to cook myself dinner – I had visited the supermarket earlier for ingredients. There was also a welcome pack waiting for me, with tea, coffee, biscuits, cereal and jam, among other things.

The bedroom had a beige carpet and a white, built-in wardrobe, plus a trouser press, television, phone and hairdryer. The bed had a wooden headboard and brown and beige striped bedding. The bathroom had a light beige tiled floor, a heated towel rail and a combined bath and shower. Molton Brown toiletries and bathrobes were provided.

The living room had large windows, which made the apartment feel light and airy, a comfy sofa, a dining table and chairs, an armchair and a 32-inch flatscreen television. There was also a useful information pack with details on everything from restaurants to dentists.

Apartments are cleaned on weekdays but not at weekends unless requested.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS While Calico House doesn’t have any restaurants, Bow Lane has a number of possibilities to choose from, including Italian restaurant Zuccato and Japanese restaurant Tao. There are several supermarkets nearby – a Tesco Metro on Cheapside and a Marks and Spencer Simply Food at Cannon Street station.

Calico House, The Cheval GroupBUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are no dedicated meeting and business facilities, but the one-bedroom apartments do have a good-sized living area with a dining table and chairs, which could double as a meeting space. The studio apartments are a little small to be used in this way, however. The concierge is available at reception from 7am until 10pm (there is also 24-hour security and on-site management). Wifi internet access in the apartment costs £30 (plus VAT) for one week.

LEISURE FACILITIES There are no in-house leisure facilities, but several gyms operate in the area, such as Virgin Active Bank and the LA Fitness London Wall. Attractions within walking distance include St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern art gallery.

VERDICT A well-located alternative to the traditional hotel, Calico House is also good for the budget conscious who need to stay in London for more than a week.

Fact file

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 45 apartments, including two, two-bedroom penthouse residences.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The large amount of space and the kitchen.

PRICE A studio apartment starts from £950 per week, while a one-bedroom apartment starts from £1,080 for seven nights.

CONTACT Calico House, 42 Bow Lane, London; +44 (0)20 7489 2500;

Sara Turner

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