Dutch brand Citizen M opened its first London property last July. Two more are due to open – in Tower Hill and St Paul’s – at the end of 2014, while Citizen M New York Times Square is set to open this autumn. The brand aims to offer “affordable luxury” – a quality boutique hotel stay at a reasonable price.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
I entered the lobby on a weekday evening to find a lively atmosphere, with crowds of local workers enjoying drinks. Instead of check-in desks there are touchscreen computers to check yourself in, and young, enthusiastic staff on hand to help. There was a homely feel to the large, open-plan lobby, lounge and bar as if I was visiting an arty friend’s luxury apartment. The Vitra furniture gave a smart, modern look, while the objects displayed on crisscrossing bookshelves created an individual look. The space was subtly divided into more intimate sections, each with differing furniture and ambience.
WHERE IS IT?
On Lavington Street, a ten-minute walk from Southwark Tube station, a 15-minute walk from London Bridge station and a short stroll from the South Bank.
Citizen M’s rooms are identical, built to spec off-site and slotted together. At 14 sqm, the size is fine for a one-night stopover, but would feel too small for an extended stay. The raised wall-to-wall bed with an extremely soft, comfortable mattress is more than two metres wide and dominates the space. The bathroom, which is only separated from the bedroom by a thin white curtain, is like an extended cylindrical pod. Inside is the toilet and an excellent rainshower (divided from one another by another thin white curtain), while the basin-cum-storage unit is outside. The shower space is roomy, though doesn’t offer the same privacy as a standard bathroom. Citizen M-branded shower gel and shampoo is provided in large, pump-top bottles.
The in-room technology is controlled by a Samsung tablet. I imagine most people would find it easy to use, but there are light and blind switches on the wall and a normal TV remote otherwise. The device controls the lighting, blinds, room temperature, the shower’s mood lighting, the flatscreen LG TV, and can also be used to access the internet free of charge (wifi is also free). There was a good selection of fairly recent films, which were free to watch. In terms of workspace, the desk beside the bed appeared small and the backless stool a little strange, but I found working comfortable – there was enough space to use a laptop and place a few objects, and above the desk were UK, EU and US plug sockets and a USB port. The phone charges VoIP rates. A laptop safe, coat hangers on a rail by the door (there is no wardrobe), tea and coffee facilities and a free bottle of water in an empty fridge are also provided.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Canteen M is the hotel’s 24-hour food station. Snacks such as sandwiches, sushi and salads are available, and a choice of two curries is served in the evening – for £15.95, you can help yourself to curry (delicious), rice, prawn crackers, a beer or glass of wine and a small tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. There is no main dining area – you can take your food to whichever part of the lounge you fancy or up to your room (there is no room service). A buffet breakfast of hot items and pastries with tea or coffee costs £10.95 in advance (£13.95 on the day).
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There are seven meeting rooms on the first floor, each with its own fun, creative design. The largest holds 24 theatre-style. The lounge has a work section with long tables, four Macs and a free printer.
None, but guests can use Bankside Health Club across the road for £7. Beside check-in is a Mendo bookstore selling coffee table-style tomes.
While not everyone will like Citizen M’s design concept, I found it an exciting hotel with a fantastic public area. The room is comfortable for a single night’s stay and ideal for avoiding paying for extras such as wifi and water.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 192, all identical.
- HIGHLIGHTS The buzzing lounge area, interesting meeting spaces and free films and wifi.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March started from £119.
- CONTACT 20 Lavington Street; tel +44 (0)20 3519 1680; citizenm.com