Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Citizen M Tower of London

24 Sep 2016 by Michelle Harbi
Citizen M Tower of London lobby

BACKGROUND

Dutch “affordable luxury” brand Citizen M opened its second London property in July. It has since added a third in Shoreditch. The first to open was in Bankside, reviewed here.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

This is Citizen M’s largest hotel so far, with 370 rooms. Like the others, it’s a modular build, with the rooms assembled offsite in their entirety (in Poland), then “stacked” on top of the traditionally constructed ground-floor public space.

The public area is expansive, at 700 sqm, while at the top of the eight-floor property is a feature that really makes the most of the location – a double-height bar and meeting-room space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a wraparound terrace offering fantastic views of the Tower of London, the Thames, the Shard, the Gherkin and more.

As usual, the ground-floor area is broken up into various zones for checking in, relaxing, working and refuelling. It’s a good-looking, social space with colourful Vitra furniture (including Eames pieces), floor-to-ceiling shelving stocked with tongue-in-cheek London-themed memorabilia, long tables with power sockets, iMacs and printers, newspapers and magazines to flick through, and lounge areas with flatscreen TVs (the remote control left out for guests).

As well as the round-the-clock Canteen M and Bar M, there’s also Coffee M, new retail offering Collection M, and an outdoor terrace located at the back, next to part of the London Wall.

Julian Opie artwork in Citizen M Tower of London

On one side of the ground-floor area is an artwork by Julian Opie, and on the other an interactive digital installation by Dominic Harris. Suspended in the inner courtyard, viewable through the glass ceiling above the self check-in kiosks, is an ingenious installation by Dutch duo Studio Drift comprising numerous material-covered lamps that billow as they move up and down, jellyfish-style. It’s a good way of adding some interest to the view for those people staying in internal-aspect rooms.

The ten kiosks are quick and easy to use and there are plenty of helpful staff on hand, who work across all the areas of the floor.

WHERE IS IT?

Well located for the Square Mile, right above Tower Hill Underground station on Trinity Square ­– exit the station and the hotel entrance is to the right. Neighbouring Tower Gateway DLR station offers links to London City airport.

This isn’t the only new hotel launch for the square – Four Seasons London at Ten Trinity Square is due to open at the end of the year.

ROOMS

All rooms are the same, and the design has evolved since I stayed in one of the brand’s first properties, Citizen M Amsterdam City, in 2010, with improved bathroom, working and hanging facilities. Measuring 14 sqm and decked out in white and red, it’s fairly narrow with a comfortable wall-to-wall super-king bed under the window. Roughly 60 of the rooms have Tower of London views, although you can’t book this in advance ­– you will typically be able to choose from a few view options at the check-in kiosk depending on availability. Other rooms look internally or out at Trinity Square or to the rear of the property.

Citizen M Tower of London guestroom

An opaque closet on the left-hand side of the room contains a good rainshower and the toilet, which are separated by a white curtain, so there isn’t much privacy if you are travelling with someone. Another thin white curtain can be drawn to separate the bathroom and bed areas. Citizen M-branded body wash/shampoo is provided in dispensers (bring your own conditioner).

A vanity with sink and shelving is on the right-hand side. Free bottled water is provided in a mini fridge. There’s hanging space by the door together with a safe. Each floor has an ironing room. Room service is not offered.

A drawer under the bed pulls out to hold your case and there’s a slim workdesk next to the bed, with a media hub above it (containing UK, US and EU sockets and USB ports) and a red stool. A shelf on one wall above the bed contains the Samsung flatscreen TV, which shows a decent selection of free movies and can stream content from your mobile device.

Wifi is free, phone rates are similar to Skype and all the functionality of the room is controlled by tablet, including the blackout blinds, temperature, mood lighting and music (note: there is nothing remotely amorous about the “romance” preset). In all, the room is cleverly designed for a comfortable short stay. I had a restful night in my fifth-floor room, which had fantastic Tower of London views.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

Canteen M is open around the clock and serves a hot and cold breakfast buffet (£14 in advance, £16 on the day, and well stocked on the Sunday morning I was there). Snacks, salads and sushi are also on offer, plus a few hot options in the evening, in large pots for you to help yourself to. It’s a decent offering if you don’t want to dine solo in a restaurant.

The manned bar serves a good selection of spirits and draught beers, as well as freshly brewed coffee, while the street-facing Coffee M serves up hot drinks and pastries to guests and local workers.

On the top floor, accessed through a “10 Downing Street” black door, the Cloud M bar is a great space – expansive and airy, with a friendly bartender when we popped in on Saturday evening, although he didn’t have too much to do as it was very quiet – it’s open to guests only, and not many were taking the opportunity to avail of the amazing views.

Citizen M Tower of London's seventh-floor bar and terrace

MEETING FACILITIES

It’s unusual to find meeting rooms like these at the top of a property, offering such good views. There are eight in total, mostly set up in boardroom-style, and they are attractively designed, with various breakout areas, one including an Andy Warhol artwork of the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix. The whole meeting area can be hired for 150 guests for drinks. The ground-floor space has ample nooks for informal one-to-ones.

LEISURE FACILITIES

None, other than the Collection M selection of travel accessories, art, books, jewellery, watches and gifts on display in the lobby for purchase.

VERDICT

This is an excellent location for Citizen M to have secured, and the property itself is very impressive, with great social spaces and cleverly designed rooms at a good price point. On a livelier evening, the top-floor bar would be a lovely spot for a drink overlooking London’s landmarks.

PRICE

Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in October started from £169 (with 10 per cent off if you sign up to be a Citizen).

citizenm.com

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