Home to Bethnal Green council’s HQ until 1993, the Town Hall Hotel and Apartments has undergone a big makeover to become one of east London’s trendiest residences. Located on Patriot Square, just off Cambridge Heath Road, it is five minutes’ walk from Bethnal Green tube station, convenient for access to the City and London City airport, or a short stroll from Cambridge Heath overground station. Liverpool Street is one stop on the tube.
A member of Design Hotels, it opened last spring, having restored the Edwardian stone façade and added uber-modern laser-cut metal cladding to two of its exterior walls. Inside, you’ll find works by local artists and junk-shop oddities such as an old barber’s chair.
There are 98 rooms starting from about 25 sqm, and ranging from doubles to two-bed apartments with kitchens. They pay homage to modernist fifties design, with original vintage furniture alongside newly commissioned pieces, and simple combinations of block colours. All this creates a warm, lived-in feel – and to accentuate this, a pair of goldfish can even be hired in return for a donation to charity.
Standard facilities include flatscreen TVs, CD/DVD players, iPod docks, a safe, robe, L’Occitane toiletries and free wifi. Most have either a combined tub and shower or a stand-alone shower. I stayed in an Executive one-bedroom apartment on the top floor, which had a bedroom, bathroom and a lounge with a kitchen area that could be screened from view with a sliding wooden door. This had plenty of pans and utensils, a coffee machine, hob, oven and dishwasher. The bed was comfy, with fresh white linen, and a table in the living room provided ample space to work.
Viajante bar and restaurant is accessed via the lobby or its own street entrance. The cocktail bar is stunning – when candle-lit at night, it feels like a prohibition-era speakeasy, with its dark furniture and gold paintings. Angular high-backed wooden chairs sit alongside low-backed benches, which are good looking but unfortunately quite uncomfortable. This is somewhere to pose with a cocktail, rather than relax with a beer. The restaurant across the hall has lighter décor and an open kitchen. It was full when I stayed so book ahead. Portuguese head chef Nuno Mendes serves exquisite creations such as shrimp and leek pot stickers with marinated cucumber and ponzu sauce (£7).
For meetings, the wood-panelled, art deco-inspired Council Chamber is still intact and features auditorium-style magisterial leather seating for up to 80 people. The Bethnal Hall divides into four and seats 188, while the De Montfort suite holds 60 theatre-style. There is a narrow 15-metre pool and gym.
VERDICT While its location is a little off the beaten track, it is well worth venturing east for this special property. Well thought-out apartments with free wifi make it a good choice if you’re in town for a few days.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in April started from £177 for a Double room.
CONTACT Patriot Square; tel +44 (0)20 7871 0460; townhallhotel.com