A member of the Unlisted Collection of boutique hotels – One Leicester Street and 196 Bishopsgate are also members – the five-star Town Hall hotel opened in 2010. Bethnal Green’s town hall originally opened in 1910, and it was extended in the 1930s, when its revered art deco interiors were added. The hotel uses these as the design inspiration for its guestrooms.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Simply stunning. Upon approaching the sprawling Edwardian building, I wondered whether I had got the right address, though there weren’t many other places it could have been just off Bethnal Green High Street. The lobby has the building’s original black marble column, central sweeping staircase, and signage used for council meetings.
At the base of the staircase is Tomorrowland by Kristian De La Riva, an art installation commissioned specially for the hotel opening. It consists of a 1950s TV set playing a series of hand drawn animations, each of them an imagining of an invention that people from 1939 would predict for 2039. Surrounding it are winged pieces of vintage furniture, coffee table books, and a beautiful black fantail fish in a round bowl – guests can hire him for the night for £10.
I did get lost a couple of times in the hotel, as the long corridors are hard to navigate. Service is professional and flexible.
WHERE IS IT?
A ten-minute walk from Bethnal Green Tube station (on the Central line), close to the Museum of Childhood. Liverpool Street station is a ten-minute drive away.
I stayed in an One-Bedroom suite on the second floor. It was a long, wooden floored space (rooms in this category are 32-36 sqm in size) with a lounge, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom area.
At one end of the room was a lounge with a burnt orange vintage sofa – authentic art deco furnishings ran throughout the space, with warm wood furniture, a sepia vintage colour scheme and angular ceiling panels. Upon the wall was framed photography of how the room looked before the renovation, a nice historical touch.
There was a small desk in the corner with an interesting designer lamp, and a small circular dining table. Both had plug sockets next to them. Concertina dividers pulled out to reveal a sleek, laminate grey kitchenette with a dishwasher, microwave, sink, oven, Musetti coffee machine, kettle, washing machine, fridge, toaster, cutlery and washing a cleaning products, along with pretty much any kitchen equipment you’d need to prepare a meal from scratch.
In the sleeping area, the white-sheet bed with a velvety headboard was extremely comfortable. There were power points and white fur rugs either side, plus a very small LG TV protruding from the wall opposite.
The lovely green marble bathroom was contained within a central white cube with sliding doors, with a Tetris-like pattern on the outside. L’Occitane toiletries were supplied in large bottles with pumps, and there was a shower over a free-standing oval bath – water from the showerhead had a good pressure, but took a little while to drain out of the bath.
Other amenities included free wifi, a laptop safe, free still and sparkling water, robes and an iPod dock. Overall, it was a really liveable space, with a clever use of design, combining vintage and modern touches.
Rooms range in size from entry-level Doubles (25-29 sqm) to the triple-height De Montfort suite, which is the largest suite in London at 219 sqm.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Breakfast is served in the Corner Room restaurant from 7.30am-10.30am – a small, sunny venue with an array of industrial lamps hanging from the ceiling and an artisan feel that makes it fit in with its East London surroundings.
The space seats 30, and the adjoining foyer (outside the Council Chamber) is used when more space is needed. The buffet had all the usual options, plus a number of sourdough breads and a tasty fruit salad made with redcurrants, nectarines and apples.
I dined again at the restaurant for lunch. It was extremely busy on the Saturday we were there, and even though I had a reservation, I had to wait for half an hour before I was seated (I was given a menu to read and seated in the foyer area while I waited).
I needed a little help deciphering the menu, which had ten or so dishes to choose from, and changes weekly. The confident waitress explained that the plates were designed for sharing, and were listed in order of size (small, medium large).
I started with the crispy pork skin and winter tomato (£6), which was like a giant pork scratching (it was larger than my hand, and left my fingers coated in grease) and was served with a delectable aioli sauce.
I then opted for a small plate of burrata with heritage tomatoes, lardo and basil (£10). The gooey, refreshing cheese contrasted with the red and yellow tangy baby tomatoes and the basil dressing. I also chose the option of Jersey royals with wild nettle puree, egg and ikura (£8) – this was delicious, with an impossibly bright orange yolk at the centre of the poached egg.
My companion went for the barbecue poussin with black pepper glaze and cauliflower (£12), a succulent, dainty portion of meat served with creamy cauliflower sauce. Overall, the food was colourful, fresh, inventive, and brilliantly seasoned.
A second restaurant, the Typing Room, opened this month (May).
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The Council Chamber is available to hire for events. Its fixed amphitheatre set-up would work well for meetings – with a capacity of 100 delegates, the original green leather seating complete with fold down desks would create a great atmosphere.
The De Montfort suite can also be hired for an event of 100 people, while the largest space is Bethnal Hall, which comprises four elegant interconnecting rooms that can host 200 for a reception.
The hotel offers a special wedding packages, which include a ceremony in the Council Chamber and a suite for the bride and groom.
The gym on the lower ground floor is open from 6am-12am. It’s small but impressive – I was told that it is the only gym in the UK to have Virtual Active Matrix gym equipment, which plays video footage of a range of scenery – from safari scenes to the Las Vegas strip – and recreates the feel of the terrain beneath their feet. The indoor pool was pleasant, with shimmering white mosaic pieces at its base and natural daylight streaming from an atrium.
An interesting hotel full of character, with attention to detail. It is luxurious in a modern sense, focusing on providing distinctive design features, high-quality food and a memorable experience.
- NUMBER OF ROOMS There are 97 rooms – ten Doubles, two Feature Doubles, 26 Executive suites, two Feature Executive suites, 28 One-Bedroom suites, 22 Executive One-Bedroom suites and seven Two-Bedroom suites.
- HIGHLIGHTS The quirky combination of Georgian and art deco design features, and the excellent food in the Corner room restaurant.
- PRICE Internet rates for a mid-week stay in June started from £219 for a Double room.
- CONTACT Town Hall hotel, Patriot Square, tel +44(0)20 7871 0460; townhallhotel.com