This Citizen M property opened in 2016
The brand has been successful in expanding, and now has 12 properties worldwide with the stated aim of having 40 either open or under construction by 2020.
What’s it like?
Very fashionable in an urban, trendy sort of way. This isn’t the sort of hotel you’ll find many ties in, and certainly on the Thursday night I was there, I was glad I changed out of my suit and had gone reasonably casual (you know, Chinos and a collared shirt). The entrance to the building has a small foyer and then you take either the lift or a circular stairway up to the first floor where reception and the bar and restaurant are.
The check-in is via computer terminals, though thankfully there was a receptionist there to guide me through the process. Actually, I think she could see I was going to be trouble because she pretty much did the whole thing for me. She gave me the option of a room on a higher floor, which I took, and I was glad of the view though I would have appreciated being told it was actually an accessible room.
Where is it?
On Holywell Lane, just off the Great Eastern Road, in painfully trendy Shoreditch. If you haven’t been there in a while (or ever) you should go just for anthropological reasons. For those of us who last spent any significant time there 25 years ago it’s an astonishing transformation. On the summer’s evening I was there thousands were spilling out of bars or packed into upmarket burger and pizza restaurants. It’s about a ten-minute walk away from Liverpool Street train and underground station, and close to Shoreditch Station, though this is only really useful if you are coming from the City.
The 216 rooms are all identical, or as the brand puts it, “Citizen M has no different types of rooms.” While this is broadly true, it certainly wasn’t the case in mine since the bathroom was designed to take a wheelchair and there was a red help pulley string by the side of the bed. I tested it and then reset it before anyone came to my help.
The bed takes up one end of the room, and the curtain and the black out blinds can be controlled both by a switch by the bed and also using the tablet which also controls the lighting and the television (and air conditioning, and everything else apart from the weather).
The tablet worked for me some of the time, and at others was almost completely unresponsive. In the morning the only way I could get the lights on was by pressing the one off button by the bed, which meant it was very bright instantly. Likewise with the blinds which I opened by the wall switch.
There is a large range of channels on the television, and also a good range of free films, including some fairly recent ones. You can also stream your device through the TV so you can watch your own content.
There’s a choice of showers in the bathroom – rainshower and power shower, as well as Citizen M toiletries on the wall – shower gel and shampoo combined. The bathroom I found difficult to use, but it was set up for disabled access, so I can’t comment on the other bathrooms.
The Vitra furniture in the room was white and red. There was a small desk with a red stool to sit on, and three powerpoint wall plugs, one UK, one EU and one US. I would have liked more power points, and one by the bed. The free wifi was fast and effective.
There were complimentary bottles water in the good sized fridge, which was otherwise empty – so no problem about storing your own drinks in there, then above that as a safe and then some hangers in an open wardrobe area. You could also hang your clothes on the wall close to the door.
The bed was large, firm and the room quiet – I had a good night’s sleep.
Food and drink
The bar and restaurant / cafe are on the first floor, and I have to say I was impressed not only by the design of the place but also the range of food and drink on offer. There’s a sort of open plan shop where you can buy snacks and canned drinks, but there’s also a central full bar serving everything from draft beers to mocktails.
There are long comfortable and well-lit tables where, in the evening, lots of solitary but young business traveller are working away on their macbooks, and there’s also lots of comfortable sofa seating and individual chairs, so you don’t have to socialise if you don’t want to. The whole area is lovely and spacious and there are floor to ceiling windows around the whole space, and even a balcony where you can go out and have a drink – it was open on this late August evening.
The choice of food and drink is salads, comfort food and mains , sandwiches and burgers and sharing plates. The Citizen M burger is £10, while a superfood salad comes in two sizes and prices, small £4.50 and large £8. Most main courses are around the £10 mark, an example would be chilli pulled beef tostada, or a classic fish finger sandwich (Panko-crusted hake goujons, homemade tartare, lemon, pickled cucumber, brioche bun, fennel salad (also available gluten free).
What’s great about the area (and the hotel) is that because the rooms are small, this is where people tend to hand out, whether they are eating or drinking or not, and so it’s sociable without being hectic, and it’s possible to chat with fellow guests without it seeming an odd thing to do (although, disclaimer, since I am, at a guess, at least 15 years older than everyone else in the hotel, or at least in the bar and cafe that evening, I didn’t talk with anyone, since that would have just been weird).
I didn’t eat in the evening, just had a drink, but I did take advantage of the breakfast the next morning (£13.95 in advance, £16.95 on the day) which was delicious, with a wide range of both hot and cold food, and lots of stuff I wouldn’t have normally tried (quinoa granola, for instance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds).
I also had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, two pieces of buttered toast, one with jam and a huge Danish pastry. I also had coffee, orange juice, yoghurt, red fruits, three other types of cereal and by the end was so confused I read a free copy of the Guardian.
I was too full to go back to my room, so checked out and then sat outside on a bench until I could recover, then went to Liverpool Street underground station.
Business / leisure facilities
There are guest use iMacs on the first floor, but this hotel doesn’t have any dedicated meeting rooms. Note also that there is no gym.
I was impressed by the hotel, slightly less so by my room, but then the nature of its accessible room obviously made it seem slightly less stylish (though very necessary, of course). The staff were friendly and helpful, and I would definitely return to this property and be tempted to try other ones as well.
Great choice of entertainment in the rooms and a lovely cafe and bar area on the first floor in the evening.
Relaxing in the evening in the bar – it’s here you get a sense of what the brand is, and why it;s so admired (and copied) by other hotel brands.
6 Holywell Lane, EC2A 3ET, London;