Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Montcalm East, London

30 Apr 2022 by Hannah Brandler
Montcalm East

Background

Formerly M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech, the hotel rebranded under Marriott’s upscale Autograph Collection in October 2021 following a refurbishment.

At the same time it was renamed Montcalm East, and as with the rest of the Autograph Collection, it reflects its neighbourhood in its design and offerings.

Where is it?

The futuristic diamond-shaped building is located on City Road, facing Moorfields Eye Hospital. It’s situated a three-minute walk to Old Street station and close to the cluster of tech companies at Silicon Roundabout.

There are two entrances – the one on City Road takes you into the lobby, while Provost Street leads into Moor and Mead restaurant and bar.

It doesn’t matter which entrance you use as the ground floor is open-plan, with the bar and lounge curving into the lobby area. I entered via the Provost Street entrance, which provided a great introduction to the décor by Shoreditch-based design firm Blacksheep.

Montcalm East. Credit Matthew Shaw

What's it like?

It’s a highly artistic space and feels like a photo gallery in addition to a hotel. The property has partnered with Proud Galleries to feature a rotating exhibition of prints by renowned British photographers, each labelled with a QR code so you can learn more about the artworks, making for a really interesting stay.

It also has its very own studio space with a residence programme in partnership with Ravensbourne University.

The entire ground floor is bathed in natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass windows, with the light bouncing off the industrial fittings, copper accents and bottles behind the bar.

Montcalm East lobby

Beyond the bar lies a library area, featuring a brass bookcase spanning the length of one of the walls filled with fashion, art and photography books.

An illuminated curved wooden archway is a great segue into the lobby area, and was popular with people taking photos (presumably for Instagram). A black-and-white video projection of E1 by Acrylicize behind the reception desks makes check-in a far more interesting experience – it’s nice to have something to watch as the admin gets sorted.

Check-in is from 1500 and staff member Asma was very kind, offering a late checkout (it’s normally 1200) so that I could work from the building the following day.

Montcalm East bedroom. Nicholas Worley

Rooms

The hotel has 288 rooms across eight categories on levels 3-17, ranging from 25 to 50 sqm, with Sky High rooms and suites on the top two floors – these have views of the city and are recommended.

The rooms feature contemporary furnishings, shiny black fittings and a seemingly high-tech lighting system, though the latter could be confusing.

Beside the bed and bathroom are buttons for mood lighting, a desk light, night light and a master light but occasionally I would click the master light and it wouldn’t work – I ended up trialling a combination to get the right lighting. The automatic curtains, however, work well and offer a picturesque view if you’re on the higher floors.

Bathrooms are bright and have the luxury of underfloor heating as well as ethical amenities such as bamboo toothbrushes, Co Bigelow Apothecary body lotion and soap, and large bottles of Anatome shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in the spacious rain shower.

On the sustainable front, rooms also include a bottle of filtered water, which can be refilled at the still and sparkling water fountains on each corridor, and a bin with a recycling section.

Montcalm East room

The wardrobe features a safe, mini fridge, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, robes and slippers, and a Nespresso coffee machine. There are also local suppliers for tea and coffee – East London Tea Co. teabags and Flying Horse Coffee pods roasted in E8.

Rooms also feature 37-inch TVs with Sky programming, though it’s not immediately clear how to access this (you need to go onto HDMI) and the sound was a little muffled. There is fast free wifi throughout the hotel, with no password required.

My 25 sqm sky-high double room on the 16th floor was very comfortable and offered (almost) floor-to-ceiling views of the beautiful cityscape – the diagonal windows include artistic cut-outs which create a segmented view of the skyline.

From my window I could see into offices below and apartments to the right, so floors below   would face these. The downside of being on the higher floors is that it comes with a longer wait for the two lifts – only half of the lifts go to the top two floors.

Montcalm East room views

The desk area is cleverly designed with a storage area fixed to the wall above. The desk was fairly comfortable to work at, although I preferred the energy of the public spaces.

There is a USB and HDMI port as well as two sockets for charging your laptop. When I plugged out my charger, however, it pulled the socket out.

Artworks in the room include nods to the photo world, with film-style lighting, and Moorfields opposite, with cushions of a zoomed-in eye.

Unfortunately the room is not well soundproofed, and I could hear the water pipes from other rooms as well as people walking along the corridor.

Montcalm East. Credit Matthew Shaw

Food and drink

The all-day dining venue Moor and Mead is from East London restaurant group Barworks and head chef Tom Ziehe, and pays homage to Moorfields Eye Hospital opposite and the neighbourhood’s breweries.

It’s a beautiful venue located across the ground and first floor, with an Art Deco-style winding brass staircase on the right of the hotel entrance leading up to a more private and restaurant-like area.

The ground floor has plush chairs and comfy sofas in dark blue tones and a bar which mirrors the staircase in its brass detailing. Both floors offer floor-to-ceiling glass windows, allowing guests to soak up the atmosphere of the bustling neighbourhood.

We chose to eat on the first floor beside the windows overlooking Moorfields Eye Hospital. The angular architecture creates distorted views of the cityscape, which is fitting considering the artistic theme of the hotel.

Moor and Mead

As with the rest of the property, the room features photographs and artworks by emerging London creatives. It’s a very casual dining environment, with a seasonally changing menu that features sharing plates, larger fish, meat and vegetarian plates, and sourdough pizza. There’s a good drinks list, with a range of cocktails riffing on the photography theme.

We shared the burrata with dried tomatoes, olive crumb, basil and sourdough (£8.50) and a less impressive coconut daal, poached egg, crispy shallots with flatbread (£6.50), followed by a delicious grilled mackerel with roasted beetroot on a bed of horseradish crème fraiche and gnocchi with whipped goat’s cheese and lemon pangrattato (£11.50). All portions are generous and great value.

A buffet breakfast is also served on the first floor space. It has a good offering but there were no instructions on how to order hot food and I noticed some other guests were a little confused too. I stuck to the buffet and enjoyed a pot of granola with yogurt and fresh berries.

Moor and Mead

Meetings

The light-filled public spaces are a lovely working environment, and the hotel offers a day pass, priced at £30, to passers-by which includes access to the gym, breakfast and a one-course lunch at the restaurant, unlimited tea and coffee, and free wifi.

The entire second floor is dedicated to meetings and events, with a stylish reception area and 322 sqm of space which caters to up to 250 guests.

Montcalm East Photo Lab

Leisure

There is a spa on the lower ground floor, which opened in November 2021, and takes its name ‘Bokeh’ after the term that refers to the hazed, soft focus of an image. The treatment rooms, too, are named after artists such as Banksy.

Bokeh Spa includes a 12-metre swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna, treatments in collaboration with British CBD and wellness brand OTO, a boutique and a 24-hour gym.

If it weren’t for the occasional encounter with a guest in a fluffy bathrobe in the lift, you would barely know it existed.

The hotel also offers a ‘Photo Lab’ experience, which allows you to print polaroids and enjoy cocktails within a private red velvet curtained-off space. It’s not quite the offer for a business traveller but I’m told it appeals to private groups.

Montcalm East Spa. Credit Matthew Shaw.

Verdict

Montcalm East goes beyond its accommodation purpose, offering a fun and experiential stay for guests thanks to its gallery of interesting and surreal prints, buzzy public spaces and excellent leisure facilities.

The downfall is that the room’s supposedly ‘high-tech’ features are not straightforward or reliable.

Fact box

Best for

Creative travellers looking for a well-located stay in East London

Don’t miss

Scanning the QR code of artworks to improve your photographic eye

Price

Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in May started from £219 for an Anything But Standard room with a queen bed and city view.

Contact 

151–157 City Road, Hoxton, EC1V 1JH; 020 3837 3000; montcalmeast.com

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