This is property investment and development company Definition Capital’s first foray into hospitality. The hotel opened at the beginning of October 2018.
Where is it?
In east London’s Bethnal Green, a short walk from the tube station for the Central line to Liverpool Street, and Cambridge Heath station, which also has rail services to Liverpool Street. Bethnal Green has an increasingly tempting array of bars and restaurants, with Paradise Row’s railway arches filled with hipster joints serving up craft brews, cocktails, small plates and moreish fast food to a cool crowd. In contrast, a hint of the old East End is also still discernible. A stroll down Bethnal Green Road reveals such treasures as E Pellicci, a renowned Italian caff that’s been serving locals since 1900. The excellent Museum of Childhood is opposite the hotel, should you get some downtime to take a nostalgia trip down memory lane.
What’s it like?
There is nothing superfluous in the design and concept behind the East London Hotel, which takes the more and more common approach of cutting out elements of hotel design that travellers don’t really need to enhance the quality of those that they do for a lower price.
The six-storey building has a contemporary black-brick exterior with most of the ground floor given over to the bar, which enjoys generous levels of natural light thanks to its corner position and large windows. The “reception” is also here, but rather than a desk, it comprises self-service machines and a staff member at a podium for those who require assistance. I was directed toward the machine, which was very straightforward to use, though my initial confusion compelled an employee to make a beeline to help me.
This space sets the tone for the rest of the hotel, with flooring a hip combination of poured grey resin and parquet, the underlit bar finished with patterned tiles, unconcealed fixtures and fittings, and mid century style furniture in mixed materials such as lightwood and leather.
There are 161 rooms, up to 24 sqm in size, and in four categories: standard twin and double, accessible premium double and family room. Note that rooms in the basement are windowless but a lightbox makes a good fist of preventing them from feeling bleak.
I’m in a standard double on the fourth floor, which has a pleasant view over to the adjacent Museum of Childhood and Museum Gardens. The scheme is a very palatable mix of deep blue-green and white walls, dark wood veneer, white composite surfaces and lighter wood flooring. Half of the room’s footprint is taken up by the double bed, which had a bespoke pocket-sprung mattress made by British company Millbrook.
Because one side of the bed is against the wall, couples would have to clamber over each other to get out, but there is a useful ledge to ensure they don’t have to persistently lean across to get a drink of water, or put their book/phone down. The 43-inch smart TV on the wall at the foot of the bed has features such as screen mirroring so you can watch the content on your phone.
At the other end of the room is a composite surface and stool with mirror, Nespresso machine, bottled water and, shock, real glasses (plastic cups are often used in less expensive accommodation). One feature I liked was the switch by the door which illuminates the room number outside to indicate you don’t want to be disturbed.
There is ample storage space for a couple of days, with room beneath the bed for luggage and shoes. Instead of a wardrobe there are a few hangers within a dark wood frame, under which is a pull-out ledge. This could feasibly be used as a work desk, though it is quite small and low – you’d be best served to take your laptop down to the bar/reception area or use the surface beneath the mirror. Free wifi throughout the hotel is good quality and, as this is east London, rooms don’t have phones. Instead you communicate with the hotel via Whatsapp on your own mobile.
The good-sized shower room and has a luxury feel, thanks to a chic grey and white scheme, monsoon shower and Rituals toiletries in pump tubes.
My only complaint is that though there is plenty of natural light when I arrive, there isn’t much lighting in the mirror area of the bedroom once night falls. A blessing, perhaps, depending on how closely you want to inspect your face.
Food and drink
The hotel doesn’t have a full restaurant, though the Due East bar, which sources from local suppliers serves small plates of food that go down nicely with the cocktails. I had a plate of smoked salmon from an east London smokehouse along with a rose water fizz cocktail, a moreish blend that included local gin, rose petal jelly and chamomile tea. I sat on one of the stools at the window – people-watching in this part of town is unrivalled.
I also had breakfast here from a pleasant menu of topped bagels, overnight oats and pastries. The coffee was good and the avocado-topped bagel exactly as you’d expect an avocado topped bagel to be, no more, no less. Prices are also about what you’d expect for east London, £2.80 for a flat white and £7 for the bagel. I thought it a convivial, light-filled setting for breakfast – much better than some of the crammed hipster joints in the vicinity.
There are no leisure facilities at the hotel. The area has plenty of gyms and the London Buddhist Centre is nearby on Bethnal Green Road, with mediation and yoga groups if you need a tonic for stress. Nearby York Hall leisure centre has a swimming pool, gym and sauna and spa. Music, comedy, theatre, museums, art galleries and other cultural pursuits abound in the area.
There are no meeting facilities; an informal catch up could easily be held in the bar area.
Yet another good addition to the London hotel scene, offering comfort and quality with a sophisticated feel in a fantastic location that provides access to the “real” London but also key business areas.
- Best for Good value comfort with a sense of luxury.
- Don’t miss The area’s excellent selection of places to eat and drink.
- Contact 309-317 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9LH; +44 (0) 203 146 1960; theeastlondonhotel.com