Tried & Tested

Hotel review: The Stratford, London

7 Dec 2019 by Hannah Brandler
Bedroom. Rich Stapleton

Background

The hotel is managed by the Manhattan Loft Corporation, a property development company led by Harry Handelsman (of Chiltern Firehouse and St Pancras Renaissance Hotel fame), which focuses on renovating “former factories and derelict warehouses”.

The Stratford is neither, but is an ambitious new-build which took ten years to construct. Within the 42-storey building lies a 145-room hotel and 248 furnished loft apartments, described by Handelsman as “vertical living”. The hotel opened in July and occupies the first seven floors, while the apartments fill the upper 35 levels.

Exterior. Luke Hayes

What's it like?

The building lights up the Stratford scene with its double-cantilevered tower – floors seven, 25 and 36 have roof terraces which are cut out from the building. Designed by SOM architects, whose previous work includes the Burj Khalifa and One World Trade Centre, it’s a striking piece of architecture which stands out in the largely residential area. Serrated floor-to-ceiling windows add to the intriguing design, and means that all the spaces are flooded with natural light.

While the building itself is an easy find, there don’t seem to be signs for the actual hotel. I passed the dedicated loft apartments entrance, and walked into the Stratford Brasserie through the revolving doors, a large impressive triple-height area with various seating areas for dining and drinking, as well as a long bar dazzling in colourful cocktails. There’s also an interesting monochrome sculpture Murmuration by Paul Cocksedge, which is suspended from the ceiling and resembles papers flying in the wind. I ended up asking a member of staff where I could find the hotel.

Stratford Brasserie Lobby

It turns out that it’s hidden around the corner in a darker space, with the check-in desk facing the elevators. The brasserie and lounge area, therefore, act as the lobby and makes for a great lively introduction to the hotel. Check-in was easy and while my card didn’t work at first, the staff were quick to resolve the situation.

The hotel has incorporated green elements into the building – there are plants throughout, and three sky gardens with greenery emerging from the wooden patios – only the seventh floor terrace is accessible to hotel guests, however. The hotel is keen on sustainability, so grows its own vegetables at an organic farm 40-minutes from London, and also uses ethically sourced organic cotton for the uniforms and bed linen.

Japanese Garden. Luke Hayes

Where is it?

In its eponymous region, next door to east London’s Westfield shopping centre and Stratford International train station, whose high-speed Javelin gets you to King’s Cross in six minutes. Stratford station is also a ten-minute walk away, from which you can get the underground, and the DLR is adjacent to the building, with easy access to London City airport. Thanks to its high-rise nature – the building is 143 metres high – there are unobstructed views of the city and it directly overlooks Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

While Stratford isn’t particularly exciting at the moment, it’s a prime property investment. In 2023, the area will see the arrival of the V&A, Sadler’s Wells and the London College of Fashion. Not to mention the (forever delayed) launch of Crossrail – fingers crossed.

View from 38th floor. Luke Hayes

Rooms

The hotel’s 145 rooms come in seven categories, ranging from a 23 sqm Standard with a queen bed to a huge 65 sqm Manhattan Studio with a super king bed, all with floor-to-ceiling windows. Rooms either overlook the street or look inwards to the light well, which has a glass dome sculpture. I stayed in a 28 sqm Large room, which differs from the smaller rooms in that it has a lounge area with stylish armchairs and a small wooden coffee table. Studios have a freestanding bathtub and Nespresso machines.

Large Room

Interiors have been designed by Space Copenhagen and are Scandi-chic, with minimalist features, pastel colour palettes and natural timber elements. For this reason, the rooms feel very calming and it’s clear that there’s been a lot of care to detail.

All the furnishings harmonise well, and gold accents jazz up the handcrafted oak desk, bed frame and light fixtures. There is a wide full-length mirror as well as a large circular vanity mirror in the bedroom. The bed is very comfortable, with a grey curved headboard, Egyptian cotton sheets and a soft woven throw by Italian couture brand Society Limonta – both cosy and stylish.

There are plenty of USB and sockets throughout the room, and a tablet beside the bed provides information about the hotel facilities, a friendly welcome message, and the opportunity to request various services – from restocking the minibar to re-booking the hotel should you already want a future stay. Other high-tech amenities include a large flat-screen TV, programmed with Sky and Google Chromecast.

Bedroom. Rich Stapleton

Bathrooms are particularly stylish, clad in stone, with a soothing walk-in rainfall shower and large Ren toiletries. Along with a well-stocked minibar – which includes a handy phone charging kit – there’s a Dualit coffee machine and various East India Company teas. The wardrobes also have a comfy bathrobe and a Stratford-labelled hoodie, though the latter seemed quite out of place and I wasn’t sure at first if it had been left behind by a previous guest.

Bathrooms. Rich Stapleton

Food and drink

The hotel has two restaurants, the ground-floor Stratford Brasserie and seventh-floor Allegra – the latter is accessible from a dedicated elevator on the ground floor. The former is a contemporary all-day dining spot in the lobby which serves seasonal European dishes from its open kitchen. Despite sharing the space with other facilities, sound does not travel from one end of the room to the other, making for a peaceful dining experience.

Overseen by chef Ben Harrington, formerly of Soho House, guests can choose from classic burgers and steaks to the inviting snack selection – we devoured the crispy cod cheeks with tartar sauce (£6), and a surprisingly show stopping bruschetta-like smoky Romero pepper with anchovies and salsa verde on charred sourdough (£5). The snacks are generous in size, and could easily replace a starter.

We opted for fish mains – the pan-fried hake with smoked pancetta, white beans and salsify (£19) was lovely, as was the Chalk Stream Farm trout with lobster hash, winter greens and a bisque sauce (£21). In the spirit of autumn, we chose sides of roast carrots with honey and rosemary (£3.50), though these were heavy on honey, and baked sweet potato with dill, sour cream and chilli (£5). Plenty full, we missed dessert.

For those looking for a business lunch, or eager to avoid Westfield’s stressful food court mid-shopping, the brasserie offers a very reasonable set menu – three courses cost £18. Breakfast is also served here, ranging from healthy fruit and granola bowls to brunch-style eggs and American pancakes. Staff are very friendly and attentive.

Snacks at Stratford Brasserie

There’s a lounge area next to the restaurant, with a great signature cocktail selection along with some snacky bites – club sandwiches and pork croquettes, for instance. There’s a warming open fire, marble tables, soaring ceilings and chilled music, and the space has an alpine feel to it.

The Mezzanine lounge overlooks this room but is accessible from the check-in area, discreetly hidden behind a drawn curtain, giving it an air of exclusivity. By day, it’s a perfect spot for working or catching up with friends but transforms into a glamorous bar as the night falls. Purple lighting on the stairs sets the tone, preparing you for a decadent night of New York-inspired signature cocktails, snacks and DJ sets until 2am.

Mezzanine

Allegra is a fine-dining destination overseen by head chef Patrick Powell – as advised by our waitress at the brasserie, it’s all about fancy food. Main courses range from £19 to £36, and there’s a whopping 800g rib-eye steak to share for £80. As with the rooms, interiors have been designed by Space Copenhagen, and are fittingly Nordic with cool tones, linear elements and floor-to-ceiling windows shaded by lightweight curtains.

The restaurant’s terrace, referred to as the Highline due to its resemblance to the New York original, is an elevated garden filled with wildflowers, water features and a striking cedar-cantilevered roof which lights up as the sun sets.

Allegra

Business

The Stratford has four meeting rooms on the mezzanine level with floor-to-ceiling windows, 5G wifi, flat screen TVs and digital projectors.

Leisure

The hotel has a 24-hour gym with equipment from Technogym and various classes on offer, including monthly dog-yoga classes – sign me up. The hotel is also planning to offer sky yoga on its various landscaped roof terraces when it starts to heat up again.

There’s also a rich events calendar, from the likes of life drawing classes to talks with artists and musicians, and cocktail masterclasses.

Cedar Garden Level 25. Luke Hayes

Verdict

The Stratford is a striking design hotel, both inside and out, with Nordic touches, nods to its Manhattan heritage, and excellent customer service. Rooms are chic and comfortable, there’s plenty of stylish areas for food and drink, and the sky gardens will be a great feature in the summer months. A great luxury addition to the up-and-coming neighbourhood, set to blossom over the next few years.

Fact box

  • Best for Skyline views from the seventh-floor Highline terrace
  • Don’t miss A signature cocktail by the roaring fire in the lobby area, followed by dinner at Stratford Brasserie
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in January for a Standard room start from £149
  • Contact 20 International Way, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 1FD; 0203 961 3333; thestratford.com
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