A sister property to the Ampersand in South Kensington, Vintry and Mercer opened in February. It pays homage to its historic location in the City of London’s Vintry ward and also draws inspiration from the Mercer Guild, which once traded fine fabrics in the area.
What's it like?
Tucked away at the end of the cobbled muse-like Garlick Hill, the hotel is nestled amongst both old architectural landmarks – St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge – and modern glass skyscrapers – the Gherkin and the Shard.
Vintry and Mercer’s interiors reflect its setting, with décor that blends old and new. Vintage-style trading maps and bespoke fabrics pepper the interiors, a nod no doubt to the guilds that once dominated the area, while pot plants and state-of-the-art tech will appeal to millennials.
The hotel clearly panders to the Instagram generation, with interiors calling for photo opportunities. The hotel entrance is one such example, with small palm trees framing the glass door and exposed light bulbs overhead. The street’s paving stones continue into the hallway, with trellised plants and exposed brick on the left, and the reception room to the right. While it’s clear that the hotel wants to incorporate an alfresco feel to its interiors, the reception goes a bit overboard, filling every windowsill with plants and green furniture to match. Check-in was quick and easy, and the staff are very friendly and accommodating.
The lobby area on the ground floor is open-plan, with access to the all-day restaurant Vintry Kitchen. The space is dominated by a copper spiral staircase with a similarly shaped chandelier, leading down to the hotel’s lower-ground floor where you’ll find an art installation of old-school suitcases, three private rooms, a gym and the hotel’s cocktail bar (more on this later). Lifts require a key card for all guest floors, though the lower-ground and seventh-floor roof terrace are open to non-hotel guests.
Where is it?
The hotel is within walking distance of Cannon Street, Bank and Mansion House stations; the last of these has an entrance on the same street. While situated at the heart of the bustling city, the hotel remains quiet thanks to its backstreet location.
Bloomberg’s vast European headquarters is a stone’s throw from the hotel, while the covered pedestrian walkway Bloomberg Arcade is home to a several restaurants, cafes and public plazas. Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern are also within the vicinity of the hotel, while shopping destinations One New Change and the Royal Exchange are nearby.
Vintry and Mercer has 92 rooms in five categories, ranging in size from 15 sqm to 32 sqm. The Standard is small but fits a queen-sized bed, Superior and Deluxe rooms are more spacious with a king bed and the Deluxe and Studio Suites have balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows. Colour schemes differ depending on room category; in ascending order, the rooms are decorated in ochre, blue, purple and red. Velvet furnishings dominate the rooms, from the upholstered headboards to the cushions, plush chairs and heavy curtains. Old trading maps double as wallpaper and contemporary artwork mimics the city location.
All rooms have the same amenities, with tea-making facilities, a cafetiere with both regular and decaf coffee, Dragonfly tea (English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Camomile and Peppermint), and a minibar refilled daily with snacks, still and sparkling water, milk, two juices and two soft drinks. Superior rooms and above also feature a Nespresso machine and miniature Marshall amp speaker.
Rooms have both a retro rotary telephone and a Handy mobile phone – I stuck to the old-school phone to contact reception, and preferred using my mobile rather than the Handy phone, as the latter was filled with ads and dining vouchers. It is, however, useful for international travellers, allowing them to make local and international calls to around 20 countries (including USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore), and use data free of charge both in-room and out-and-about. You’ll also find neighbourhood recommendations courtesy of the Luxos city guide, and there’s no privacy risk as it performs a data erase after you checkout, ready for the next guest.
I stayed in a Deluxe Studio on the 6th floor, (these rooms range from 22 – 28 sqm), with a very comfortable king-sized bed and guild-printed pillows. Two bedside lights attached to the frame allow for night-time reading, and there are three buttons to the side of the bed for various lighting options.
There is also a handy button to switch off all the lights, two USB sockets and a plug on either side of the bed. Side tables with a small draw also frame the bed. A glass-panelled balcony spans the width of the room, filling the space with natural light and breath-taking views of the city.
A mesh-style wardrobe has ample space for hanging up suits, and also has a safe and umbrella. Rather than a card to hang on the door, the rooms have both a ‘do not disturb’ button and a ‘make up my room’ button.
There is a good-sized studded desk, with coffee-table books to leaf through if you want to procrastinate. A set of sockets and USBs are above the desk and wifi is complimentary, with no password required.
The bathrooms are particularly luxurious, with under-floor heating, marble walls and ceramic teal geometric tiles. Access is through a sliding door from the bedroom, and the toilet is in a separate room within the bathroom.
Amenities in all bathrooms include C.O. Bigelow products, a loofah pad, and make-up remover (this proved useful as it is easily forgotten when travelling) along with a robe and slippers.
Standard rooms have walk-in showers, whereas deluxe and above have baths with showers overhead. My room had a freestanding bathtub, however I was unable to test it out, as the plug was faulty and wouldn’t stop from draining. The built-in TV at the end of the bathtub is a nice touch, though cumbersome to function – it was difficult to change channel and turn the TV off, requiring various angles and a mixture of buttons to get the desired result.
Food and drink
The hotel has three dining options, varying in formality. Vintry Kitchen is a casual all-day dining spot filled with leather banquettes, marble-topped tables and wicker wall decorations.
Breakfast takes place here, with the option to order brunch-style dishes from the kitchen, ranging between £5.50 and £12.50, or a buffet assortment of pastries, cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruit and eggs. I kicked off the day with Spanish-style omelette, gorgeous banana bread, and fresh fruit with Greek yoghurt from the counter. At £18, make sure you get the most out of the buffet. The restaurant doubles as an Asian tapas restaurant in the evening and word is that wines can be tapped straight from the barrels lining the gantry.
The Mercer Roof Terrace, located on the seventh floor, offers lunch and dinner daily apart from Sunday evening. Specialising in British gastronomy with a modern twist, chef Chris Golding divides the menu into Land (steaks and poultry), Sea (fish) and Earth (vegetarian dishes), with dishes presented on speckled ceramic plates.
The al fresco patio overlooks London’s impressive skyline, with views of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and the glistening Shard, and is certain to get a lot of attention from the city crowd when summer arrives. While we visited on a (typically British) gloomy day, we could appreciate the skyline from the warmth of an indoor table thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The terrace also features sails, which can be rolled-out if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Starters range from £8.50 to £16.50, mains tend to range from £14.50 to £46, and desserts are around £6. Our waiter, who doubled as the restaurant’s sommelier, was very friendly and allowed us to taste some wine before committing to a certain label. To start, we ordered the crispy fried cod cheeks, golden nuggets with a tasty watercress mayonnaise, which we enjoyed alongside the sweet Guinness bread. A picture-perfect small plate of the first asparagus of the season with wild garlic and edible flowers was a highlight.
While carnivores will likely be drawn to the immense steaks – a 1kg Tomahawk is priced at £85 – we opted for the perfectly seared cod fillet with wild garlic and leeks, and a tranche of halibut with seaweed, butter and spinach. Sides will set you back another £4.50, but the smoked potato purée is worth the extra buck, a brilliant twist on classic mash presented in a mini Le Creuset dish. While we were plenty satisfied at this point, we couldn’t resist Mercer’s desserts – an overflowing chocolate mousse, which resembled a hot chocolate, and an apple crumble tart.
The hotel’s speakeasy-style cocktail bar, Do Not Disturb, whisks you off to 1920s New York with barrel-aged cocktails, small bites, and hand-beaded artwork of the Ziegfeld Follies. The dimly lit atmospheric bar might just become the city’s best-kept secret, hidden away on the lower-ground of the hotel, barely noticeable from its ordinary door – non-hotel guests can also access the bar through a discreet darkened entrance on Garlick Hill.
Art-deco interiors are complemented by plush velvet chairs, wine-coloured leather banquettes and small marble tables, with cosy alcoves perfect for secret work deals. It was busy for an early Wednesday evening, with businesspeople enjoying after-work drinks. Note that, despite its name, you might still get inundated with emails as the wifi works underground. While my house cocktail, The Martina, was intriguing – the soy sauce ingredient was the main draw – it was rather medicinal and too sweet for my liking. The Grand Sons, however, was a gin-based delight served with a biscotti-like cake.
The hotel has three event spaces, each with their own distinct character. On the night we visited, two of the rooms were booked for events. The Music Room, The Library, and The Drawing Room can host meetings, dinners or drinks receptions. There is also a breakout area with computers and printers for guest use.
The hotel has a small gym on the lower ground floor, only accessible to guests with the use of the key card. It features a treadmill, bike, rowing machine, cross trainer and free weights. Towels and complimentary bottled water are also available.
Vintry and Mercer suits those looking for a boutique-style alternative to more run-of-the-mill business hotels in the City. Staff are friendly, rooms are luxurious and well equipped, and the views and food at Mercer Roof Terrace are the most impressive of all.
Nostalgic décor and impressive views of the city’s skyline
Taking in the London skyline over dinner at Mercer Roof Terrace, followed by a nightcap at Do Not Disturb
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in June start from £275
20 Garlick Hill, London, EC4V 2AU