Hotelier Novotel has shed its one-size-fits-all approach for its latest opening. Novotel London Canary Wharf is a towering 39-story building offering 360 degree views across the City of London, the East End and Greenwich.
The hotel – which manages to hold its own among the surrounding skyscrapers – opened to guests in February and marked its official launch last week with an event hosted at Bōkan, its destination restaurant, bar and terrace on the 37th, 38th and 39th floors.
Canary Wharf isn’t typically considered a place to go out in London, but Novotel and Bokan are hoping to change that. As more millennials move further east in search of a place to live, there is certainly a market for somewhere fun and affordable to hang out.
Bokan is supported by some top talent. They’ve recruited Aurelie Altemaire, formerly the head chef at Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, to create a simple-yet-classic menu, while at the bar Danilo Tersigni, who helped launch Mr. Fogg’s, has made sure that no guest goes thirsty.
The food and cocktails are trumped only by the views afforded by this unique space, comparable-if-not-better than The Shard and Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street. The atmosphere too is more relaxed and guests can enjoy the roof terrace or the bar downstairs for as long as they like.
There’s live jazz on Sunday and Bokan plans on bringing in DJs to perform on Saturday nights, according to Tersigni. With a license that runs to 2am, it makes perfect sense to be a destination for Londoners looking to dance, as well as enjoy some fine dining and cocktails.
The rooms – which start from £105 (US$135) per night – are comfortably sized and full of neat touches, including a button which frosts the glass wall between the rainforest shower and the main living space. Couples may not wish to preserve any modesty but it’s good to have the option.
With the O2 events space just across the river, Novotel London Canary Wharf will no doubt be a popular choice for anyone looking to turn one night’s revelry into a long weekend. Downstairs a well-sized pool (complete with fast stream jets that allow devoted swimmers to put in the practice), sauna and gym will also keep guests entertained.
The interior design harks back to an era when London’s waterways were awash with ships carrying exotic imports and the team has clearly drawn inspiration from the crates of tobacco and spices which once lined the docks. There’s a quaint Britishness to the look and feel of the hotel and even a bee garden on its roof, which will one day supply guests with their honey.
The immediate surroundings want little in terms of entertainment. There’s an Everyman Cinema showing the latest blockbusters, art house and classic movies, while Canary Wharf is also home to a surprisingly large collection of public artworks for the culturally curious to explore. However most other offerings are standard chain retailers and restaurants, but with the Underground and Docklands Light Railway only a five minute walk away, getting into town is not a problem.
With its latest venture, Novotel has clearly gone to great lengths to make London Canary Wharf feel inspired by and relevant to its surroundings – making it a refreshing departure from Canary Wharf’s other identikit hotels. If it’s something conveniently located and with a bit of character you’re looking for then this is the hotel for you.