East London is undoubtedly still the capital’s coolest area. From industrial architecture to hipster bars and restaurants, no trip to the capital is complete without a visit to Brick Lane or Columbia Road Flower Market. Of course, with gentrification come rising hotel prices, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the area. Stay in style and save some money with our pick of the area’s best budget hotels.
Located next to Aldgate East tube station, this trendy hotel is in prime position for London’s coolest bars and restaurants – but if it’s an excellent cup of coffee you’re after, you need go no further than the hotel’s own café. The rooms themselves are lavish, to say the least: each one has its own living room, kitchen (including a NutriBullet) and a custom-designed pink sofa you’ll want to take home with you. Be sure to set a night aside for a visit to the restaurant, where chef George Tannock’s delightful menu includes seasonal dishes like Devonshire crab or burrata with orange, mint and smoked almonds.
Other hotels in the area charge double the nightly rate of the Z Shoreditch, and yet a stay here doesn’t feel like a compromise. Sure, the rooms are relatively low-key, but each one has its own wet room and scores extra points for its comfy mattresses and pillows made from natural materials. The building itself is very grand – built in 1898, it used to be known as the Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms and was used to provide cheap meals for locals. The building has also been soundproofed to keep out the noise from the nearby Old Street roundabout.
The Moxy brand comes from Marriott, but it doesn’t feel like a generic chain hotel. There’s a lively feeling from the minute you set foot in the lobby, thanks to the colourful decor, stack of board games to play and stash of silly props – such as oversized sunglasses – to have fun with. The rooms are nondescript but have all the amenities you could need, including walk-in showers and TVs. The ExCel offering is right by the local conference centre, making it handy for a work stay, but it’s also a great base for those looking to explore London.
Historic Whitechapel always feels like an exciting place to be, and you definitely get a sense of the area in the New Road Hotel. Converted from a former textile factory, it’s now owned by three brothers whose father had a job in the factory in the ’60s. As a result, original features – such as exposed brick walls, large windows and traditional signage – feature throughout. Rooms come in different sizes: the smaller ‘Warehouse’ rooms still have a huge bed but they are nestled in cosy booths. Dining options are a treat, too – the Chophouse, from celebrated chef Marco Pierre White, is as satisfying as you’d hope, while the cereal café (yes, really) appeals to the hipster contingent.
Conscious of your impact on the world? Good Hotel’s profits go right back into the business, which helps unemployed members of the local community with training and work. The hotel itself is unusual – it’s a floating shipping container-style creation with a light-up sign that stands out against the nearby concrete buildings. The interior decoration is minimalist, while the rooms are small but cosy with blankets and plush carpets.
The thought of staying on a boat might conjure up images of haughty cruises, but that’s the last thing you’ll find in East London. Instead, the Sunborn, a renovated moored ship at the Royal Victoria Dock, has all the authenticity but none of the pretension. The boat itself has never sailed – it doesn’t even have an engine – but the oak wood and chandeliers certainly make you feel as if you’re on board the Titanic. There are plenty of modern features to keep you firmly in the 21st century, including iPads in the rooms and a Decléor spa.
The Aloft is a great option for lovers of minimalist design, while the wood-lined lobby is welcoming with quirky features such as a cartoon mural. While this hotel is often frequented by businesspeople, it’s actually a trendy hub that’s close enough to the city for tourists to explore the area. The restaurant and bar are simple but fun, particularly in summer when a terrace is opened up and DJs entertain the guests.
In the busy metropolis that is London, one building can often be indistinguishable from the next. The M by Montcalm, however, is one that’s bound to catch the eye of passersby. The angular shape and mismatched windows are a sign of the modernity of the hotel’s interior. A focus on tech means there are tabletop iPads in reception, high-speed Wi-Fi throughout and in-room units to control everything from the temperature to the coloured mood lighting.