A clash of artistic minds and tech money has carved out East London’s reputation as one of the city’s most diverse and eclectic areas. Discover some of the best hotels that reflect the East’s bold character.
Historic, edgy and more than a little bit hip, East London has claimed its spot as the coolest area of the city. Home to Shoreditch, Hackney, Dalston and Whitechapel, it’s a hub of multi-culture, great food and boundary-pushing creatives. But despite what you think you know about London’s edgy East, its boroughs are bound to surprise you. Here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the 14 best hotels to book for your visit.
In the heart of Bethnal Green, Town Hall Hotel is a beautiful Edwardian building that has featured in such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Rooms range from simple double rooms with casual retro furnishings to the cavernous De Montfort Suite (perfect for private parties) where barrel-vaulted ceilings and arched windows let in floods of natural light onto the glass-partitioned space, complete with a vintage piano and earth-toned ’70s-style furniture. Head down to the Gatsby-esque indoor pool for a refreshing morning swim in its aquamarine-tiled depths, or try the Atlantic Cod at the Michelin-star in-house restaurant Da Terra.
The Hoxton leads the way for boutique hotels and collaborative working spaces in East London and remains a favourite among professionals, who love to descend on the open-plan lobby and dining area for dynamic meetings or multiple negronis. Up in the rooms, you’ll appreciate the crisp, white sheets, leather chesterfield sofas and signature backlit mirrors that throw out some of the most flattering selfie lighting in the whole of London. Art lovers should opt for one of the nine concept rooms, each of which has been designed by a local artist.
This eccentric addition to Shoreditch – which takes its name from an 18th-century interiors writer – is perfect for those seeking to experience the quirkier side of London. Guests can live out their own Sherlock Holmes fantasy by roaming the wood-panelled halls, reclining on the antique sofas with a stiff drink and rifling through the rich collection of first editions that line the bookshelves. It’s worth a stay for the bathrooms alone, which feature restored period fittings such as vintage copper showers and cast-iron roll-top baths. Whether you’re taking afternoon tea in the drawing room or breakfast in the walled garden, the hospitality shown by the staff is certain to make you feel like an aristocrat.
If you’re a regular traveller in search of something a little more homely than a simple bed-and-bath situation, look no further than Leman Locke, a luxury aparthotel in the heart of Aldgate. There’s a whole programme that’s designed to make you feel like part of the family, including a running club, artist-in-residence, and yoga and meditation classes. This sense of serenity and community continues up in the mini-apartments, where simple Scandi design makes for a calming atmosphere. Fully equipped kitchens, smart TVs and washer/dryers add a sense of convenience, while the calm palette of pinks and greys turns the rooms into little peaceful havens – a rarity in such a busy area of London.
Bright, playful and a little bit cheeky, Mama Shelter is a boutique hotel with bags of personality. Tongue-in-cheek bedroom features like looney tunes masks and curious quotes on bathroom items hint at what Mama Shelter is all about – not taking yourself, or life, too seriously. In this spirit, leave your inhibitions at the door and belt out your favourite songs in the karaoke rooms – the vintage microphones (and one or two cocktails) will have you unleashing your inner pop star in no time.
The Curtain injects a splash of punk into the graffitied streets of Shoreditch – purple tartan cushions clash stylistically with forest-green ottomans, and Bluetooth-enabled Marshall speakers sit on industrial cabinets in every room. Basement restaurant Red Rooster – from Obama’s favourite chef Marcus Samuelsson – serves and hosts a not-to-be-missed gospel brunch every Sunday with live music. Get your daily fix of endorphins at the gym or swimming in the heated Moroccan-inspired pool on the plant-fringed rooftop. Top it all off with a tipple or two under the fairy lights of the LIDO bar – the Solstice cocktail, made with martini fiero, hellfire bitters and ginger ale, is a standout.
Painted with a dappled terracotta finish and adorned in luxurious woollen throws, shearling rugs and roughly hewn carpentry, there’s a rustic feel to The Culpeper that you wouldn’t expect to find in this salt-of-the-earth East End neighbourhood. Rather more like a farmhouse than a townhouse, the rooms here are just as cosy and welcoming as the ground floor pub, where a central bar, exposed brickwork and an abundance of comfortable seating and greenery make it a huge hit with the after-work crowd.
40 Winks manages to be both elegant and opulent without ever being over the top. Treasures and trinkets litter the surfaces – a pile of carefully chosen books here, an antique lamp there – and each of the two bedrooms is filled with light. Yes, you read correctly, there are only two bedrooms at this boutique hotel/B&B and they share a bathroom; so either you can book out the entire space for a party of three or get to know your neighbours while waiting to use the facilities. This is a truly hidden gem – it’s even gone under the radar of some of London’s most knowledgeable inhabitants – so book well ahead of your visit to avoid disappointment.
A strikingly futuristic-industrial structure, Nobu Hotel Shoreditch combines an exposed concrete and glass exterior with a bamboo lined courtyard that pays homage to the brand’s Japanese roots. Overseen by Nobu Matsuhisa, the in-house restaurant needs little introduction, and you’d be remiss to check out without trying a few of his celebrated delicacies such as miso black cod and toro sashimi. Japanese-inspired rooms stick to neutral tones and midnight blues with gold accents, complemented by orb lights, floral flourishes and a traditional tea set – perfect for a morning beverage in bed. Spend the day exploring neighbouring Brick Lane and the Barbican before heading back to the spa for one of Nobu’s signature massages.
In an unlikely East London neighbourhood, New Road Hotel is a garment factory-turned-boutique hotel. Its exposed brick walls and vintage Hollywood-style lighting may not be novel, but the hotel puts its own spin on industrial decor with booth-like beds upholstered in brightly coloured leather (sitting cinematically opposite 49-inch flat-screen TVs. On the top floor, the lofts offer up luxury extras: you can relax in the hot tub with views of the jagged city skyline, have a tipple on the terrace or sprawl out on the king-size beds. Head downstairs for top-tier steak at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant and daiquiris at the neon-lit bar, which updates the warehouse aesthetic with raw metal surfaces and glossy teal tiles.
This towering high-rise hotel has put a bold stamp on the skyline of Stratford. Overlooking the Olympic Park, rooms embody city slicker sophistication with muted grey tones punctuated by rust-orange blankets and coral armchairs. Bathrooms have rainforest showers and are stocked with eco-conscious organic toiletries by Ren, while the Dualit coffee machine means you can whip up your own espresso. Splash out for a night in the 65-square-metre (700-square-foot) Manhattan Studio to view impressive city vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows from the comfort of the super king-size bed.
Moments from Liverpool Street station and the suit-and-ties of the financial district, 196 Bishopsgate boasts a comparatively homely interior. Exposed wooden beams, chocolate chesterfield sofas and blood-red velvet accents add a cosy farmhouse feel to rooms and stand out against the immaculate white walls. Well suited to longer stays, the expansive spaces are fitted with fully equipped kitchens, made all the more convenient by a grocery delivery service and 24-hour reception that you can call for the inside track on the surrounding area. Across the road, Spitalfields Market promises a plethora of curious treasures, while a craft ale at 19th-century staple Dirty Dicks is practically a requirement.
The sprawling lobby of this eclectic hotel is a Dalí-esque kaleidoscope of colours, full of expressive wall art and retro furniture. Deeper in you’ll find a tropicana-meets-Banksy style breakfast bar, Grecian-style meeting rooms with grand coved ceilings and the mahogany-panelled Victorian gastropub. Rooms are more restrained, with subdued tones and pops of pink providing the perfect setting for in-room spa treatments like manicures and facials. Fans of brunch should indulge in bottomless spritzers in the plant-filled setting of Rake’s Café Bar, while sushi-lovers cannot miss the fresh fish at minimalist restaurant Miyako.
The Good Hotel is a floating marvel that has travelled from its previous spot in Amsterdam to the Royal Victorian Docks. Living up to its name, the establishment promotes goodness in every form, with charitable donations going towards educating Guatemalan children from low-income families and training for the unemployed. Sanctuary is found in the minimalist interior of the rooms, using natural light, greenery and wooden furniture for a clean, natural aesthetic. Check out the roof for an aptly nautical setting where you can sit on beachy white furniture – bubbles in hand – and check out sweeping views of the Thames and The O2 arena.