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 and Whitechapel, it’s a hub of multi-culture, great food and boundary-pushing creatives. Here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the 11 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. Its modern decor perfectly juxtaposes the building’s original features, all of which have been restored to their original glory. A stay in one of the suites will have you sleeping under the cornicing on a mezzanine level and, when you book into a standard room, you’ll be treated to a state-of-the-art, open-plan bathroom. The indoor pool looks like a piece of modern art, while the gold-burnished bar looks like it belongs in downtown New York.
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 book shelves. 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 program 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.
Peppered with original artwork, Revo radios and carefully-curated vinyl and books, a stay at Ace Hotel feels like a peek inside a rock star’s house. Grittier than most of its competition, the design team behind this hotel has worked hard to reflect the effortless cool of the neighbourhood. Build up an appetite on the gym’s very own climbing wall before heading downstairs for French toast and Moroccan eggs at the Hoi Polloi brasserie. It’s well worth taking a trip up to the rooftop bar – you’ll be rewarded with a sprawling private terrace and uninterrupted views of the East End.
The Curtain brings a glimpse of New York to London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood. Think exposed brick walls warmed by thick velvet curtains and industrial spaces soothed by luxurious art deco furnishings. Basement restaurant Red Rooster – from Obama’s favourite chef Marcus Samuelsson – serves and hosts a weekly gospel brunch. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the rooftop pool, or a Curtain gin cocktail among the hanging plants and emerald tiles of The Green Room bar.
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-cum-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.
Industrial simplicity meets understated elegance at Nobu Shoreditch. Overseen by Nobu Matsuhisa, the in-house restaurant bears both the name and menu of this legendary chef, plying visitors with delicacies such as miso black cod and toro sashimi. There’s a tasting menu, too, for the particularly indecisive. Spend the day exploring neighbouring Brick Lane and Barbican before heading back to the spa for one of Nobu’s signature massages. Japanese-inspired sophistication is the name of the game at Nobu, and it attracts the most discerning of visitors.
Point A is stripped back to the essentials – the rooms are small but perfectly formed with Hypnos beds, power showers, smart TVs and super-fast Wi-Fi all adding a touch of luxury to this budget-friendly option. Get up and head down to the breakfast bar in the morning, which looks like a kind of cereal-based pick-and-mix stall and has everything you need to start the day right.
Out-of-town prices in inner-city London? Yes please! This is exactly what you’ll find at the Z Hotel, Shoreditch, where understated elegance meets affordable convenience. Built in the new Bower area of Old Street – a hub that looks to connect people through both business and pleasure – its rooms are functional and minimalist, keeping things basic and doing away with anything superfluous. Rooms range from doubles to family size, and there are several accessible options for those who need them.