It’s Sir Terence Conran who kicked off proceedings in 2008 when he opened the Boundary in Shoreditch. Each bedroom measures a minimum of 30m2 and is dedicated to a different emblematic designer or design movement: Le Corbusier, Ray and Charles Eames, Bauhaus, Shaker… These capsules of cool are unique retreats for fans of design and architecture, but also those looking for a hotel room that breaks from the norm. Around £270.
Other boutique hotels followed, encouraged by the successful revival and growing renown of the neighbourhood. The Hoxton Hotel has gone for the New York loft living style, with exposed brickwork, leather club chairs, open-plan communal areas and contemporary furnishings in the rooms. Guests are won over by the general atmosphere and particularly the brunch. From £90.
The most recent addition to the East End’s hip hotels is the Ace Hotel (previously the Crowne Plaza), which opened its doors in September 2013. Its minimal-industrial style is a perfect fit for the young, cool, arty, techie Shoreditch vibe. At the time of writing, this fledgling was so new that the reviews comment on a few finishing touches that are not exactly finished… but given a little time these teething problems will hopefully be resolved. From £110.
Less original, but more affordable (from £75), the Shoreditch Inn also opened for business in 2013. Guests have been won over by the hotel’s location, right in the centre of the action, the gratifying breakfast and the comfortable, functional rooms, which make it excellent value for money.
A little further out, the recent Re London Shoreditch offers high standards at a remarkably low price (from £70): flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, a restaurant, a fitness centre, a meeting room… Both the peaceful atmosphere and the efficient staff have impressed guests.
Lastly, the Town Hall Hotel deserves a special mention for its cutting-edge design and unique, futuristic architecture. Set within a renovated town hall, the building’s unique period features have been carefully conserved, producing a one of a kind vintage-futuristic hybrid. As for the facilities, the indoor pool, the restaurant, and state of the art in-room technology leave nothing to chance. From £155.
Liverpool Street and Spitalfields
Liverpool Street and Spitalfields are closer to the centre, reflected in the higher standards and prices. Andaz Liverpool is a flamboyant five-star with an ultra-contemporary interiors that contrast with its grand Victorian façade. The building’s period character has been preserved in the lobby, bar and restaurant, but are juxtaposed with colourful neon lights and 1950s designer furniture. From £170.
Nearby, the Terence Conran-designed South Place Hotel has given the financial district a new lease of life, its all-night rooftop bar playing host to quality DJ sets a hip and happening hang-out for night owls. The work of local artists is also given exposure through regularly renewed exhibitions in the hotel. From £125.
This selection would not be complete without including The Zetter Townhouse, even if it is a little closer to the centre than the east, in Clerkenwell. The recent annex of the famous Zetter, this quirky boutique hotel contains just thirteen rooms and a cocktail bar. The décor is deliciously old-fashioned with a contemporary twist, mixing vibrant colours and fabrics with antique furniture and vintage fittings – very cool, very British and very kitsch. From £180.