Traditionally it was always known as the poor part of the capital, yet these days there’s no doubt about it: East London is the coolest place to be in London! Not only is it strategically located but there is so much character here, and especially in the hip E1/E2 parts of the East End (just a stone’s throw away from central London), there is a big focus on individuality and creativity. The choice of boutique hotels is exceptionally good here: they have so much history behind them and they make for the perfect place to stay during your visit to London without breaking the bank! Here is why East London’s hotels are the coolest place to stay in the capital!
Why East London’s hotels are the coolest place to stay in the capital!
London’s East End has always been a bit rough around the edges. So why now all of a sudden are upmarket and luxury boutique hotels popping up all over East London, and everyone is claiming (myself included!) that East London is the best part of town? Well first, it’s the most creative part of the capital. It’s full of young professionals with big dreams and creative minds. Prices are typically cheaper here than in other parts of London and so this is why it initially drew artists and young entrepreneurs to this area. People here always find a way to use their imagination to create something for the people and you’ll always find unique and quirky things here!
Particularly in the trendy E1/E2 areas of East London (mainly Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Bethnal Green and Whitechapel) that are located within walking distance of Bank and Liverpool Street, chain restaurants and branded hotels are virtually non-existent (yay!). Young creative entrepreneurs rule the roost here, and so you will see many popular independent restaurants and upmarket boutique hotels here. So many of the people living in this area are young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s – they are bang on with the latest trends and always looking for the next fun place to visit in the area. The entrepreneurs here know what their clientele need and deliver every time.
With luxury boutique hotels being cheaper here than in Central London, it means you can enjoy a trip to London in a fabulous hotel without spending a fortune! Now, whilst the prices are cheaper here, it definitely does not mean that the quality of hotels are compromised. Infact, the standard of boutique hotels in this part of London is so high as the competition is so great and owners put their everything into making their businesses work and making their hotels unique so that their guests will want to keep coming back. Costs are cheaper simply because the cost of buying or renting a property is a little bit lower in East London compared to other parts of the city. You see, for a long time many disused buildings, factories and warehouses lay in a derelict and run down state in the East End. The past few years have seen some of these buildings being snapped up at rock bottom prices and renovated and converted into luxury apartments, creative spaces and even boutique hotels.
I recently went back to the East End for a few days and had a staycation in one of my favourite boutique hotels here: New Road Hotel in Whitechapel, E1. I love the story behind this hotel: in 2011 three local brothers (The Malik brothers) bought the building of a former textiles factory and spent millions renovating it and turning it into the stylish 79 bed boutique New Road Hotel. This building holds particular significance for them as their father actually used to work in that very factory, after he had left Bangladesh in the 1960’s and moved to London! The hotel has kept the original design and appearance of the factory, with typical features such as the large windows and original exposed brick work (SO East London!). I’ve always been a sucker for old style buildings and hotels, they have so much history, charm and character!
Downstairs the lobby is very open-plan, and due to the large windows it feels very airy and spacious. Near the entrance of the hotel you’ll find the Cereal Grind cafe and the cocktail bar, which gets busy during the evenings, as well as Marco Pierre White’s super popular restaurant ‘Mr White’s English Chophouse’ at the back. A really nice creative working space is also available for those like myself who need to work from a laptop!
Going upstairs, along with the bedrooms you will find each floor has a creative space for the hotel guests: on the first floor you’ll find the games room, with a mini pool table (free to use) and an arcade-style games machine, how cool!
On the second floor is the library, complete with a variety of books and space to work quietly. The third floor is the ironing station, and the fourth floor is the yoga and fitness studio, which then goes out onto the rooftop that offers lovely views of the East London skyline and across into the City of London.
There are also free hot drinks stations on each floor offering coffee, tea and Cadbury’s hot chocolate.
There are three types of room here: the Pocket rooms (smallest), Warehouse rooms or Loft rooms (largest). But don’t be fooled, even the Pocket rooms contain a King size bed! Many people, myself included, stay in the Warehouse rooms during their stay here, and some of these rooms (Warehouse X rooms) actually feature a supersized 2m x 2m bed with a headboard on 3 sides, so you can sleep in any direction you wish! My room was Warehouse K and it had a headboard on 2 sides of the bed which was amazing, I’ve never seen a bed like that before anyway!
The Loft rooms offer amazing views of the city and the best room in the hotel even has a private spacious rooftop with a hot tub to unwind in! They let me have a look at the loft + hot tub room and it was soooo nice, there was even a huge mirror on the ceiling!
In keeping with the rest of the hotel, the rooms at New Road Hotel have kept the original factory features but the rooms also have an innovative and modern twist, focusing on practicality and minimalism: forget wardrobes, room telephones, minibars or kettles in the room! There are a hanging space with few hooks and hangers on the wall, which is all you need and it certainly saves on space (and let’s be honest, who actually uses hotel wardrobes?!).
Instead of having a telephone in the room, you can send a WhatsApp message to the hotel receptionist downstairs and they will reply straight away (great when you just can’t be bothered to speak to anyone). Instead of raiding the room minibar and receiving a nasty surprise bill at checkout there is a vending machine in the games room should you wish to purchase any snacks, and instead of having a kettle in the room, you can just head to the communal area on your floor and get a tea or coffee (or hot chocolate in my case!). The hotel even gives it’s own personal touch by leaving some welcome macaroons and a personalised welcome card for you in the room which is so sweet and thoughtful! How can you not love hotels that go the extra mile like this!
The rooms are very spacious, let in lots of light, and the bathrooms are really fresh and modern. They even have super amazing toiletries in the bathroom (not the usual cheap stuff you get in a lot of hotels) – the Heaven range by Deborah Mitchell, and the hotel actually gives you a 20% discount off the products if you wish to buy any downstairs!
After settling into the hotel, I headed down to Marco Pierre White’s restaurant on the ground floor. Marco Pierre White was the first and youngest British chef to achieve 3 Michelin stars. He has many restaurants around the country and his menu here focuses on steaks, grills and chops: traditional English food with a French twist, which is typical of Marco Pierre White.
I had dinner here and the food and service was honestly so great. As usual, I couldn’t decide on what to eat as I wanted everything on the menu, so I asked our lovely waiter Dennis to choose something that I would love. Naturally he recommended the 6oz Fillet steak, served with béarnaise sauce, vine tomatoes and triple cooked chips. Let me tell you, these triple cooked chips were like heaven, and don’t get me started on the steak, so delicious! It definitely went down nicely with my cocktail!
My friend was getting mega jealous as she recently turned pescetarian for her boyfriend (but misses meat so much!) so she had the Overton of St James’ Salmon Fishcake, but she said it was so tasty!
The desserts were also really good – we shared the classic dark chocolate mousse and Mr White’s sticky toffee pudding, yum!
The menu is very reasonably priced and the restaurant has a really nice ambience. We were there on a Thursday evening and it was fairly busy, so I would recommend to book if you plan to come during the weekend.
Breakfast is also served in Marco Pierre White’s restaurant from 06.30-10am. I enjoyed a delicious and healthy salmon and avocado breakfast as the past two mornings I had had full English breakfasts down the road at the famous Pellicci’s cafe so I needed a change! The full English breakfast is supposed to be amazing here though (if you are an avid pork lover keep in mind though that they do not serve pork here: the rashers are turkey and the sausages are beef – I’m sure they are just as tasty nonetheless!).
Cereal Grind Cafe:
As I mentioned earlier, the Cereal Grind cafe is also located downstairs. This is a relatively new concept that is trending in the UK and taking it by storm, because let’s be honest, what Brit doesn’t love a good bowl of cereal! New Road Hotel is actually the first hotel in the UK to have it’s very own cereal cafe!
You can walk into the cafe and literally order your favourite bowl of cereal at any time of the day! You can even get a bowl of rare are pricey cereals such as Lucky Charms or you can mix and match cereals. You can even have your very own cereal cocktail or crazy shake! (my favourite is Manhattan Raspberry Cheesecake, complete with a raspberry shake, fresh berries, whipped cream and cheesecake!). Plus, they even have almond and soya milk which was great for my milk intolerance, amazing!
New Road Hotel is conveniently located a 3 minute walk away from Whitechapel Tube Station. Transport links in Whitechapel are exceptionally good, with the tube (District and Hammersmith & City lines), overground trains, the DLR and regular buses (many operating 24 hours) running from here. Crossrail will soon open here too. Boris Bikes (London’s hire bikes) are also available just outside the hotel!
The hotel is next door to The Royal London Hospital, and world-renowned Brick Lane (the “curry mile” of London) and The Whitechapel Gallery are across the road. The Gherkin can be seen from Whitechapel High Street and takes just 20 minutes to walk to, and The City of London and Tower of London can both be reached by walking. The O2, City Airport, Stratford, Shoreditch and Colombia Road Flower Market are all within easy reach and can be accessed very easily from here with public transport.
East London is a melting pot of cultures and immigrants have been flocking specifically to Whitechapel and the surrounding neighbourhoods such as Spitalfields for years, including the French Huguenots in the 1600’s, Russian Jews in the early 1900’s, and more recently, Bengalis (from Bangladesh) in the 1960’s – like the father of the Malik brothers who own New Road Hotel. There is a very large Bengali community in Whitechapel, so you will see many shop signs are actually written in Bengali, as well as many saree shops, halal restaurants and shops selling traditional Bengali food. You’ll even see that some street names are written in English and Bengali (hence why Whitechapel is nicknamed Banglatown!).
Perhaps it may seem a bit overwhelming visiting this area for the first time, but one thing is for sure, Whitechapel holds a lot of character and history! To learn more about the colourful past of this neighbourhood my advice would be to definitely go on a Jack The Ripper tour (he murdered his victims in the streets of Whitechapel)! The streets of Whitechapel are perfectly safe these days though, and the locals here are very friendly! Staying at New Road Hotel you’ll feel a real East London vibe, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll definitely be sad to leave! Click here to go to New Road Hotel’s website.
If you would like to read more about boutique hotels and why you should always choose to stay in them, read my article Why you should totally stay in independent boutique hotels!
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