As soon as you step inside the unassuming tinted sliding front doors of the flagship citizenM Tower of London hotel you are immersed into an expansive contemporary lobby. Making my way into the middle of the lobby in search of the self-service check-in counters, I was quickly distracted by the funky decor, artwork, floor to ceiling shelves crammed with an assortment of items and the most amazing mid-century modern furniture. Even though I was a couple of hours early for the official 2pm check-in time, I thought I would chance to see if my room was ready. There were plenty of check-in screens available with two simple options ‘check-in’ or ‘check-out’ staring out at me. So far so good. As it was relatively quiet, a citizenM ambassador was readily on hand to walk me through the remainder of the process. Being a first time citizenM customer the neat thing with the check-in is you can choose your own room, a little bit like choosing your seat on an airplane. Due to my early arrival, none of the rooms with views to the Tower of London were available, and to alleviate my disappointment, the CitizenM ambassador quickly assured me that whilst my room would have an outside view (just not the Tower of London), there were fantastic views to be had from the cloudM bar on level 7 and 8. As I was wanted access to my room straight away so I could explore this interesting hotel, I trusted her advice and promptly chose room 401.
All checked in and with my room access cards in my hand, I was then greeting by this amazing sculpture called ‘Man with Suitcase’ by Indian artist Valay Shende on my way to the elevator. The life size sculpture is made of stainless steel discs which are apparently a key raw material of Indian daily life. The sculpture was very eye catching and for some strange reason reminded me of Elvis Presley. After my brief encounter with this astounding piece of artwork, I made my way up to the 4th floor and found my room easily enough without getting lost.
Opening the door and seeing the room for the first time, I was not disappointed having seen pictures on the hotel website. All 370 rooms are relatively the same size and configuration, and for some may seem quite small. The overall decor is predominately white and light wood with splashes of red. The room has a large XL king bed set flush against the window, vanity basin / cabinet, small fridge, small work desk and stool, chair and mini round table, and separate enclosed pod-like shower/toilet. Storage for luggage is in a deep set draw under the bed and a small enclave for hanging clothes is near the door. Although there was enough room as a single occupant with minimal overnight luggage, the room might be a bit of a squeeze for two people. The slightly odd feature of the hotel room configuration is the vanity basin is in the main bedroom. Once you get over this quirky feature, the vanity mirror has two long thin vertical strips in the mirror itself which is perfect for applying makeup. A separate full length mirror is located behind the door.
Most of the room electronics can be operated from a mini iPad. From raising / lowering the blinds, to adjusting the temperature, to selecting movies, to setting an alarm for an early wake up call. The coolest feature was the Smart Room whereby you can change the lighting depending on your mood (relax, romance, business, party) and comes with accompanying music from the TV. The movies are free and you have 40+ to choose from. Movies available during my stay included: The Danish Girl, Deadpool, Hail Caesar, How To Be Single, Joy, The Witch, Transformers, Zoolander 2, The Good Dinosaur. The iPad also has an Apple tv streaming feature, and the free wifi connection was excellent when in my room and throughout the hotel.
The XL king bed was extremely spacious and came with two large pillows and a duvet encapsulated in crisp white Italian linen. If you want more pillows or an additional duvet, all you need to do is dial 0 and request from a citizenM ambassador. The black-out blind and curtain darkened the room so much that if I hadn’t set my alarm for breakfast at 7am I would have slept in until noon. And it didn’t help that the duvet, pillows and bed were so snug and cozy I didn’t want to get out of bed at the sound of the alarm anyway.
Also, you won’t find an ironing board or iron in your room. However, the hotel does provide ‘ironing heaven’ rooms near the elevators on each floor. I was expecting a bland looking ironing room and did a double-take when passing by for the first time. The decor was very cool (in keeping with the rest of the hotel) and the fourth floor room had a iron riding cowboy mural, along with shelves filled with cameras, odds and ends, and old irons as well as the functional new. The rooms are open 24/7 so you can iron whenever the urge arises.
The pod-like bathroom contains a shower area and toilet. There are two shower head options to choose from, rain shower and hand-held, and are very easy to operate unlike some hotels where you spend ages trying to figure out how to turn the rain shower on. Two large white fluffy luxury bath sheets hang on a rail in the toilet area. The citizenM branded shower / shampoo AM and PM products smelt divine and are the only products provided in the shower. Surprisingly just using the shower / shampoo AM gel left my hair feeling lovely and soft. The hotel hair dryer is a decent size and hiding in a bright red bag in the vanity cabinet. Although there is no conditioner, you can request a body lotion and conditioner kit along with kits for feminine hygiene, ear plugs, shoe polishing cloths, shaving, sewing kit and shower cap. I forgot my toothpaste and upon requesting a dental kit, it was promptly delivered by a friendly, smiling citizenM ambassador to my room. The shower and hand soap products in large refillable bottles which helps reduce waste from the typical hotel mini bottled products. If you find you love the citizenM products, you can conveniently purchase from the store in the lobby or order online (https://collectionm.com).
CitizenM Living-room Lobby
As the hotel rooms are relatively small, this gives you the perfect excuse to hang out in the stylish mid-century modern inspired lobby / living room areas on the ground floor. With plenty of lounges and chairs, these cozy but spacious areas have been designed to make you feel right at home. The Vitra furniture and contemporary art is amazing. As a fan of mid-century modern, I especially loved the furniture. The front lobby living room areas were adorned with things like Grand Repos wing chairs by Antonio Citterio in a dark grey and Verner Panton’s Heart Shaped chairs in vibrant red, orange, purple and yellow. The two rear living rooms were furnished with large modular sofas, marble coffee tables, flat screen tv’s and a range of arm chairs. Charles & Ray Eames furniture designs feature heavily throughout. Their aluminium chairs await those who use one of the six guest iMac computers, and two comfy Lounge Chair and Ottomans sit side by side in the rear living room corner. Small, iconic LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) Eames chairs in natural, black and red stained wood and calfskin dot around the sofas. Cute Modhaus mid-century modern kids chairs are scattered thorough the living rooms, along with stacked stools for additional seating. Clever use of modern lighting fixtures and chain-like walls are used to separate and distinguish the different areas. Wall to ceiling shelves are adorned with books, clocks, vases, black horse heads, riding boots, birds, white pineapples, Jeff Koons white and red balloon dogs, paintings of soldiers, soldier figurines, red letter boxes, red phone boxes, red double decker buses, cars, elephants, butterflies encased in glass, old books bound by string and all manner of quirky collectables.
The check-in ambassador was right, the cloudM bar on the 7th and 8th floor has stunning views over towards the Tower of London. From this two story L-shaped bar with floor to ceiling windows you can also see the Shard, London City Hall and 20 Fenchurch Street otherwise known as the ‘walkie talkie building’. A massive long balcony runs the length of the building, and provides a 180 degree view from the Tower of London all the way over to a glimpse of the London Eye.
Once again the contemporary art and funky decor continues on this floor. Stunning ‘Andy Warhol x Flavor Paper’ Queen Elizabeth wallpaper wraps around and decorates several internal columns, ironically overlooking the Tower of London. On Sunday the bar was very quiet both during the day and night. The ambassador behind the bar, who had been with the flagship hotel since its opening in July, said the busiest nights were Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I didn’t mind. When visiting during the day I was able to enjoy the balcony views all to myself, and in the evening, a quiet glass of red wine in front of the fire with the artwork ‘Bald Eagle’ by Dominic Harris for company. Well worth a visit, and forgoing a hotel room without a spectacular view.
Buffet style breakfast is served in canteenM from 6.30am until 11am. Guests can choose to purchase any of the assorted breakfast items or pre-purchase the English Breakfast Menu for £13.95 (£15.95 if purchased on the day). The English Breakfast includes items such as plain and chocolate croissants, pain aux raisins, tea / coffee, orange juice, muesli, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, cooked tomato, cheese, bread, jams and fresh fruit. I chose the delicious plain yoghurt, fresh fruit, muesli and a plain croissant, accompanied by a couple of pretty good Americano coffees. Coffee can be made to order as well, and canteenM is open 24/7 for afternoon and late night drinks and snacks. To accommodate the hungry guests who choose to have breakfast in the hotel, there are three large ten-seater communal tables, a scattering of four-seater tables, and numerous two-seater tables near the breakfast bar and living room areas. For those who enjoy reading hard copy news, newspapers are laid out on the coffee tables and include the Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, China Times.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the citizenM Tower of London hotel. For the self-sufficient, confident, technology savvy, minimalist traveller who is looking for affordable luxury in the heart of London, then CitizenM Tower of London hotel should more than meet their requirements. The hotel is conveniently located right next to the Tower Hill tube station with access to the District and Central tube lines. Due to the size of the rooms, the hotel would be most suited to solo travellers, couples, or friends who are happy to share the same bed / room (otherwise booking separate rooms is required as there are no twin bed options). All the citizenM ambassadors that I came into contact with were friendly and helpful. The self-serve check-in and check-out service was easy to use. The ambience of the hotel was funky, contemporary and artsy. If you do your research prior to staying at this hotel and know what to expect from the brand, then you won’t be disappointed. And if at the end of your stay you cannot bear to part with the hotel and citizenM brand, you take a piece of the hotel home with you via their citizenM shop (including things like the bed, bed linen, towels, travel, candles, books, art work and many more). Hopefully this new citizenM London flagship hotel will retain its unique quality, affordable luxury and mobile citizen charm in years to come.
- Room: Rates from £129
- Website: www.citizenm.com/destinations/london
- Address: 40 Trinity Square London EC 3N 4DJ
- Phone: +44 2035194830