i often get emails from readers asking me for recommendations of places to stay when in london, which i always find amusing as being a born-and-bred londoner, i’ve never actually had need to stay in a london hotel before! of course, i’ve been to many a london hotel bar, as well as launch parties of several that have opened over the past few years, but i thought it was high time i checked out (and in to!) a couple of fabulous places to stay in my city.
i think when you come to london it’s best to do one of two things: either block out a good couple of weeks (or even a month!) to truly explore the city and immerse yourself in london culture like a local, or opt for a crazy few days and cram in as many of the sights as you possibly can.
so, with that in mind, i chose two very different accommodation options to review for you guys…
– GO NATIVE HYDE PARK, 208 SUSSEX GARDENS –
208 sussex gardens contains 63 strikingly contemporary apartments within a grade II listed 1840s victorian building, and is the new flagship property of leading serviced apartments company go native.
unlike conventional hotel spaces, all apartments are fully equipped with high-quality kitchen appliances and have been conceived to offer guests the flexibility and comfort of a home with the amenities and luxurious touches of a boutique hotel. guests can choose from studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments in styles that range from the theatrical hollywood-inspired look of the “glitz and glamour” floor to the warm and modern scandinavian decor of the third floor – which i opted for.
my 1-bed apartment was light and airy with warm golden woodgrains combined with soft rich browns and beiges. there was a wonderfully comfortable ligne roset bed and lighting by skandium, louis poulsen and secto, while the bathroom had a fantastically powerful rainfall shower that left me feeling totally blissed out and completely relaxed. i took along a selection of pampering goodies i’d been sent by greek natural cosmetics company apivita and filled the bathroom with the delicious scent of their almond & lavender shower gel and camomile & honey shampoo.
being in my own apartment – as opposed to a hotel room – meant i had the freedom to cook dinner for myself (or order take-out!) as well as feeling much more inclined to just kick-back and wind down in the evening; watching television or catching up on my emails in a “homely” setting. the kitchen was fully equipped with an oven, good-sized fridge plus a dishwasher, and my premium one-bed apartment had it’s own separate dining area with table and chairs, as well as a snug tv nook complete with comfy sofa.
having spent a blissful night in, when dawn broke i was itching to get up and out to explore the local neighbourhood. with hyde park right on my doorstep, i pulled on my new fluoro yellow (they match my blog, see?) nike free trainers from jd sports and headed for london’s great outdoors in the early morning sunshine.
fresh from my run – and in need of coffee! – i set about exploring the streets around the apartment block, referring to a handy little local guide supplied by the apartment. go native hyde park is located in one of london’s most central areas but is surrounded by a handful of independent shopping “villages” which lend a cosy, community feel in this busy city. tucked away behind georgian squares is one of my favourites; connaught village. home to cocomaya, a bakery renowned for their cronuts who also do fantastically tasty cinnamon buns (which i, naturally, indulged in!), you will also find fashion boutiques atelier mayer, viola and me + em.
i only wish i’d been able to enjoy more than a couple of nights at the apartment – i would certainly recommend it as a wonderful base for an extended london vacation; a perfect home from home!
– CITIZENM BANKSIDE, LAVINGTON STREET SE1 –
citizenm in comparison, offers a completely different accommodation experience. i’d been along to the launch party last year and since visited the bar for cocktails with friends, but i was eager to experience the quirky “compact cubicle” rooms for myself, as i’d often recommended the hotel to out-of-town friends. luckily, it didn’t disappoint!
offering “affordable luxury for the people,” all 192 rooms are the same size, with wall-to-wall windows, superking-size beds, space-age rain showers, furniture from vitra, skype-based phones, global plug sockets and complimentary wi-fi and films. all have ambient lighting and a touchscreen tablet which controls the lights, television and music system as well as the blinds and the temperature. the giant bed was super comfy and the selection of movies vast – i almost wanted to spend the whole evening tucked up in my room!
however, the open-plan ground-floor – designed to embody the living room of a well-travelled person – was a major lure, mixing elegance with exuberance and zoned into areas for working and socialising. the bakery-style kitchen is open around the clock, and serves up sandwiches, salads, sushi, warm dishes and beverages, while the adjacent coffee bar morphs into a cocktail bar as day turns to night, pulling in an eclectic crowd of local workers, well-travelled guests and glitzy barflys who mingled happily together, enjoying the relaxed laid-back atmosphere.
i found myself particularly enthralled by the self-styled ‘candy store for book aficionados’ in the lobby run by amsterdam-based bookshop mendo, which is packed with gorgeous coffee table books on photography, architecture, fashion or travel, which can be ordered from the pop-up and sent directly to your home address – isn’t that fabulous?
situated just behind the south bank, the hotel is within walking distance of many of london’s key attractions, from the tate modern and st. paul’s to borough market, which is a absolute must-visit early on a friday morning before the crowds throng.
i’m happy to say i will most definitely continue to recommend citizenm as the perfect affordable london hotel for a whistlestop tour of my city. so, who has plans to visit london in 2014?