Last minute weekend in London ? Yes please. I’ll just check hotel options….instantly, my idea of a quick city break (once travel and eating out is factored in ) turns into a budget normally only applied to a significant birthday or anniversary. Pants! Until you get off the wretched hotel aggregates and look direct, finding Citizen M and its 3 locations in London.
We booked a double room for just such an occasion as we got offered some last-minute tickets for an event at the 02 literally days before and really wanted to go. It was actually my husband who recommended Citizen M as he has used their day-pass work space before and thought I would love the interior. He was spot-on.
We stayed at the Shoreditch Citizen M location, a short walk from Old Street station (5 mins to Shoreditch High Street and about 10 mins to Brick Lane). What a find! The exterior belies the colour-carnival going on inside and the totally hip interiors every which way you look. As I mentioned on my Instagram post, do not take the lift up to reception or you will miss these fabulous lights above the central, circular and utterly touchable staircase.
Citizen M is looking after global travellers and offers style AND affordability. Identifying that most of their guests will not be hunkered inside for 72 hours (like they might want to do in a remote country house bolthole) but out and about indulging their wanderlust is what makes this work so well. Their aim is to connect ‘travellers to big, bouncy beds without emptying their wallets’.
‘Travellers’ not ‘guests’ is an interesting distinction. The latter potentially assumes uniformed staff and formal service where the former may conjur up do-it-yourself, budget-basics vibes. Do not fear! Citizen M has self-check-in, yes, but also very helpful, casually cool and friendly staff. Its not for you if you like having your bag carried to your room and white-glove service. For a genuinely great price however, its amenities are plentiful and thoughtful and so.damn.hip. As they say “Absolutely no trouser presses, bellboys, or stupid pillow chocolates”. Instead they have a laundry room where you can use the iron, 24 hour food and drink cafe and ipads to control every last thing in your room.
We had the most incredible view of London from our wall-to-wall window (with RC blackout blinds to keep you snoozing until you’re ready). The bed was huge and so, so comfortable, though up against the window so someone has to get in first and they better not be getting up during the night). The ipad console next to the bed controls lights, temperature, TV, audio, movies and wifi (all free) and the colour-change lighting on the shower was actually quite fun if a little kitsch.
Clever layout and smart-storage has been applied to keep your kit tucked away whilst you stay – our room wasn’t huge – but frankly, nothing is more wasted on a city visit than paying for a room you’re barely using, other than to sleep and get changed in. Its not a week-long holiday, its weekending and you’re out and about exploring. If you do want to hang about the hotel, there is more than enough space in the public areas at Citizen M. Very hip spaces they are too.
The bar is great, well-stocked and service is round the clock so you can chat until the smallest of hours. The lounge areas feel like someone’s contemporary living room, with egg-style chairs, large squidgy sofas and super cool wall-art. There are more giant windows, more views and the art continues outside with some excellent street-graffiti.
Location-wise Citizen M Shoreditch is excellent. You’re a short walk from Brick Lane; the cool street market, coffee shops and exceptional Indian restaurants. We walked from Old Street station and hung out in Shoreditch High Street for the day; shopping and lunch in Spitalfields Market, a couple of drinks at The Ten Bells (worth a visit, a proper historic London pub with bags of history and incredible tiles) before a quick turnaround and heading out to the 02. Bathrooms have space-saving design but also magical rain-shower heads, which are not to be missed and no nasty, tiny plastic toiletries. Hoo-bloody-rah! instead, large wall-mounted re-fillable bottles of shampoo and body wash (one blend for waking up and one blend for winding down. Nice touch.
The bistro-style cafe (Canteen M) is totally inviting and there are great hot food options at any time – 24/7. Hurrah! Breakfast is a lavish continental or delicious hot options. Such a refreshing change from rubber breakfasts kept under hot-lights at a time nobody wants to be up on a Sunday! Its all rather hip, chilled and the coffee was excellent, which is important. If you dont want to eat in, there are great cafes in the super surrounds of the hotel. You could walk for 3 or 4 mins in any direction and find somewhere insta-worthy!
I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at Citizen M again, it was everything we needed out of an overnight stay in the Capital. Next time I would be keen to try the Bankside for hanging out at Southbank or Tate Modern or the Citizen London Bridge for the views alone ! They have created these hotels ‘especially for mobile citizens – ideal when you have places to go and people to see’ and with everything you need and nothing you don’t. Which has got to be the goal of every modern traveller as we try and move more thoughtfully around this world.
Citizen M Shoreditch – rooms from around £100 for two people. All rooms are the same price.