It was only a matter of time before Whitechapel got its own upmarket hostelry once hip hotel brands Ace and Nobu had helped gentrify neighbouring Shoreditch.
Now Hyatt Place London City East aims to show Whitechapel can offer something more – a world-class art museum on its doorstep and thrilling City skyline views
Those views are what will draw the crowds through the unprepossessing entrance of a former high street office building whose conversion to a 280-room hotel has used a multi-million-pound three-storey addition to build 13 which boast expansive balconies or terraces, not to mention a delightful indoor-outdoor rooftop bar, Pocketsquare, designed to become an East London drink and dine destination.
Your visit to central London’s first Hyatt Place starts in the basement, however; with a ground floor not wide enough for a reception desk, bright colours and graphics draw the eye down to a buzzy subterranean lobby where a warm welcome is assured. Lifts make descent easy for those bearing luggage, keys are coded at reception to ensure only residents can ascend to room floors and from the get-go, visitors are greeted by murals paying homage to the street art for which East London is famous.
There’s good reason why a balcony doubles the highly affordable rate for a bedroom in such a central location. The generous outdoor space overlooking iconic buildings including the Gherkin instantly converted my 8th-floor bedroom to a suite – the step-up terrace with its outdoor sofa-bench, frosted glass privacy walls and superb skyline vistas made an outdoor living room I could have spent hours enjoying with my demi-tasse of Nespresso.
However, even standard rooms are provided with living space by a chain that believes every guest deserves proper furniture to sit on while reading or watching one of their large-screen TVs. Beds are super-comfortable with high-quality linens, and bath towels must be the largest and fluffiest ever seen in a four, rather than five-star, hotel, although rooms of this calibre call for rainfall shower-heads they don’t yet have.
The quality of food and cooking in the pared-down, slightly rudimentary-feeling Zoom restaurant in the basement way exceeded expectations. Perfect eggs Florentine, complete with super-fresh spinach, excellent Hollandaise and the runny yolks requested, were on offer for breakfast, and an excellent ribeye steak came with very good chips and properly made Bearnaise sauce.
Vegetarian alternatives included Halloumi burgers and roast cauliflower, but residents may well prefer the buzz, sounds and comfortable lounge seating of Pocketsquare on the roof. Here, locally-themed signature cocktails will be served alongside small sharing plates, but in advance of the opening menu being available I was served an authentic margarita 5,000 miles from Mexico and enough excellent salted almonds and Nocellara olives to make a meal of.
There’s a 24-hour gym and weights, but there’s so much to see and do outside. Culture vultures will love London’s iconic Whitechapel Gallery, a five-minute stroll away, and even closer is Brick Lane, an equally iconic thoroughfare of East London coolth. Walk the whole length to enjoy world-class street art, alternative designer boutiques, a plethora of Indian restaurants and more eclectic gourmet treats like the Dark Sugars chocolate emporium and Beigel Bake, offering bagels, cheesecake, strudel and salt beef sandwiches to die for 24/7. From here it’s only a 10-minute walk back to Whitechapel and the hotel which offers the best overnight value in London E1.
Tell Me More About Hyatt Place London City East
Hyatt Place London City East, 45 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1DU
T: 020 8159 1234
From £82 for a standard room and from £170.50 for rooms with a balcony.