East To East
Words: Rosie Coxshaw
The Courthouse Hotel
Right in the centre of Shoreditch, The Courthouse Hotel is where the grandeur of an old Grade II-listed magistrates’ court meets the edgy sophistication that Shoreditch has become synonymous with. Retaining many of its original historical features – all with de rigueur modern twists – guests feel so easily transported into another era that it’s not hard to forget that the clamour and bustle of Shoreditch still awaits you in the street outside.
From check-in onward, the staff is attentive, making you feel at ease for the duration of your stay. Rooms are fresh and minimal with contemporary touches and huge beds, and come with all the high tech accoutrements (flat screen TVs, high speed data ports, entertainment systems), as well as a well-stocked minibar. Breakfast is served up in an elegant dining room (don’t eschew the full English breakfast), but the real pièce de résistance is found at Silk, the Asian fusion gastro offering where diners get to scoff and quaff in a classic old wood-panelled courtroom. For those who really need to unwind, the Courthouse is one of only two hotels in the surrounding area that has an indoor pool and spa; undoubtedly there are a few defendants – as well as a smattering of lawyers – who would given their right arm to have sweated it out in a spa back in this historic building’s original heyday.
335 – 337 Old Street, EC1V 9LL
020 3310 5555
New Road Hotel
Arriving at Whitechapel’s newest design hotel represents everything that’s brilliant about London. This heaving city, so full of contradictions, is always incongruous and packed with surprises. And so it is that, post a walk from Whitechapel tube along the bustling main road, with its cheek-by-jowl traditional Bangladeshi clothing stalls, and past – in stark contrast – the astonishing Will Alsop-designed Blizard Building at Queen Mary’s University, we find ourselves crossing the threshold of the brand new New Road Hotel, which fuses an innovative cross between a Manhattan warehouse chic and an East End art installation. The word ‘Service’ hangs above the cocktail bar, tantalisingly visible from reception, the letters themselves rescued from the textiles warehouse that once occupied these walls but closed in the 1970s. Were it not for the couple who bought it, this slice of covetable industrial space might have been carved up as slick but unaffordable apartments. It is thanks to them – and the delivery of an excellent architect alongside fantastic hotel manager, Joost – that the space is open to the community of Whitechapel who come to its Cereal Grind bar to work, and those from further afield.
This art installation impression lasts as one travels through the hotel and into the minimalist bedrooms, which have largely dispensed with the trappings that one would expect from a luxury hotel. No minibar; instead, water and chocolate can be obtained from a ‘snack station’ on the first floor, next to the games room. No phone, either; one sends the concierge a WhatsApp message instead. The bed doubles up as a comfortable sofa, and the design is an eclectic mixture of fifties Americana (a glossy Smeg fridge dominates the meeting room) and none-more-contemporary chic, not least in the views of the City skyline that can be found in the top floor rooms, some of which boast in-room hot tubs and jacuzzis.
This is not the sort of place for people who want to be pampered with room service and walk-in wardrobes, but the relatively affordable – for this part of town – prices reflect the stripped-back luxe approach that is as likely to appeal to artists and creative types as it is to businessmen and bankers. Probably more so, as the ethos here, while not exactly hipster, is one of relaxed, sandals-in-the-cocktail-bar cool (do note the textile strips in the corridors, a stylish nod to the building’s heritage). Speaking of which, cocktails are excellent, and a winning warm up for dinner at the adjoining Marco Pierre White chophouse, which opens out onto a tiled terrace in the summer.
The food represents White doing what he does best: simple classic dishes, hearty portions and excellent ingredients. Crab on wafer-thin toast is light, delicious and just the thing on a summer’s evening, while the lobster macaroni represents the most luxury end of comfort food. And that, in microcosm, encapsulates New Road Hotel: an ultra chic home-from-home. If your home happens to be an absurdly chic former warehouse, that is.
103-107 New Road, Whitechapel, E1 1HJ
Premier Inn Hub
The Hub at Premier Inn is brilliantly situated right in the middle of east London’s energetic Brick Lane. The reception area is open-plan with a self-service check-in, while the restaurant is set at the back with friendly staff on-hand to help.
The rooms clearly take the hotel’s name – the ‘hubs’ – quite literally. There are no fussy interiors here; instead you’ll find a streamlined digital experience at your fingertips, with one-touch room controls, high-spec en-suite bathrooms, pull-out desks and plenty of under-bed storage. These are seriously compact and cleverly designed rooms.
If you are popping to Shoreditch for a quick stay and need somewhere comfortable to rest your head, this hotel hits the nail on the head. It’s the ideal location if you want to be in the heart of east London and a stone’s throw from the thriving gastro and cultural scene that the area has to offer. Although it may not ooze luxury, the location really is one of the best in town – and it’s affordably priced too, with rooms starting from £69 per night.
86 Brick Lane, E1 6RL
0871 527 9588