BEFORE SHOREDITCH, WE GO INSIDE THE NEW CITIZENM TOWER OF LONDON
One big step in getting there was taken last month when its flagship Tower of London hotel opened, adding 370 modular rooms, ground floor public spaces, as well as 8th floor cloudM bar, SocietyM meeting rooms and wrap-around roof terrace. Built on top of Tower Hill tube station, we hopped on the District Line to have a look inside.
Clad in limestone and without the bright red M on the façade to blend in with surrounding architecture, citizenM Tower of London sits across a small park from the still in progress Four Seasons at Trinity Square, in a little pocket of hotels that between the two is getting a significant boost this year.
Walking through the door, the ground floor public spaces are filled with the usual gorgeous Vitra furniture. Various lounge areas and work stations are dotted around. Besides canteenM and its open kitchen, there is the new coffeeM coffee shop concept immediately to your right after the entrance. New as well is collectionM, a selection of travel accessories, art, books and design objects that you can buy on the spot, online, or have shipped home.
Contemporary art is everywhere: try your hand at the interactive digital work from Dominic Harris while you take care of checking into your room at the mobile stations. A mural from Julian Opie wrapping around the ground floor exterior is in progress.
The rooms will be familiar to anyone who knows citizenM, with a few minor tweaks here and there. The XL King Size bed frames picture perfect views of Tower of London, Tower Bridge and / or the Shard (make sure you request an exterior-facing room for the right views). A tablet controls everything from mood lighting, complete with a touchpad colour palette to play with, to blinds and content on the flatscreen TV. A curtain separates the bedroom area from the vanity and the enclosed shower / toilet. Hidden behind smoke glass as it may be, we do wish that all hotel rooms – no matter their size – would come with bathroom doors that fully close. No gap at the bottom, no gap at the top, and some extra soundproofing thrown in for good measure.
Should you end up in a room facing the atrium, you will have first row seats to the kinetic light installation from Dutch design duo Studio Drift, with fabric-covered lamps zooming past the windows continuously.
Upstairs, cloudM bar takes full advantage of double-height windows to let the light and views of the surrounding area and landmarks in. Heritage and royal houses collide with Warhol wallpaper of Queen Elizabeth framing a real Warhol portrait of (now) Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands.
SocietyM meeting rooms are about as far away as you can get from the stereotypical windowless basement boardroom, with contemporary furniture, blackboard / whiteboard walls, vintage objets, and staggering views of the city, even on a somewhat gloomy summer day.
While the fourth London property, at Holborn / St. Paul, will still be a while (demolition of the existing building has yet to start), citizenM is wasting no time moving on to its third, with Shoreditch opening early September. Part of the Shoreditch Village development, it will have 216 rooms and – probably particularly welcome here – food and drink 24 hours a day in canteenM.
Plans beyond London call for a second New York property (in the Bowery) and everything from Seattle to Shanghai and Taipei to further expansion in Paris.
[Photos: citizenM, Paul J DeVries]