citizenM refines the concept of the boutique hotel with its latest bastion of style in Tower Hill, London. Let's groove tonight...
BY DEE IVA
The imminent relocation of the Design Museum from Shad Thames to leafy Kensington has rung alarm bells at the Fizz. For 27 years it was East London's temple of modern design, in stark contrast to its historic dockyard surroundings and the grandeur of the Tower of London. When its doors closed on 30 June we thought that part of London might be crossed off the design trail for good.
Now a new design hotspot has opened a stone's throw from the old Design Museum site. Dutch hotel brand citizenM has taken up residence in Tower Hill, bringing its signature mix of design showroom/chillax zone to East London with the launch of citizenM Tower of London. The hipster vibe of its sister hotel, citizenM Bankside, has travelled well to the other side of the Thames but has been tweaked with a dash of BritPop street style.
ABOVE: The Living Room mixes iconic British emblems with sleek leather banquettes and dark shelving
ABOVE RIGHT: The neo Brutalist glass and limestone exterior of citizenM Tower Hill
BELOW: Double height windows look out on to some of London's most iconic buildings
ABOVE: Post-punk images of the Queen reflect the wry British sense of humour
The hotel's Brutalist exterior gives no clue as to what lies inside. Echoes of Sex Pistols' designer Jamie Reid are present in graphic illustrations of the Queen which adorn the walls of the communal areas, while cushions bearing Union Jacks, Welsh dragons and the Scottish flag sit proudly in the Living Room. In the post-Brexit climate this could easily be mistaken for nationalist pomp and circumstance, but in the hands of citizenM's Amsterdam-based design team Concrete it's nothing of the kind as these recognisable elements of British design are mixed with vibrant coloured 'Cone' chairs by Verner Panton for Vitra and George Nelson's classic 'Bubble' lamps. Julian Opie's distinctive line artworks featuring his signature flat colours and black outlines will also be familiar to BritPop fans (Opie created the album artwork of 'Blur: The Best Of' in 2000).
BELOW: Verner Panton chairs and George Nelson lights bring a touch of retro-classicism to citizenM; Julian Opie's paintings may not be for sale but you can snap up contemporary pieces from collectionM, a curated collection of accessories, books, and art and design objects; Communal tables, iMacs and printers are available if you need to be in work mode
Foodies are well catered for with coffeeM, where you can down a macchiato and a pastry on your way in or out of the hotel, and canteenM, a round-the-clock open kitchen which serves tasty treats from carrot cakes to curries and a wide selection of cocktails. Lovers of the London skyline should head straight to cloudM, the double-height rooftop bar which offers spectacular views of the Tower of London, The Shard, The Gherkin and the controversial 'Walkie-Talkie'.
BELOW: canteenM serves a wide selection of hot food and cool cocktails around the clock
Thankfully, the 370 bedrooms at citizenM are tranquil sanctuaries, away from the visual razzmatazz of the public areas. Extra large beds, rainshowers and lush toiletries designed by Commes des Garçons, Viktor&Rolf and Helmut Lang are installed in all rooms and mood tablets allow you to control the lighting, blinds and room temperature from under your duvet. Seriously, if this isn't the coolest hotel in old London town we don't know what is. And with a new 216-room sister hotel just launched in Shoreditch, we reckon we'll all be applying for citizenship...