11 Aug London: Citizen M
I always prefer to stay in boutique hotels or B&Bs if my wallet allows. I’m not saying I will always break my bank but justifying that great hotel design can be our inspirations of designing custom homes for clients, it seems like I can tolerate the extra dollar I spend right? Needless to say it’s also our vacation highlight that I’m looking forward to. Plus there are many non 5 star boutique hotels/B&Bs that could fit my wallet and taste. When we settled with our travel locations, I just knew I had to pick a cool looking hotel in London. However, designer hotels come with a very high price tag that I can’t swallow! My budget would not allow me to choose anyone of them such as Edition Hotel and Bulgari Hotel. Everything in London is Canadian dollar X 2.
I was almost settled with Travelodge but I didn’t quite understand why very basic accommodation would still cost me $240 a night. After months of research from Tripadvisor, Booking.com, some other prestige vacation sites and recommendations from my dear friend Doris, I made a booking at CitizenM Hotel designed by Concrete Architectural Associates. I have noticed this boutique chain hotel about 2 years ago from an architectural design blog. I like the vibe and that’s how it got on my shortlist in the first place . It’s just we often get recommendations to stay on the North side, so with CitizenM’s Southbank location I was not so sure if I made the right decision.
After we landed in Heathrow, we took Underground to Southwark Station and it’s about 10-15mins walk to the hotel. The walk was not bad (no cobblestoned road) but I don’t think it’s possible to make it in 7 mins which the hotel suggests. There won’t be any airport express train that can take you there directly, you can either taxi or like us taking Underground (via 1 connection). Make sure you purchase Oyster Card at the Airport if you opt for public transportation.
Check-in everything was smooth and easy. The lobby area was inviting and cozy, just like our own living room. We spent 4 nights there chilling out, watching World Cup and checking emails. Everything looked exactly the same as the blog feature portraits. The room was very small but we found it’s alright, the bed was king size and super comfortable. All the movies were free to watch and we didn’t even need to use our adaptors to charge electronic devices. The sockets were compatible with North American plugs. There were also some other electronic controlled features incorporated with the in room tablet. Toiletries were basic, too basic where only shampoo, soaps and shower gel were provided. I think that’s something they should improve on. I could somewhat compromise as guests received complimentary cocktails, a nice touch!
Overall I’ll give this hotel 8.5/10. It’s a great hotel in general, I don’t find the location is inconvenient and hotel itself is quite charming. Pricey to me but it’s just the way accommodation in London is.
To give you an idea, a night for double room at Travelodge in Central London would cost £120 and a night at CitizenM was £170. Traditional B&Bs would cost around £120-150. Price is quoted for mid-late June 2014.
Reserve as soon as your dates are confirmed and rebook if price drops later. It’s common that hotel would drop their room price at the last minute to fill up vacancy. Make sure you can cancel your original booking without penalty fee. I have saved £120 for rebooking 3 weeks before our departure and room for my dates was not available to book 1 week before departure. Timing is crucial!
The last question?
Did our hotel stay in CitizenM get our creative juice flowing? As I said Will came up with the crazy idea of re-doing almost the whole house from scratch while sipping his cocktails, I would say so. Needless to say the spiral staircase looks awesome and refreshing, and it’s all made of wood with no glass! That is something we can introduce to clients that you don’t need staircase with glass railings to look contemporary and cool.