“Hey Alex, we’re coming to London, do you know a nice hotel?”
I get this question about 5 times a day from my fellow Belgians, especially with the busy Christmas shopping period coming up. The answer is always the same: what do I know? London is about the one city I never stay in hotel in. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to start exploring the city’s coolest hotels. All in the name of research, of course… It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it…
Last weekend, I stayed at the Malmaison London. You may remember, I reviewed the Liverpool branch of the Malmaison group before, and was so impressed I wanted to check out the London one, which is located in trendy Clerkenwell, one of my favourite areas of London (I happen to live around there, you see). Clerkenwell is not really on the usual tourist path, which is such a shame as it has so much to offer.
The Malmaison London is located on Charterhouse Square, a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Smithfield Market, the history-laden Victorian meat market. As a result, the area around the market has grown into a hotspot of restaurants and bars, making it THE place to be for culinary lovers. World-renowned restaurants like St. John and John Torrode’s Smiths of Smithfield sit in between a plethora of bars, and not to forget, the infamous Fabric nightclub. We decided to test the food (and wine) in the hotel’s brasserie, and were definitely not left disappointed: delicious scallops, perfect steak and a white chocolate cheesecake I still dream about. Breakfast in the morning was – if possible – even better, with an enormous buffet.
I would definitely call this a sexy hotel, ideal for romantic getaways – the interior is dark and sultry, with plush velvet chairs and sofas, there’s a champagne bar in the lobby and even a bottle of massage oil as part of the toiletries. My room overlooked the leafy square, with the moody Barbican centre just behind it. The morning after we decided to explore the Barbican, which I’d always considered an eyesore, but after spending an hour walking around the buildings, I finally understood and fell in love with them.
Another must-do in the area is the brand-new One New Change shopping centre. This has been a little secret of mine for months now, this is where I take people to impress them, but now the cat’s out of the bag: for the best – FREE – view of London take the elevator to the 6th floor and you’ll understand: with St. Paul’s Cathedral literally metres away and a view stretching from the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament to the brand new Shard building on the other side, it’s spectacular. Seriously spectacular. And now the cafe has finally opened, you can sip a coffee whilst enjoying the view.
The Malmaison London might not be in the usual tourist areas, but it’s perfectly located for sightseeing, eating and drinking, and shopping! With the central line just minutes away, you’re a short (13 min) ride away from the brand new Westfield Stratford and Olympic site. If you haven’t heard of the area before, it’s definitely worth considering. Foodies and architecture lovers will feel right at home!
18-21 Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6AH