Weekend getaways are a rare treat for us, in fact in all our seven years of parenting, we’ve been away on our own a total of once. Until recently that is, when citizenM invited us to stay for a weekend in Shoreditch.
A once bombed out, run down area of the city, Shoreditch now thrives as a vibrant location for artists and creatives. Street art springs up in the most unexpected places and industrial Victorian architecture jostles with the newly built apartment blocks springing up everywhere. It has a reputation for the hip and happening and although it gets some stick for the 21st Century hipster culture, it’s an area I very much love to spend time in.
Opened only last year and situated in the heart of the uber-creative area of Shoreditch, this hotel is pitched as an affordable, no fuss design hotel to those who want to feel at home amongst iconic designs and ultimate comfort. It is a design lover’s dream, no surprise as the hotel interior was built in collaboration with Vitra. And so, because I’m so generous, I thought I’d put together a 24 hour guide to exploring Shoreditch. If you have longer, say a Friday to Monday situation, then lucky you. There’s some drool worthy independent homeware boutiques, places to while away a few hours with good food and enough Instagram worthy streets to shoot to your heart’s content…
CITIZENM | 6 HOLYWELL LANE, LONDON, EC2A 3ET
Entering through a mysterious automatic door which leaves you wondering “do I go in this way?” and you’re in the lobby, greeted by Verner Panton chairs beneath a sweeping mid-century inspired wooden staircase. Yes. Look up and this is what you’ll see…
If you love a hotel that takes it one step further away from the conventional, then you can trust this Dutch owned chain to do just that. Everything here is hi-tec. Check-in is a refreshing experience where can you do it at your own pace using just a touch screen. Choose the floor and aspect of your room, scan the key card and off you go! Yes, ok, it eliminates the human element of the experience, but depending on what time you’re arriving / what state you’re in and how much you wish to communicate, it can make a real difference!
The hotel is aiming for budget friendly with boutique style and with rooms priced at £139 a night, the design is definitely a plus point. It doesn’t feel budget. Every detail has been carefully considered here, the way in which quirky, British style has been introduced through modern art, literature and graffiti motifs that define the area. The public areas make you want to stay a while, explore what’s on the shelves, listen to a play list at the bar.
There are slouchy sofas to sink into in the communal living area or well lit tables to sit, plug in and work from. One of my all time favourites, the classic black Eames lounger was out in force in the living space, facing a large flat screen built into a dividing wall of shelves. There are books on fashion, art, music. The emphasis here is in the slowing down. Everything is geared towards effortless relaxation, intentional meandering.
Every room, although pretty compact, comes with a wall to wall window with views across the city. I made sure we picked a higher floor on check-in which had views cross BoxPark and beyond – great to watch come alive at night. The presence of an iPad (or Moodpad) which controlled all the tech in the room was less of a frivolity and more of an “oh my God we need one of these at home!” It controlled the blinds, mood lighting and ambience in the room as well as the TV and some really great movies to get you settled in.
The king sized bed, aside from our own, is the comfiest I’ve ever slept it. I tell no lies. Not too soft, not too firm, just right. And waking up with the head I had the next day, it’s just as well (the Orange Biciclettas at Pizza East are impossible to resist). It was nothing a long, hot rain shower couldn’t cure though. That and a long, lazy breakfast downstairs. Now citizenM take their breakfasts very seriously. Every base is covered. You want a full English? No problem. A fresh fruit salad with basil infused syrup? You got it. Whether it’s fresh pastries, toast with Newton and Pott organic jams or just a bloody good coffee, it’s all there. And you can keep going til lunchtime.
ANDINA PICANTERIA & PISCO BAR | 1 Redchurch Street, London, E27DJ
For those looking for a departure from the normal type of fare, Andina is a great start. Immerse yourself in traditional Peruvian street food without too much concern about dietary needs – there are several vegan and gluten free options. Ceviche is popular here, as is the grilled meat and fish. Cocktails are well worth a try and the decor is what you’d expect – a vivd blend of old world Peru with touches of hanging textiles, brightly tiled bar area and modern furniture.
ALBION | 2 – 4 Boundary Street, London, E2 7DD
A classic British menu served in a minimal, industrial setting. Stop by for the artisanal bakery and grocery if you’re planning on taking a few things home for later, or linger for longer over a relaxed meal. Kids eat free on weekends and holidays here too.
FLAT IRON | 77 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3BS
Pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. Flat Iron is so called because it serves the best flat iron steaks in London. Be prepared for big portions at the very reasonable price of £10. This is steak and chips done well. And the interior and plant filled exterior are on point too.
CREAM | 31 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EY
Described as an “ingredient led daytime canteen”, Cream offers organic, market fresh dishes from a new menu each day. Alongside small bites and heartier options, the coffee is also great. Of course, it wouldn’t be on my list without having something offer in the decor department. The fully opening doors, potted plants in every corner and white brick walls were enough to keep me here for very long time.
KENT AND LONDON | 5 Hackney Road, London, E2 7NX
Kent and London is run by craftsman Luke Ellis and Simon Goff, founder of flooring company, Floor_Story. Expect Luke’s ridiculously well made kitchens and furniture painted in a palette to die for. I’m reliably informed that these will be released as part of their exclusive paint collection launching imminently. A considered collection of Simon’s rugs hang from the walls and downstairs is home to just some of his collection. If he doesn’t make it or stock it, they will source it for you, from vintage kelims to designer collaborations. You will also find beautiful cookware such as the incredibly desirable Crane C series pans, rustic ceramics and other kitchen related accoutrements.
MODERN SOCIETY | 33 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ
A store on different levels in more ways than one, Modern Society gives you space to breathe. Sit and have a coffee, browse the carefully curated homewares, gifts and clothing or lose yourself in their exhibition space. I was particularly taken with the bold photography displayed on the grey walls by Berlin based artist Sarah Illenberger. They recently launched their own unisex label too, designed with modern simplicity in mind.
MONOLOGUE | 93 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ
Seeing my favourite chair, the &Tradition ‘Fly’ sitting in the window of Monologue was enough to get me through the door. If contemporary, Scandi design is your bag then this is a must. Expect to find a fresh and rotating selection of up and coming design in this concept store from the likes of Gubi, Jaime Hayon and HAY.
LABOUR AND WAIT | 85 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ
Possibly one of the most instagramed shop fronts in London with its bottle green tiles, Labour and Wait is home to functional, simplistic homewares. Think of well made brushes, linen aprons and gardening tools. You’ll also find vintage items here too, pieces that were made to last and stand the test of time.
Of course, it’s impossible for me to get through everything Shoreditch has to offer over the course of a weekend, it’ll take several more to come even close. With that in mind, I’ve put together a helpful map with a few more suggestions for a great weekend of design.
•This post has been written in collaboration with CitizenM Hotels.
Photography © Tiffany Grant-Riley