[Advertisement – my stay at The Stratford Hotel was complimentary in exchange for this review]
To coincide with the London Design Festival, each September for the last three years I’ve made it a tradition to test out new London hotels with my friend and fellow blogger Hege In France. She’ll fly down from Glasgow, we’ll spend a couple of days soaking up the festival and review a place to stay whilst we catch up. And I’ve been waiting what feels like an absolute age to share this absolute stunner of a London design hotel with you…
Meet The Stratford. Having watched this 42 storey, terracotta clad structure rise from nothing just outside Stratford International Station, I have been itching to get inside it.
Following the 2012 London Olympics, Stratford has grown up at an astonishing rate, with 560 acres of waterways around the buzzing East Village, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its best kept secret – the Great British Garden. A stone’s throw from the hotel stands Westfield Shopping Centre, a sprawling metropolis in its own right and the area as a whole feels very open and full of possibility. At the time of writing, construction is underway for a new arm of the V&A Museum, Sadler’s Wells and Madison Square Gardens. Stratford’s where it’s at, people.
Launched in May 2019, the interiors of The Stratford were left in the capable hands of Danish design duo Space Copenhagen. A multi-disciplinary studio, their work spans furniture, residential and commercial spaces. Having designed collections for some of Denmark’s design royalty including Fredericia Furniture, GUBI, Mater and Georg Jensen, you learn to recognise their signature style a mile off. In fact, if you’ve a keen eye, you’ll spot several of their collaborations with these brands throughout the hotel. Known for their use of minimal, organic shapes, honest materials and their unmistakably Nordic approach to creating spaces, this is the place to go for a modern Scandinavian experience.
The Stratford is a completely new build challenging the concept of the traditional hotel. With a combination of hotel and Loft apartments, a restaurant and communal sky gardens, the building encourages guests and residents to interact within its public spaces.
The first seven floors are dedicated to the hotel, announcing a triple height lobby on the ground floor. The interiors are a blend of soft textured walls, inlaid brushed brass detailing and warm wood. Polished marble repeats itself through table tops up to the bar and your eye is drawn towards a curved balcony belonging to the Mezzanine bar above. A large scale art installation, ‘Murmuration’, created by Paul Cocksedge connects the two spaces together.
A cosy Lounge Bar sits to your left, furnished with marble-topped Gubi Moon lounge tables and sink-into chairs. The space is ideal to kick back over coffee for an afternoon meeting, or perhaps a starting point for cocktails in the evening. A large fireplace looks set to draw everyone in during the colder months.
To your right is the all-day Brasserie with open kitchen and view across the entire lobby. It is an utterly gorgeous space. The bespoke wood and leather benches lining the edges of the room present a more mature side of New Nordic design. Pared with classic bentwood Thonet chairs, it’s a sophisticated interpretation of European brasserie style. Light is diffused through full height windows by raw linen curtains, picking up the texture in the walls. And there’s touches of craft here that elevate your experience, like the beautiful matte ceramic mugs and plates, designed by British ceramist Sue Pryke. Of course, what’s really important here is the food, which comes in generous portions. I can highly recommend the coffee and Eggs Royale, of which the hollandaise sauce was perfection.
The bedrooms are the epitome of modern minimalist style, each bearing the unmistakeable marks of Space Copenhagen’s aesthetic. From the soft, organic curves in the bed frame and mirrors, to the contrast of light and dark materials. When the sun faced West towards the early evening, striking shadows hitting the pale mushroom walls and crisp, white bedding.
Our Standard Room (starting from £175 a night) was based on a tonal grey scheme and felt restful and cocooning with a thick pile carpet under foot. There’s a small wall to wall console with a Gubi Gravity table lamp. The Queen or King size beds are nicely styled with blankets from Society Limonata and the bathroom comes with organic REN toiletries. Hanging storage, drawers and a small Dualit coffee machine are hidden by floor to ceiling push door wardrobes as you enter the room.
Additional rooms range from a Double Double (with two Queens for sharing with friends and family) all the way up to a Stratford Studio and the mother of them all – the Manhattan Studio (starting at £515 a night based on two adults).
We were lucky to have tour of the The Stratford Lofts which make up the 35 floors above the hotel. Comprised of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, the interiors were designed by Paris based Studio KO.
Each loft has a different feel, some with a more polished, warm interior and others like the one pictured which feature the steel structure of the building itself. I loved this pared back, industrial kitchen living space where the concrete structure is left exposed to show the workings in the architecture. Of course, the real scene stealer is the completely unobstructed view across London from each room, thanks to the floor to ceiling windows. A view that would be impossible to ever tire of.
Because the building was designed to encourage community, there are no private balconies. Spread across three floors, The Sky Gardens are accessible to the residents of the lofts. Each garden has a different layout, each with warm wood cladding and raised planters. Designed for relaxation, they include semi-sheltered areas for cooking and relaxing with Japanese inspired planting.
The Stratford Lofts are available to rent for short and long terms stays with the smaller residencies starting from £2,300 pcm.
The new Allegra restaurant was gearing up for its official launch during our visit and I can’t wait to come back and sample the menu. Featuring a central bar, a semi-private dining space and outdoor tables overlooking the Olympic park, it oozes elegance. Promising a blend of high-end dining with a focusing on honest, seasonal ingredients, the restaurant is headed up by Head Chef Patrick Powell, formerly of The Chiltern Firehouse.
As a new landmark, it’s still early days for The Stratford. It will need some time to grow into itself and discover its identity, but I love the ethos of community it carries forward. Different areas to meet, to experience, to gather. Space to breathe.
Photography © Tiffany Grant-Riley.