It’s been rather fun being in a tourist in the city I used to call home. I’ve only been away from London for 4 months but already I feel like I am seeing it with fresh eyes. Aside from eating and learning about things that were under my nose for many years, I’ve also had the chance to stay in some of the city’s stylish properties for the very first time. As I had a couple of meetings and events in Shoreditch last week I checked myself into the quirky Qbic Hotel London City.
Qbic Hotel London City is found within a restyled and repurposed inconspicuous-looking building near Aldgate East station – from the outside you may never guess that trendy and functional hotel rooms hide inside.
Immediately upon entering the hotel, however, you know you are staying somewhere a bit different. Sculptures made from recycled goods frame the doorway and there is no official check in desk – just a smiling member of staff standing next to a computer. It took a grand total of 2 minutes for me to be checked into my room and directed towards the lift decorated with uplifting messages.
Each room at the Qbic is a custom made cube containing everything you need for a comfortable city stay – no more and no less. I opted for a ‘Fun Room’, which is a large double (20m² or larger) with windows (the cheaper ‘Smart Rooms’ come without natural light). The room’s décor takes inspiration (and is largely sourced) from the surrounding neighbourhood. The hero item in the room is the headboard – each room varies but mine was a canvas of a street artist at work, which I loved (obviously).
There are a couple of other quirky items of furniture dispersed throughout the room – a repurposed hose pipe becomes a lamp and wooden ladder makes up the vanity area. Both items bear the name of local talent Sander Bokkinga who was commissioned by Qbic to make these bespoke pieces.
The mattresses were made in the UK too. Naturalmat, a Devon-based company, hand make the mattresses with organic lambs wool, which pretty much ensures you have a good nights sleep. The bed unit (or cubi), which centres the room, is a smartly constructed console with shelves, power points, flat screen TV and light controls all built in (and within easy reach so you don’t have to climb back out of bed when you realise you have left a light on!).
The bathroom, which backs onto the bed, forms part of the compact custom built unit and includes a power shower, shower gel, hair dryer and nothing else surplus to requirements. The final piece of the bedroom’s contents are a desk and table, there is no wardrobe but there are hooks and hangars to hang items on. There is free and fast Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, which I found reliable, whatever the time of day.
The ground floor communal lounge is a cool place to work, you’re even invited to leave a doodle on the wall. A mixture of guests making use of the free hot drinks and local creatives holding meetings were spread across the seating areas during my stay. There is no restaurant on site at the moment as it is still under construction but there a number of great breakfast options on the hotel’s doorstep. Staff have business cards prepared to hand out to peckish guests but I headed to nearby Exmouth Coffee, which is a long-time favourite café of mine.
Location wise, this hotel is perfect for anyone either on business in the City of London or looking to exploring more of the street art, shopping and cuisine of the East End at their leisure. Brick Lane, Old Spitalfields Market, the Truman Brewery and more are all within easy walking distance. The hotel is equidistant between two Underground stations (I travelled via Aldgate East but you can also walk to Whitechapel) and there is a bus stop outside which takes you to Oxford Circus. For those who are not familiar with the area it is worth mentioning that this part of London is still rather ‘gritty’, the park opposite the hotel appeared to be a popular drinking spot. I caught a cab to the door on the night I was out late alone and couldn’t hear any outside noise once inside my room.
Overall the Qbic offers a comfortable, chic stay that doesn’t cost the earth. And that’s not something you find very often in London!
Rooms at Qbic Hotel London City start from £69 per night for a Smart Room and from £94 per night for a Fun Room. I received a media rate in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.