It takes a brave man to open a five-star design hotel on the Bethnal Green Road. But fresh from a couple of bold revamps of the New Majestic and Hotel 1929 in his native Singapore, lawyer and ‘accidental hotelier’ Loh Lik Peng, clearly wasn’t going to let The Town Hall Hotel daunt him. Because the Town Hall isn’t really a hotel at all. It’s more like a pet design/restoration project with guest rooms.
Of the rooms: no two are the same, but all are stark, clean-lined spaces, decorated with some impressive pieces of furniture (largely of a 50s, Scandinavian style). Many have cleverly designed kitchenettes, while the bathrooms – white-on-white with a touch of gleaming chrome – are absolutely gorgeous. The 220 square-metre De Montfort Suite (once the original Edwardian Council Chamber) is one of the most impressive in London – a mix of original features like ornate plasterwork and stained glass, with cutting-edge high design.
Layout-wise, though, it’s a bit hamstrung. The building is long and thin, with the bar and restaurant at the front with the reception and swimming pool at the back, while the rooms run off long corridors in between. Hearing your shoes echo as you walk down the long corridors late at night can be a little eerie. But the Town Hall does so many other things right – Nuno Mendes’ weird and wonderful creations in restaurant, Viajante, the cool little cocktail bar and the gorgeous design-led rooms – that it seems a bit mean-spirited to quibble.
- The mix of cutting-edge design and original Art Deco features
- The cooler-than-cool East End location
- The sensational cooking going on in Viajante
- Kicking back over a seriously well mixed cocktail in the intimate little bar
- The free WiFi
- The marble staircase in reception: tailor-made for dramatic, swirling descents
- The long creepy walks to your room
- There are one or two curious touches (like the antique dentist’s chairs that adorn the corridors)
Need to Know: The Town Hall Hotel
Number of rooms: 98
Check-in/check-out times: 2pm and 12noon
Room service: No
Swimming pool: Yes. There’s a 14m swimming pool down in the basement
Spa: No. But in-room treatments can be arranged
Dogs welcome: No
Eating and drinking: Head chef Nuno Mendes has wandered the globe in search of the best flavours and dishes and working in several of the finest restaurants. His restaurant, London foodie favourite Viajante, offers a series of tasting menus: 3 Courses: £28; 6 Courses: £50; 9 Courses: £70. The bar offers a high-quality wine list and an impressive array of cocktails.
Near to? Columbia Road and Brick Lane/Spitalfields are all within walking distance.
Getting there: Bethnal Green underground tube station is a two-minute walk away. The nearest mainline station is Euston, a 15-minute taxi ride from the hotel. A taxi to Heathrow airport from the hotel will take around 50 minutes (but it's best to allow longer in rush hour).