A Shoreditch Staycation
Just before Christmas R and I did something we've never done before - spent a night away in our own city. And we both agreed that it was one of the most relaxing little holidays we had ever had. We stayed at citizenM's Shoreditch hotel which is nestled just off Shoreditch High Street and perfectly located for all of the hustle of Shoreditch and London's East End.
We checked in on a Friday evening after work and spent a gentle hour unwinding and getting ready to go out, and having a good fiddle with the room's iPad, through which you can control the lights, blinds, ambience, TV and alarm clock. The rooms are not huge, but they are so cleverly designed that nothing feels cramped and each one comes with a huge king size bed that takes up the entire end of the room (so ingenious), mountains of crisp white linen, a flat screen TV and a petite but well arranged wet room with waterfall shower.
Undoubtedly the best bit about the room for me however, was the wall to wall picture window with its grey urban view of Shoreditch and the City beyond. I loved lying in bed underneath the twinkling lights of the city's skyscrapers and apartment blocks, while the East London line rumbled past silently below at regular intervals (extremely impressive double glazing).
After a freshen up we headed out for cocktails and dinner at Dishoom, which was a five minute stroll from the hotel. It was at this point that we started to understand the perks of a staycation: you know where you are and how to get places, you've already sussed out the best eating and drinking options in town, and you're not in the least bit tired or jet-lagged as you haven't had to travel miles to get there. There's no pressure to track down the most authentic hole in the wall that only the locals know about, you don't have to scour the guide book, and there's no need to tackle the bizarre idiosyncrasies of a foreign transport system to get from A to B. All in all, it's really relaxing. Who knew?!
I had planned to document our meal but it turns out I was far too busy stuffing my face with all manner of delicious things to find time to do that. I got as far as the cocktails (above) before giving up. Trust me though, it was GOOD.
After eating as much as we could humanly manage, we briefly floated the idea (mainly for appearances' sake) of going on somewhere else for more drinks before agreeing unanimously on returning to the hotel, getting into bed and watching a film (handily the hotel has a range of on-demand movies). Which is exactly what we did (and it was an excellent idea).
The next morning we woke high up in the clouds, surrounded by a thick and atmospheric London fog which clung damply throughout the whole day. We ambled downstairs for breakfast and to explore the hotel's communal areas.
The lobby, breakfast room, bar and living rooms are all spacious and comfortable, punctuated with quirky design touches and interesting objects. I particularly liked the collection of George Nelson bubble lights which hangs above the stairwell, the iconic Vitra furniture and the big communal breakfast tables strewn with newspapers and magazines. The hotel has a wonderfully informal, lighthearted feel to it, which makes it instantly likeable, and the staff are incredibly warm and friendly to match.
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast accompanied by the Saturday papers, making sure to sample as many of the lovely breakfast options as possible. The mini bagels from Brick Lane with smoked salmon and cream cheese were a highlight.
And after one more cup of coffee we checked out and headed off into the freezing fog for a spot of Christmas shopping.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at citizenM, and left feeling refreshed and relaxed, not to mention total converts to the concept of the staycation. I think the hotel's aim to create affordable luxury and focus on the important bits of a hotel stay (while cutting out the non-essential) really works. I like the fact that all of the rooms are the same and that everything has been so carefully thought out and configured. The Dutch chain has two more hotels in London - at Bankside and the Tower of London, and also hotels in Glasgow, Amsterdam, Paris, New York and Rotterdam. I would have no hesitation in recommending citizenM to visitors to London or indeed returning for another stay of my own!
This post was written in collaboration with citizenM but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
On the topic of staycations, have you every taken one? Do you have any tips or ideas on what makes a successful one? I'd love to hear them if so!