Montcalm East hotel review: elegance and energy in east London
Newly-opened Shoreditch hotel invites guests to unleash their creativity
Arriving at Old Street on a Friday evening in June the tube is sweaty, the pavements busy, and the cacophonous noise a wonderful reminder that normality is edging back into our lives.
After more than a year of business not quite as usual, revellers are quickly returning to east London’s rooftop bars and world-renowned restaurants - and as they do, calendars are booking up and reservations are getting harder to come by. Summer has become a feat of logistics, and it’s enough to wear any Londoner out.
So this one was more than a little pleased to take refuge for a night at Montcalm East, a pitstop slap-bang in the middle of the action but, true to its name, calm (and very cool). My companion and I meet in front of the familiar diamond-shaped building; its iconic geometric façade is the work of architects Squire & Partners - and it’s the first optical illusion hotel guests will encounter during their stay.
Step inside and things quickly start to come back into focus. Inspiration for the Montcalm Group’s latest addition has been sourced from the local area’s creative history, being as it was a favourite stomping ground for eminent artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Projections and optical lighting provide an understated elegance to the space’s sophisticated design, with stylish sofas and rugs paired with a contemporary curation of artworks. An illuminated walkway provides Instagrammers with a backdrop too good to pass on.
We are treated to a Sky-High room with a view across London, signposted on the left by St Paul’s Cathedral and on the right by the BT Tower. Our 17th-floor room’s outward-facing wall is made up of floor-to-ceiling windows, and we gaze up and across the capital from a perspective that surely few are lucky to experience so intimately - the crowded queues thronging at the base of the Shard are evidently missing a trick.
The location sells itself for a city break in the capital, being just a stone’s throw from Shoreditch and with Angel and Soho only a little further afield. Our agenda is simple: relax, refuel and refresh ourselves for the remainder of our weekend, blocked out with socially-distanced socialising.
Where to relax
In our slippers and gowns, we amble down to the spa for a dip in the dimly-lit swimming pool - before giving up the guise and settling into an environment that comes more naturally to us: the jacuzzi. While coronavirus restrictions remain in place, guests are able to book slots in the spa facilities in order to limit numbers - and the experience, as a result, feels more than a little exclusive.
Post-Covid, guests will enjoy massages and beauty treatments in the secluded spa facilities but for now, these can be experienced from the privacy of one’s room. It’s here too that you can make the most of a sauna and steam room, or cool off in the chill room for a refreshing burst of temperatures that are sure to get you straight back in the jacuzzi…
Where to refuel
After what can only ambitiously be described as a swim, we get ready to hit the town - without even leaving the hotel. Moor & Mead provides Montcalm East’s wining and dining experience, the bar and restaurant spread over two levels overlooking Moorfields Eye Hospital, to which its name pays homage. We settle in for the evening by sampling the house cocktails, a deliciously sharp margarita for me and a classic Aperol Spritz for my companion.
The decadently designed space offers a range of seating options, including curtained-off tables adorned with photos and artworks that speak again to the hotel’s artistic streak. Budding photographers can arrange to enjoy the Photo Lab experience, making use of Montcalm East’s creative studio facilities and photo printing, all with a cocktail in hand, of course. The hotel has also partnered with Ravensbourne University London’s department of photography, offering alumni and students opportunities to exhibit their work.
The evening’s menu then offers a far-ranging feast. Diners can choose from steadfast favourites like sourdough pizza, and vegetarians have tempting pasta and salad options. For us, however, it’s all about the meat and fish. We start with burrata and freshly made flatbreads, and share a soft shell crab slider too. The first is utterly sumptuous, and the second delivers zingy seaside flavours and a satisfying level of crunch.
We then go in different culinary directions. My companion chooses mackerel with roasted beetroot, watercress and horseradish - she assures me it’s well balanced, the punchy horseradish pairing with, rather than overpowering, the delicately cooked fish. I go for miso glazed pork belly, with kimchi and fried rice, a generous portion that delivers on exactly what it promises; big, moreish flavours. We go for wine with our mains, an orange from France and a dry sparkling white from Hampshire. The drinks list is extensive, and Scotch fans won’t be disappointed by the whisky offering.
And finally, refresh
The hotel offers 288 bedrooms, from “Anything-But-Standard” doubles to Sky-High Junior Suites and interconnecting family rooms too.
And if it was delightful by day, our view by night is quite exquisite. Rarely can one feel so in the middle of London’s hustle and bustle while also lying back and taking it in from the comfort of a bed. The Sky-High Double is more than comfortable for two, and the bathroom is almost outrageously generous. Sunlight spills through the similarly room-height window, and the thoughtful touches continue even down to the selected beauty products, sourced from London apothecary anatomē.
How to book
Room rates start from £199 including breakfast. Meeting and event spaces are also available.
Montcalm East, 151-157 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JH; montcalmeast.com