The Gantry London hotel review: a work in progress with great potential
This design-led hotel in Stratford looks the part, but its food offering is a bit hit and miss
There is a whiff of excitement and revival in east London’s Stratford. Big, swanky hotels with enviable culinary scenes and grand lobbies are gobbling up available space in the area, a branch of the V&A is due to open soon, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is right on the doorstep and there are fast connections to the centre of the capital. It’s fast becoming a bustling, stylish mini-metropolis with much to discover.
Why come here
The Gantry is one such new hotel making its mark on this part of London. Launched in November 2021, the hotel, which pays tribute to New York’s Flatiron Building, is a new design-led hotel featuring 291 rooms across 17 floors, with a dedicated sparkling bar, an all-day restaurant and an 18th floor sky bar with panoramic views across the city.
The views from the rooms are perhaps the hotel’s biggest selling point, with gorgeous panoramas of London stretching out in front of you in every direction from huge, floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, the interiors have a sort of industrial, modern chic about them – all exposed brick and ceilings, designer lamps, touches of bronze and big mismatched armchairs. Bathrooms have rainfall showers and Grown Alchemist toiletries, although if you want a bath you’ll need to book a suite. Beds are big and comfortable and it’s very easy to have an excellent night’s sleep in this quiet, smart hotel.
The sparkling bar, Coupe, is stunning; a really elegant bar to while away an hour or two before dinner, where guests can choose from some of the UK’s finest fizz from revered estates such as Gusbourne and Rathfinny, and there’s a concise list of sparkling cocktails and spritzes.
At Union Social, the main dining spot, waiters are whipping up confident, exhilarating cocktails – the classics are beautifully concocted and elegantly presented, while the mystical smash with white rum, muju chinotto, basil and fresh lime is truly delicious. The drinks have been created by Walter Pintus, an award-winning mixologist who has been involved in some of London’s finest institutions from The Ritz and The Connaught to The Mandrake and most recently The Conduit.
The food on offer suggests the hotel is still in a nascent stage of its life though, and certainly hasn’t quite reached the dazzling heights of its neighbour, The Stratford’s restaurant Allegra, which is just across the road, and where Irish head chef Patrick Powell, formerly of Chiltern Firehouse, Wild Honey and Dublin’s L’Ecrivain is packing a powerful punch on London’s dining scene.
In contrast, the food at Union Social, the Gantry’s restaurant is a bit hit and miss. The keftedes, Greek-inspired lamb meatballs, with homemade tzatziki, and flat bread is overwhelmingly disappointing, with the meatballs tasting like tough, chewy small burgers. The presentation also leaves much to be desired. It’s the type of main that leaves you wishing you’d opted for something else.
Bizarrely, the slow-cooked Hampshire grass fed beef cheeks with pressed Lyonnaise potatoes is very good indeed – gorgeously meaty and soft, plumply sitting in an exquisite rich red wine jus. The sticky toffee pudding with sweet crumble and vanilla ice cream is good, but once again, the focaccia and charcuterie selection from the small plates menu is surprisingly bad – not unlike something you could pick up from your local supermarket, prise from its plastic and serve up.
Breakfast too is odd – the full breakfast has a distinctly greasy spoon vibe about it, which seems incongruous with the gorgeous surroundings, the avocado on toast and eggs is nothing to write home about.
Having said that, a coffee out on the quiet terrace in the mid-morning sun is a rather lovely treat, and an artisanal food market is due to open later this year – perhaps by then the food on offer will be ready to match its glamorous home.
The Gantry is a work in progress, but it is not without promise and potential.
How to book
Entry level rooms start from £189 room and breakfast in low season and £229 room and breakfast in high season. Suites start from £389 room and breakfast in low season and £429 room and breakfast in high season.
The Gantry London, 40 Celebration Ave, East Village, London E20 1DB; thegantrylondon.com