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Review: citizenM Tower of London – what are citizenM hotels like?

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This is our review of the citizenM hotel at the Tower of London.

For those who haven’t heard of the citizenM hotel brand, they are ‘affordable luxury hotels’ that hail from the Netherlands. The first citizenM opened at Amsterdam Schipol Airport in 2008 and have expanded globally since then. There are currently 21 hotels.

Whilst citizenM isn’t linked to any global chain and does not have any airline partnerships, it does seem to resonate with some HfP readers. Whenever we write about sale deals they prove popular and we covered citizenM New York in our ‘My Favourite Hotels’ series last year.

We thought it was about time we took a look at citizenM for ourselves. The Tower of London site offered us a room for the night to try it out.

citizenM logo

citizenM is probably also what inspired Marriott to launch the trendy-but-budget Moxy brand in 2013. Both brands feature compact rooms but with large, trendy public spaces where you can relax or work. Neither Rob nor myself had ever stayed at one, so I was intrigued to see what it would be like.

The hotel website is here.

Location

CitizenM now has three hotels in London – Bankside, Shoreditch and Tower of London. The Tower hotel is the only hotel purpose-built for citizenM and is therefore the ‘purest’ vision in terms of what a citizenM hotel should be. It opened in 2016.

citizenM Tower of London

The location of the hotel is fantastic. It is right above one of the exits for Tower Hill tube station – you literally just walk a couple of paces around the exit and there it is. It is opposite Four Seasons Trinity Square, which is around five times the price.

citizenM Tower of London location

As you enter you are welcomed with a number of loosely separated ‘rooms’ in the lobby, all richly decorated with antiques and memorabilia – a lot of it London-red themed.

citizenM Tower of London lobby

and

citizenM Tower of London lobby decor

There is also a publicly accessible coffee shop called coffeeM, although this wasn’t running whilst I was there pre-19th July.

In the centre of the lobby you’ll find the check-in zone:

citizenM Tower of London check in

Part of citizenM’s unique selling point is its self-check-in kiosks, which are situated on several round desks. You either scan your QR code your enter your booking reference before creating your own keycard:

citizenM Tower of London check in kiosk

There are always one or two members of staff around to help if you encounter a problem. I wasn’t able to check in via the desks (probably because this was a complimentary booking) and was assisted immediately by the staff.

Next to the kiosks you’ll also find a little citizenM shop selling a variety of citizenM memorabia such as hotel-inspired enamel pins or some of the decor featured in rooms:

citizenM Tower of London shop

Behind the kiosks you’ll also find the 24/7 canteenM restaurant/cafe/bar (this is also where breakfast is served) as well as a little mini-market and lots of space designed for hot desking:

citizenM Tower of London hotdesking

Rooms at the citizenM Tower of London

citizenM Tower of London has 370 rooms. They are all exactly the same, including the 14 square metre footprint. The only difference is what floor you are on and what view you get.

I was given one of the better rooms on a high floor with views of the Tower of London. I’m not sure how many rooms get this view – the vast majority will have views in other directions or towards the internal courtyard.

Finding my room in the first place was a little difficult as I found the signage for the room numbers a little sparse!

citizenM Tower of London corridor

This is what you see when you first enter:

citizenM Tower of London room entrance

Immediately to your left is an open wardrobe with safe and (Rob will be very pleased!) stealable hangars:

This is followed by a cubicle with toilet and shower wet room (although you do get a curtain and a ledge on the floor):

citizenM Tower of London toilet wet room

The wall to the shower is frosted glass, which means that it glows when the light is on (more on that later) and creates a lovely atmosphere. Annoyingly I didn’t get a photo of the outside.

Toiletries are citizenM branded, and instead of providing shower gel, shampoo conditioner you instead get two all-in-one products: one for the morning and one for the evening. I really enjoyed the morning one in particular:

citizenM Tower of London morning evening toiletries

Back in the room and you find a small sink, mirror, empty mini fridge, hair dryer and towels:

citizenM Tower of London sink

Beyond this is the room proper, including a large king size bed tucked into the end:

citizenM Tower of London bed

As you can see you get a small side table and chair as well as a narrow desk:

citizenM Tower of London desk

The view from the room was exceptional – I imagine better than the views you get from Four Seasons Trinity Square.

citizenM Tower of London view

citizenM smart rooms

What makes citizenM pretty unique as a brand is that it has gone all-in on the smart room trend. You can control everything either from the citizenM app on your phone or from the dedicated iPad Mini in the room.

citizenM Tower of London iPad

This is great fun – you can change the colour of the light in the shower, for example, or the intensity of lights throughout the room.

citizenM Tower of London room controls

You can also lower and raise the black out blind or net curtain.

Even better, the room also comes with a wide range of films you can watch for free on the TV, airplane-style:

citizenM Tower of London film selection

I was genuinely impressed with the range on offer, which included lots of blockbusters from the past few years such as 1917, a variety of Marvel, Disney, DC etc. I ended up watching Booksmart, which was very entertaining.

(You may also notice the ‘Adult’ tab in the image above. I’ll let you work out what this is – suffice to say there are some hilariously entertaining titles in that section ….)

CloudM rooftop bar

On the 7th floor of the hotel you’ll also find the cloudM rooftop bar. This is split into two levels, a main and a mezzanine, and again offers a variety of spaces or open-plan rooms depending on what you prefer.

citizenM Tower of London cloudM mezzanine

and

citizenM Tower of London cloudM

There is also a large balcony with exceptional views across to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and even the Shard:

citizenM Tower of London views

…. which I would have made better use of had London not experienced a deluge.

You can order drinks and small bites from the app or via the staff who are milling about. I tried the bao small bits:

…. as well as meatballs:

citizenM Tower of London meatballs

If you want a ‘proper’ meal then you have to head down to canteenM in the lobby. A number of dishes are available including Thai Red Curry, Thai Prawn Noodles and Pasta al Forno:

citizenM Tower of London canteenM food

These are priced between £13 and £18. Although you do get big portions they are effectively more like microwave ready meals than a freshly prepared restaurant meal, which makes them a little pricey.

Breakfast at citizenM

Breakfast at citizenM Tower of London is £12.50 per person. You get a tray with a few items such as a selection of breads and pastries, marmalade/jam etc which you can then top up from items at canteenM:

citizenM Tower of London breakfast buffet

The only cooked item available is a little egg-bacon-omelette thing or the veggie alternative:

citizenM Tower of London egg breakfast

This was my tray once I’d had a snoop round all the options:

citizenM Tower of London breakfast

The breakfast clearly isn’t a hotel buffet to shout home about but it does the job and is quick and easy if you’re in a rush and don’t want to spend the morning at a local cafe.

Conclusion

I was very impressed with what I saw at the citizenM Tower of London. Having now stayed at both Moxy and citizenM hotels I can confidently say that citizenM is slightly better.

I was very impressed with the smart room features as well as the selection of films you can watch on demand for free. Whilst the room is stripped down to the bare minimum when it comes to amenities – no tea or coffee for example – it delivers all the essentials very well.

The cloudM rooftop bar also offers another reason to stay here and a great place to enjoy a London sunset (weather permitting!) Whilst the food won’t be winning any awards, you have plenty of options in the area or just a short walk across the river in the More London or Butler’s Wharf areas, including an Ivy Brasserie. St Katherine Docks is also just seconds away, with its range of dockside bars and restaurants.

Rooms are available from £84 if you are a mycitizenM member, which nets you a 10% discount across all bookings. You can book here.

Thanks to the citizenM team for arranging my stay.


Hotel offers update – September 2021:

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Want to buy hotel points? There are currently special offers running with Marriott Bonvoy (‘mystery’ 45% or 50% bonus to 25th September), Hilton Honors (100% bonus to 30th September), IHG Rewards (‘mystery’ bonus, usually 100%, to 8th October) and World of Hyatt (30% bonus to 31st October).

Comments (66)

  • jj says:

    I’ve stayed in this hotel many times on business as the location is great, everything is adequate, and they often have last-minute availability. I would never stay there for a pleasure visit, though.

    My complaints are: the rooms are too small for a couple to have a relaxing time; the chatty theming with uplifting messages everywhere gets really tiring after a while; I find the decor pretty cheesy; the reception and breakfast areas are busy and noisy; and the place is pretty impersonal. Having said that, I prefer the CM to of the other City chain hotels.

    In my experience, you can do so much better by looking for a boutique hotel. My personal favourite in that end of town is Batty Langley’s – but it’s so small that it rarely has enough rooms free for a group of colleagues travelling together.

    • jj says:

      A couple of other points that I missed earlier: there’s no decent desk space in the room so I end up having to use my laptop lying on the bed (so a good excuse to leave it switched off); and I have never managed to get the self-service check-in to work, possibly because I have never booked the room myself so there is a mismatch somewhere.

    • L Allen says:

      Batty Langley’s is a fab hotel. Do they still have the comfy room with the honesty bar?

      • jj says:

        They did before the pandemic but I haven’t been in London for 18 months

        • Tony says:

          But Batty Langleys is 2-3x the price of Citizen M, no?

          • jj says:

            Not before the pandemic. Rates were often comparable for mid-week business trips but Batty’s was often completely booked weeks in advance.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    Some thoughts:
    – Check in kiosks feel so 2000s, surely perfecting digital check-in via the app is a more modern solution with a desk around for anyone who needs a proper keycard.
    – Rooms tiny, looked more like an upmarket student flat rather than a hotel.
    – I like the ability to control everything in the room via an app (either on your own or your provided device). Being able to close the blackout blinds when you want to sleep and the open them when you wake to let some natural light in sounds good to me. Even better if you can open them on a timer so you’re woke up with natural light.
    – Bar looks nice, shame about the ready meals. Would have been worth reviewing the drinks available. I wouldn’t mind sitting there if I could get a nice craft beer, less so if the only options were the likes of Carling.
    – Breakfast – if this is normal standard (not COVID reduced) I’d prefer the Hampton!

  • Stu N says:

    Stayed at the Bankside one -it was OK but two things put me off the brand. (1) the app controller was a pain in the backside, would have a separate bedside light at least. (2) And no good for a couple as one person would have to clamber over the other to get in and out of bed.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Oh so the app was the *only* way to control the lights? I like the idea of the app to remotely control things but there needs to be controls on the wall too at least for lights on/off and blinds up/down.

      • jj says:

        There are wall switches, too.

        • Save East Coast Rewards says:

          Thanks, I’d have hoped that was the case

          • Stu N says:

            I couldn’t find a wall switch that actually turned off the beside light and one of the “mood lights” in the room. It might have been me, it might have been a fault but it’s enough to put me off the concept.

            Also, the iPad screen glowed all night, I ended up putting a towel over it to stop it annoying me.

    • geoff says:

      The bed is square – put the pillows at the window end and sleep lengthways. Not perfect but no clambering.

  • JayneM says:

    Hmm. Looks lovely but not sure about having a sink in the corridor. This is the second hotel you have reviewed with this arrangement, is it a growing trend?

    • Rhys says:

      It’s certainly space saving (although I admit the W Ibiza didn’t do it for space but because it’s trendy/unusual…

      I actually prefer it. Opens up the space considerably.

      • Bagoly says:

        That makes three – there was also the Westminster.
        I’m not convinced on the hygiene front.

  • L Allen says:

    I’ve had many drinks in the rooftop bar of this hotel. It’s a lovely spot, especially on a sunny evening to catch the sunset. The coffee in the little cafe isn’t too bad either, if I remember correctly. It might be a bit on the ‘modern blend’ for my taste but it’s perfectly serviceable.

  • barnaby100 says:

    Is the ‘hipster option’ amongst colleagues – vibe and bar more than rooms. Beard optional.

  • Aaron C says:

    I stayed in one in Glasgow years ago. Bed is a pain for a couple as one has to climb over the other to get out. There was also something a bit odd about the bathroom IIRC – I think you could see the toilet from the room (but I might be wrong there).

  • Zoe P says:

    I went to the one in Glasgow and I loved it. But I was on my own. If I was with my partner I do wonder if I would feel a bit enclosed.
    Also, but this is many hotels not just CitizenM, I really miss windows that open.

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