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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!
This is what you see when you first enter:
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):
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:
Back in the room and you find a small sink, mirror, empty mini fridge, hair dryer and towels:
Beyond this is the room proper, including a large king size bed tucked into the end:
As you can see you get a small side table and chair as well as a narrow desk:
The view from the room was exceptional – I imagine better than the views you get from Four Seasons Trinity Square.
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.
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.
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:
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.
There is also a large balcony with exceptional views across to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and even the Shard:
…. 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:
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:
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:
The only cooked item available is a little egg-bacon-omelette thing or the veggie alternative:
This was my tray once I’d had a snoop round all the options:
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.
Meeting space at citizenM
Meeting rooms at citizenM are available to hotel residents and non-residents and they make for an impressive spot to host a meeting.
The meeting rooms are located next to and above the rooftop bar, so many have exceptional views of the City or the Tower of London. There are a range of rooms available, with the biggest room able to host 24 boardroom style.
CitizenM also offer a remote working solution in the lobby, which is a nice spot to set up shop if you need to be in that area.
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 – May 2023:
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