InterContinental London – the O2
The new-build Intercontinental London – the O2 opened in December 2015. It is managed by the hotel division of the Arora Group.
The property feels a little isolated, but the industrial location is dramatic and, in reality, isn’t far at all from Canary Wharf or the West End. Decked out in polished marble, glass and steel, the hotel has taken inspiration from the history of shipping – subtle design nods include the hullshaped Clipper bar, while 30 types of tea from the East India Company are stocked in the Meridian Lounge. The views of the river and skyscrapers opposite make for an eye-catching backdrop. Service is attentive and professional.
On the Greenwich Peninsula. The O2 Arena is directly connected to the hotel. It’s a five-minute walk to North Greenwich Tube station. London City airport is three stops on the DLR from Canning Town (one Tube stop away).
There are 453 rooms, including 59 suites, across six categories. Entry-level Superior rooms (29-32 sqm) are well-equipped with 42-inch smart TVs, coffee machines, minibars, workdesks with UK, EU and USB sockets (also by the bed), robes and ironing boards, granite bathrooms with tubs and walk-in showers, and Anne Semonin amenities. Décor is neutral with the views of the river, the O2 Arena and Canary Wharf the focal point. Wifi is free, with the option of upgrading to a higher speed (£8-£16). I streamed an episode from Amazon Prime without a problem on the basic package, and had a good night’s sleep in the comfy king-size bed.
Club Intercontinental rooms and suites offer more space (from 42 sqm) and some differences in design – the suites have separate changing areas and Bose sound systems, for example. They also come with access to the Club lounge, which serves a buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening canapés and cocktails. It also has a boardroom for eight people.
There are two bars and three restaurants. The Clipper bar serves light food,“tea spiked” cocktails and G&Ts with the house Clipper gin. An outstanding breakfast buffet is laid out in the Market Brasserie, which also serves dinner. On the top floor is Eighteen Sky Bar – I popped up for a drink one weekday evening and found it to be quiet, although I visited between Christmas and New Year. The views were fantastic.
After, I went down for dinner at the Peninsula fine-dining restaurant. The sultry lighting and a corner table by the window allowed for a beautiful lookout on to the river. The à la carte menu lists only six starters and six mains ranging from £12 to £30, so the seven-course tasting menu for £72 is good value. Wine pairings are an extra £55. The £60 vegetarian menu was fantastic – highlights were the potato and truffle terrine and the chestnut gnocchi.
Event space totals 20 venues, including the UK’s largest pillar-free ballroom, which can host up to 3,000 people for a reception. There’s also a vast pre-function area, and a plaza for 400 people outside. The second floor has 15 meeting rooms for 20 to 240 delegates.
There is a 24-hour gym with Technogym machines, plus a 17-metre pool. An upper level features a spa with eight treatment rooms. All areas are open to the public for a fee. I enjoyed a jog along the riverside Jubilee Walkway, which leads to the Thames Barrier. Jenny Southan
The hotel is ideally placed for business people flying in and out of London City airport and those working in Canary Wharf, and offers fantastic views. It’s a topclass offering with extensive facilities and great dining.