This is a shore bet for a tech-savvy stay
CHARLOTTE DOBSON stays at an ultra-modern hotel in Shoreditch and finds the area is not just for hipsters
SHOREDITCH has long been branded the hipster capital of, well, the capital. A Chorlton of London, full of bearded barmen riding bicycles and graffitied back streets dotted with cereal bars.
That stereotype was all too true five years ago.
Now the hipsters have apparently moved on, leaving the not-so trendy masses to explore the gentrified delights of Shoreditch.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still spot bearded specimens sipping from jam jars here and there. But these days, Shoreditch is a free for all.
Stroll up the bustling market stalls and bars of Brick Lane and you’ll spot hen parties, families and City slickers on lunch meetings.
The once gritty, urban feel of Shoreditch has been relaxed and made way for tourism, as well as big business.
This time, my East London adventure takes me to the Old Street end of Shoreditch – an area where modern architecture seems to be booming. These slick, cutting edge structures more like an overspill from the City rather than the old Victorian back streets around Shoreditch High Street.
Perhaps the most striking of all is our hotel, M by Montcalm, in an area developers have dubbed Tech City.
It’s a stone’s throw away from Old Street station and easy to spot as you emerge from the underground.
The 18-storey building is unapologetically futuristic, with its tall triangular edge piercing the skyline.
After we’ve located the main entrance, my boyfriend and I are given a warm welcome by staff at reception and shown to our room.
As soon as we step inside it’s clear this luxury hotel has been designed with techonology-lovers in mind.
Each room has a hi-tech theme with everything from the lighting to the curtains operated by little touch screens dotted around the walls.
Great for novelty value – not so great when you’re trying to turn on the bathroom light at 3am. A simple light switch worked just fine.
Touchscreens aside, this hotel has many pleasing features for a nervous technophobe like myself.
Head down to the basement and you can enjoy the hotel’s swanky spa, designed by Versace (who knew Versace designed leisure facilities these days?)
Aside from what can only be described as a verbal overshare from a Welsh guest in the steam room, we couldn’t fault the salubrious pool and hot tub.
With time on our hands we had a leisurely swim before getting ready for the evening.
In terms of eating, you have two options – the restaurant with a view, Urban Coterie, on the 17th floor and cocktail bar-come bistro, Tonic & Remedy, overlooking the reception.
We ate at the latter and enjoyed what I’d call fancy pub grub with a nice bottle of red.
Our waiter recommended a lamb tagine, which was succulent and subtly spiced, and the steak I ordered was cooked exactly how I like it – well seasoned and bloody.
Does Tonic & Remedy compete with the abundant eateries in the area? On it’s own, probably not.
What it does offer is a welcome respite from a busy Shoreditch on a Saturday night.
One of the best things about this hotel is the location. It’s within walking distance of Brick Lane and the high street, as well as all the alternative bars in fellow hipster-hood Hoxton. There are some great value Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road just 10 minutes’ walk away if you fancy something different.
After dinner we ventured over the road to what’s become known as one of the best cocktail bars in London – The Nightjar.
From the outside it looks like a non-descript doorway, but inside it’s a speakeasy-style cocktail bar.
It’s a popular joint, so ringing ahead and booking a table is recommended.
After nailing a couple of delicious cocktails, we called it a night and wove our way over the road to our hotel.
The hotel’s generous breakfast and strong coffee did something to soothe a sore head the next day, and soon we were ready to check out.
As luxury hotels go, beds at M by Montcalm are on the reasonable side.
If you fancy splashing out a bit of extra cash on a quick London getaway, this hotel is a fun and novel place to stay – not to mention a techy’s dream.
If the swish new buildings and hen dos tell us anything, Shoreditch is no longer a hipsters-only zone.
●● M by Montcalm in Shoreditch, an unashamedly futuristic ‘technology hotel’ near Old Street Station
●● The pool in the basement spa was designed by Versace