Words by Bess Browning
Spin yourself in a circle at the top of Seething Lane in London and you’ll capture the iconic Tower of London, city landmark Tower Bridge, a street teeming with history and of course, the Apex City of London Hotel.
So close to the tourist trail, you’d imagine this 209-bed hotel to be humming with the noise of traffic and chattering tour guides, but instead, I discovered an oasis of calm as soon as I walked through the front door.
And in fact, I also found a rainbow-coloured life-sized model cow too, a first glimpse at this hotel’s quirkier side…
Just five minutes walk from Tower Hill tube station with the Circle and District line, and a few more minutes from Tower Gateway with the DLR, it didn’t take us long to find Apex City of London Hotel.
And after a busy day at work and a commute in the drizzle, my mood was instantly lifted by the smiles of all the staff behind the reception desk.
Our deluxe room on the sixth floor of the hotel was spacious, yet cosy, and the king-sized bed with plump pillows and extra cushions – just in case – made it tempting not to leave the room all night.
With two TVs, both with Sky, you could either lounge on the leather sofas with a mag or watch a film while snuggled under the duvet. The best of both worlds.
In the bathroom, you’re spoilt for choice – do you climb into the huge bath (definitely big enough for two) or enjoy the wetroom shower? I chose both! Using the complementary ELEMIS products, it was an indulgent experience. There were the usual shower gels and hair products, but a nice touch was the lavender scented pillow spray to help you slip into a restful night sleep and an eye cream to revive those tired bags.
But maybe the most charming complementary item was another quirky addition to this hotel – Edwin the bath duck. After floating around on my bubble bath, we were free to take him home.
Seething Lane is alive with history. The hotel sits right next to the medieval St Olave’s Church and this street was once home to Samuel Pepys, an administrator for the navy and MP whose diary picturing 17th century England became a literary classic.
He often wrote in his journal about food he enjoyed, and with a plaque opposite the Apex City of London marking his life, it makes sense for the hotel to pay homage to their famous neighbour.
In the restaurant The Lampery, they do just that.
Dishes are inspired by Pepys, including the chef’s own take on Pepys’ favourite ‘Lampery Pye’.
But they ‘ve got plenty more contemporary dishes on offer too, serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The A la Carte menu has a selection of classic dishes, including a club sandwich and Lampery fish and chips, served with homemade tartar sauce. Mains start at £14.
And with their set dinner menu just £25 for three courses, it’s affordable luxury.
I enjoyed the faultlessly cooked pork belly with flavoursome braised yellow endive, and my partner knocked back the trio of oysters – quite a treat for a set menu.
For mains, or ‘the middle’ as the Lampery call it, I had the dreamy wild mushroom fregola, a warming delight on a winter’s night, and my partner enjoyed the guinea fowl accompanied by the most scrumptious parmesan polenta.
After two delicious courses, we were never going to turn down pudding and the apple crumble and pear cheesecake did not disappoint.
Moving to the bar for an after-dinner cocktail, I’m not surprised to hear the restaurant has been shortlisted for several awards in the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards 2018 including the ‘Restaurant or Bar in Hotel’ category.
In the morning, we were back in the Lampery for breakfast, which included a continental buffet fit for a king back in Samuel Pepys’ days and an A la Carte menu, including Eggs Benedict or your typical Full English. We chose to sit at the front of the restaurant during breakfast. With the floor-to-ceiling windows letting in a stream of light and a canopy of flowers and greenery, it’s an Instagram shot waiting to be snapped.
Before checking out of the hotel, I popped down to the spa kitted out with an infrared sauna and a range of treatments including ELEMIS facials and O.P.I manicures, as well as a spray tan booth.
After leaving our luggage in reception, we took a meander along to the Tower of London, before wandering over to the stunning St Katharine’s Dock. On the perimeter of the water, you’ll find an array of restaurants and cafes to choose from. We had a gin and tonic at the The Dickens Inn in the heart of the dock; a pub dating back to the 18th century.
If you’re looking for something more unique at dinnertime, go back towards Tower Bridge and check out the Coppa Club glass igloos along the riverfront. With candles and cosy blankets, it’s an experience made for a special occasion. But beware, you need to book in advance as the seats are harder to snap up then Glastonbury tickets.
If you’re looking for a hotel to soak up the sights London has to offer, as well absorb its endless history, Apex City London is affordable luxury at its best.
The hotel comprises a range of double and family rooms as well as a collection of luxurious suites. Dinner, bed and breakfast, based on two people sharing a City Room, starts at £199 when payment is made on booking.
Address: 1 Seething Lane, EC3N 4AX, London, England.
Phone: 020 7702 2020