Hotel Review: The Tower Hotel, near Tower Bridge in London
Words by Grahame Anderson
There’s nothing more reassuring than the welcome and warmth offered from Old Father Thames in one of the world’s prominent cultural hubs.
Just like the Mona Lisa herself Tower Bridge in all her glory seems to smile at you from every angle, as I make the 10 minute walk from the tube at Tower Hill. I’m slowly mesmerized with each step also taking in the magnetic effect of the tower itself. Tower Gateway Docklands Light Railway is just over the way, and the West End can be accessed in less than half an hour. In short – the transport links are excellent in this part of London.
Arriving at the Tower Hotel on a scorching hot early afternoon in late Spring the aroma of fragrant food coming from both the heavily populated lawn bar and brasserie restaurant can’t fail to stir the senses. The greenery is perfect for those warm summer days and there’s everything from a quality snack, to the finest private À la carte dining. I discover a variety of dishes are also served in Ping Pong St. Katherine Docks, and the nearby Riverside Cafe Bar.
Ideally perched between the river, St katherine Docks and the Tower of London’s World Heritage site, this all embracing haven may not at first sight be the most uplifting architecturally. Once inside however, it’s clear why so many people love the place. The wide lobby has a feeling of grandness decorated in boutique style with subtle browns and yellows, and a selection of appealing furniture and tasteful accessories. It’s a theme continued throughout the hotel.
Following a speedy check in I’m given a double room on the fifth floor, and just like a kid at Christmas head straight for the best present of all. As I pull back the drapes, the wow factor kicks in with what has to be one of the most dramatic views of Tower Bridge, City Hall and The Shard found anywhere. Centrally poised over the river a mixture of passing cruisers and a sea of people below make this the most wonderful place to watch the world go by. Mind you, there are incredible vistas to be had right across the hotel and its 12 floors.
There’s a perfectly positioned flat screen tv carrying freeview channels and the most sturdy modern desk ideal for a laptop. To see that iconic bridge reflecting back at you in the large mirror is actually quite an experience. And of course, the tea and coffee making facilities are everything you’d expect with the added bonus of a superb expresso machine, and an adequately stocked mini-bar. With 801 bedrooms here including 18 suites there’s plenty of choice including twin and family, sleeper and executive.
The bathroom is compact but pristine, and this has to be the best sleep in London. There are cushions and pillows aplenty, and the bed offers total comfort in luxury surroundings. It’s pure heaven.
Preparing for an importamt function across the river there’s a knock on the door from room service, who present me with a wonderfully chilled bottle of Chilean wine and all the trimmings. It’s beautifully presented and courtiously delivered. In my short time here I notice staff going out of their way to help old, young and disabled alike. It all makes for a delightful atmosphere, and a real home from home.
Could you possibly find a more perfect place for a business meeting? I think not, given the fantastic array of facilities.Variety is very much the spice of life with 19 dedicated meeting spaces, from the amazing premier tower suite to the Cutty Sark and Nimrod rooms. And for meetings for six or less the cosy and compact Q room is perfect. Wif-fi is fast and free. And for those who wish to try something a little more energetic, the fitness suite is well stocked with the latest exercise equipment.
The hotel even has a license for civil ceremonies, offering an onsite facility for civil marriages in the Tower Suite, Bridge Suite, Gallery Restaurant and Neville Suite. And let’s be honest, you’d be hard pressed to find a more dramatic backdrop for your nuptials than this.
A little later seeking some much needed relaxation, I’m told the X1 Bar and Lounge is one of the venues in London to be seen and seen in. I’m not disapointed sampling a convivial ambience, lots of chatter and staff you just can’t fail to like. The price of an ice cold beer is quite reasonable, and I take a seat near the window – with another incredible view of the bridge, now fully and fabulously illuminated. You can also grab a bite to eat here – it’s a great meeting place in truth.
Next morning breakfast is extremely well organised with a wide range of self service choices to be had. I sample the biggest and tastiest mushrooms, bacon, sausage and scrambled egg in memory. Nothing it seems is too much trouble for the staff.
The Concierge service is put to the test having belatedly discovered I’d travelled without a smartphone charger. I needn’t have worried handing over the phone and getting back a receipt – “come back whenever you’re ready sir”, I’m told. There’s also a luggage storage system and the attention to detail is superb. With his authentic and polite accent, the gentleman at the desk could have stepped out of a Michael Caine film. Patrons couldn’t fail to be impressed.
Back in my room – taking a last few minutes to enjoy the incredible views over a cup of tea, a schooner appears on the river and I’m treated to a grandstand view of the raising and lowering of Tower Bridge. Total ‘Boys Own’.
I bade farewell to my hosts and begin another intriguing walk back to the tube. The Tower is where authentic detail meets contemporary comforts in the most magnificent setting. It’s joyous, captivating and enthralling – just like Old Father Thames himself.
Address: St Katherines’ Way, Tower Hamlets, London, E1W 1LD