Where Business Travellers Stay in London

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Nov 14, 2017

by STEVE MCKENNA, Writer

London has been a magnet for travellers since the Romans sailed up the River Thames and founded Londinium in 43 CE. Despite the political and economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it remains as alluring as ever – helped, in part, by sterling’s post-referendum slump, which gives visitors and investors more bang for their buck in this thrilling metropolis where more than 300 languages spice the (occasionally drizzly) air.

Driven by its work-hard-play-hard ethic, London is always evolving and recently there’s been a spate of five-star openings, particularly in the City, the historic financial heartbeat also known as the Square Mile. Perched beneath cloud-piercing cranes and quirkily named skyscrapers – the Cheesegrater and Walkie-Talkie – are grand Georgian-, Victorian- and Edwardian-era banks and offices, some reborn as ritzy venues where movers and shakers eat, drink, sleep and clinch deals. Work may also take you to the gleaming corporate towers of Canary Wharf, a 15-minute Tube ride east of the City.

But the coolest place to do business in London could well be Shoreditch. An artsy, gentrified district on the City’s northern fringes, it’s home to a hive of tech and design companies, lightened by street-food markets, boutiques and pop-up bars (one has been decorated like Donald Trump’s New York penthouse apartment). For tips on how to mix business with pleasure in England’s extraordinary capital, read on... 

The Ned

This massive 1920s Midland Bank is now London’s hottest new hotel. Spread over 11 floors, with a labyrinth of buzzy public areas, it melds Jazz Age glamour with the kind of flamboyance associated with Soho House, the exclusive private club and Ned partner. The walnut-panelled counters and verdite columns have been sensitively restored and the 252 bedrooms are kitted out with Art Deco furniture. They range from cosy Crash Pads to the dapper Lutyens Suite, named after the bank’s architect, Edwin “Ned” Lutyens.

Business facilities: The six events spaces include the Grade I-listed boardroom. Catch up on emails in Gatsby-esque lounge bar The Vault, surrounded by safety deposit boxes.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and drink: The former banking hall has nine eateries, including Venetian brasserie Cecconi’s. There’s a rooftop pool bar, too.

Fitness and wellbeing: The huge 24-hour gym has a boxing ring and cardio and strength equipment. There’s a pool in the old bullion vault, plus five spa and grooming spaces.

Run route: For an eight-kilometre riverside loop, jog to Westminster Bridge via Paul’s Walk and Embankment, cross the Thames, run along Southbank and Bankside then return via Southwark Bridge.

Coffee nearby: The Cosy Coffee Corner (King William Street, EC3V 9AN) in St Mary Woolnoth church does a topnotch flat white.

27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ 

 

Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

Imposing Corinthian columns and a sculpture of Old Father Thames – a demigod clutching a trident, facing the river and the Tower of London – grace the façade of this white Portland-stone beauty, the former headquarters of the Port of London Authority. Converted into an elegant Four Seasons, it has 100 rooms with marble-clad bathrooms, Nespresso machines and mirrors that turn into TVs, plus bedside iPads and London-themed books (drift off while reading Peter Ackroyd’s 848-page “biography” of the city). The Heritage Suites have original high ceilings, ornate plasterwork and working fireplaces.

Business facilities: Computers, translation services and airline reservation assistance are available 24 hours. There are five function areas, notably the wood-panelled UN Ballroom, where the inaugural United Nations General Assembly met in 1946. The ground-floor Rotunda Bar is an atmospheric workspace; from late afternoon, a pianist plays the Bösendorfer grand.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and drink: There are three restaurants, including one helmed by French chef Anne-Sophie Pic (of Michelin-starred Pic) and Chinese and Japanese affair Mei Ume.

Fitness and wellbeing The well-equipped 24-hour gym has cardio machines and weights, plus there’s a spa with treatment rooms, a heated pool, hammam and sauna.

Run route: Reception has three-, five- and 10-kilometre mapped routes that skirt the Thames, taking in sights such as Tower Bridge and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Coffee nearby: Curators Coffee Studio conjures caffeine hits near Leadenhall Market, a Victorian arcade used in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ

The Dorchester

The shiny Ferraris, Lotuses and Aston Martins in the forecourt hint at the decadence of this prestigious hotel that opened in 1931 and has hosted everyone from Eisenhower to Elizabeth Taylor. Radiant floral displays curated by in-house florist Philip Hammond are a sweet-scented welcome as you sashay through the marble lobby, while the 250 rooms, boosted by regular face lifts, are light and airy, with antique furniture, Bang & Olufsen electronics and bathtubs said to be the deepest of any London hotel.

Business facilities: There’s a business suite with computers and printing facilities, plus 10 events spaces, including a 1000-capacity ballroom with AV equipment and the Park Suite, where the Duke of Edinburgh held his stag night in 1947.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and drink: The opulent orange-hued Promenade lounge serves afternoon tea, while the rear oval bar does champagne and oysters. Other fine-dining options are Alain Ducasse’s three-Michelin-starred French restaurant; The Grill’s Sunday roasts and sweet soufflés; and Cantonese gem China Tang.

Fitness and wellbeing: The well-equipped gym is open 24 hours. No pool but there’s a spa with a hair salon, barber shop, nail bar and aromatherapy treatments.

Run route: Take the pedestrian subway under Park Lane into Hyde Park. A circuit of the park and neighbouring Kensington Gardens is seven kilometres.

Coffee nearby: The Dorchester has an artisanal coffee shop, Parcafé, but Élan café, diagonally opposite the hotel, is best for celebrity-spotting.

53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA

The Curtain

You’re just as likely to rub shoulders with creatives in jeans and sneakers as suited-and-booted types at this new Shoreditch bolthole, a trilby’s throw from where the Curtain Theatre – an old haunt of William Shakespeare – stood. New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum has brought a Manhattan-warehouse vibe, with the 120 spacious rooms and suites flaunting exposed red-brick walls, Bluetooth-connected Marshall speakers and eclectic art (including depictions of toddler DJs, a gorilla playing with Rubik’s cubes and David Bowie in all his pomp). The steam showers are wonderfully refreshing.

Business facilities: You can “work” while browsing Shoreditch’s fast-changing skyline from a deckchair on the terrace of Lido rooftop restaurant. The pick of the events rooms is a 42-seat retreat with a 1.5-metre, 4K screen, leather walls and sofas and a cocktail bar.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and drink: There’s a taco eatery by the lobby and an offshoot of renowned Harlem restaurant Red Rooster in the basement. Try the fried yard bird or Obama short ribs (apparently the ex-president is a fan). Live gospel music and DJs add to the uplifting atmosphere.

Fitness and wellbeing: There’s a new-smelling 24-hour gym with Life Fitness machines, plus a spa.

Run route: The hotel’s built-up environs aren’t ideal for running but 1.5 kilometres north is jogger-friendly Shoreditch Park and the towpaths of Regent’s Canal.

Coffee nearby: A five-minute walk up the road, Fix 126 has good coffee and tasty pastries.

45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT

Image: Adrian Houston

Top image: The Ned

SEE ALSO: Bite-sized Activities if You're Time-Poor in London