WHEN a man is tired of London he is tired of life, Samuel Johnson opined in 1777. But if the snarled-up streets of the Big Smoke do get too much, you can always take to the water – which is where the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London Docklands Riverside comes into its own.
The hotel, formerly a 17th century wharf building, is splendidly positioned on the south bank of the Thames, opposite the Canary Wharf business and shopping district, to which the hotel’s two-minute complimentary ferry service provides access. From there you can get bus, Tube or Docklands Light Railway into central London – but it’s just as quick and much more fun to board the Thames Clipper and see the sights unfold as you sail up the river.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Largely boutique. Exposed brickwork abounds, dotted by interesting artworks from emerging artists featured by Gray’s Art Gallery. There is a fitness room, but no spa. All guest rooms and public areas have complimentary WiFi access.
Our two spacious bedrooms (there are two adults and three children in our party), joined by a hallway, are all marble and dark wood, and with plenty of storage for suitcases and clothes. Both have flat screen TV, radio (untunable as far as we could ascertain), and the all-important kettle plus tea and coffee. Sliding doors lead to a balcony with superb views of the river. The ensuite has bathtub and shower, with aromatics aplenty, plus a large round vanity mirror encircled by light bulbs, which when you stare at it has the effect of making your eyes like those of an extra from Hunger Games.
WINING AND DINING
In the hotel’s Columbia Bar my wife has a glass of The Pick Shiraz, described as an easy-drinking Australian, but the price of £9 per 250ml measure takes a bit of swallowing. I have a pint of Meantime London ale for a fiver, an Appletiser comes in at £3.20, with a couple of cokes £7. It all adds up.
In the adjacent restaurant, our starters are roasted smoked almonds £3, British charcuterie board £11, and Devonshire crab on sourdough £8.50. Mains are grilled haloumi with quinoa, roasted vegetables and corns salsa £11, spiced cod loins with curried risotto, crispy shallots and lime emulsion £16, and beef fillet with peppercorn sauce £26. The two younger children have garlic bread, fish and chips, omelette with mushrooms, chocolate cake and ice cream. Side dishes include triple cooked chips £3.50 and rocket salad with parmesan and aged balsamic glaze £3.50. Although the restaurant is busy on a Saturday evening, service is friendly and efficient, the dishes beautifully presented and cooked to perfection.
Breakfast is taken in the same room, overlooking rowers cutting through the wake of Thames Clippers, rib boats and dredgers. A full English feast is the order of the day, and I can feel my arteries narrowing with every forkful of bacon, sausages, eggs, fried tomatoes, black pudding and beans. The healthier eaters help themselves to fresh fruits, yoghurt, cereals, cheeses, cold meat, patisseries and pancakes.
Wining and dining can be enjoyed al fresco on the Terrace, while The Library offers a sedate area for fireside drinks, and the stylish Snug caters for cosy gatherings.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Many London landmarks are within easy reach, including the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben, and the best way to get to all of them is via the MBNA Thames Clipper which stops close by every 20 minutes. We spend £50 for a Family River Roamer pass which includes a return crossing on the Emirates Air Line cable car across the Thames. It may well be the best value for money in all London.
The hotel is outside the congestion charge zone, so no worries if you’ve brought the motor, and there’s access to an underground car park (though squeezing into the spaces is a potentially paint-scratching manoeuvre). Guests are welcomed with a warm chocolate chip cookie at reception.
Swish and family-friendly, this is the perfect base for enjoying all London has to offer.
• Room rate based on two people sharing with breakfast included is £149 per night. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Docklands Riverside, 265 Rotherhithe Street, London SE16 5HW, 0207 231 1001, http://doubletree3.hilton.com/