Assembly London, London

A budget hotel with boutique touches, Assembly London is centrally located and has a rooftop bar and restaurant with panoramic views
A budget hotel with boutique touches, Assembly London is centrally located and has a rooftop bar and restaurant with panoramic views
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Scotland on Sunday’s Do Not Disturb hotel review

If you were trying to find the most central location in London for a hotel, you would be hard-pressed to do better than this spot on Charing Cross Road.

One of the 121 bedrooms which favour comfy beds, power showers, sound-proofing and free wifi over mini bars and oversized TVs

One of the 121 bedrooms which favour comfy beds, power showers, sound-proofing and free wifi over mini bars and oversized TVs

Part of the rapidly expanding Assembly Hotels Group, itself part of asset-manager Criterion Capital, this 121-bedroom site opened just over a year ago and has a “get up and go” ethos. Rooms are stripped back, removing “unnecessary” amenities like “overpriced mini bars, intrusive bed-side telephones and oversized TVs, redundant in an age of streaming” – instead focusing on comfy beds, power showers, sound-proofing and “super strong” free wifi. So far, so millennial-friendly.

Room service

My room on the seventh floor is reasonably compact but is made to feel larger with sizeable wall-to-wall windows that fill it with light and overlook the city’s famous theatre district. It is decorated mainly in monochrome and pink, with flashes of geometric patterns in the carpet and cushions, the décor is inspired by high-profile fashion names Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Gareth Pugh. Certainly there’s a McQueen influence to the bondage-esque belts decorating the headboard and sported by the large plastic rabbit in the corner of my room. Continuing the theme is a framed “I love you too, honey bunny” quote from Pulp Fiction.

I can’t say I don’t slightly miss having a TV, perhaps showing my “pre-digital native” vintage, and I remember the ethos to get out and about and explore.

While the streets below may be buzzing, no noise rises to my room and I have a very restful night’s sleep in the extremely comfortable bed. The following morning I make use of the powerful shower in the classically designed bathroom.

Wining and dining

The pièce de résistance is to be found on the tenth floor – the B&H Garden Room, a Bourne & Hollingsworth rooftop restaurant and bar. Also open to non-guests, it’s a real hidden gem with a greenery-filled interior and genuinely panoramic view. I pop up for a glass of rosé and tick off illuminated landmarks such as the London Eye and the rotating rooftop globe of the nearby London Coliseum, which is billed as the largest theatre in the West End. I see the view in a different but no less appealing light the next morning with sunshine flooding the rooftops, and have to tear myself away after my sampling of the breakfast buffet, including an excellent pain au chocolat.

There are also à la carte options such as Instagram-friendly avocado and roast tomato on sourdough toast and Eggs Benedict, while dinner options include a pre-theatre menu. Among examples of à la carte dinner dishes are duck confit and potato and celeriac gratin with curly kale and cherry sauce, and a delicious if potent-sounding espresso martini affogato.

Additionally, the group’s cocktail maestro, Jim Wrigley, has teamed up with executive chef Anthony Horn to create mixed drinks using the same fresh herbs and spices used in the food. Cocktails include a Laurie Lee, which contains heritage beetroot and apple juice, and the Orangerie, made with the chef’s home-made marmalade.

Budget or boutique?

While London may very much have its own definition of a budget hotel, this is a very reasonable price point for this location, fused with some boutique touches.

Little extras

For every room booked by an Assembly London guest a donation is made to homelessness charity Crisis - an admirable move.

Worth getting out of bed for

A stone’s throw from Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square, there’s a treasure trove of attractions on your doorstep providing something new for even the most seasoned traveller to London. The Garrick and Wyndam’s theatres are just across the road, with the National Portrait Gallery also within spitting distance.

The direct tube journey to King’s Cross or Euston from Leicester Square station is a blessing if you’re travelling with a suitcase as I was.

Guestbook comments

Assembly’s core offering is a calm, elegant and comfortable stay in one of London’s prime locations.

Emma Newlands

Double rooms start from £170 in high season. The continental breakfast buffet costs £15. Assembly London, 27-31 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0LS (tel: 020 3953 4251, www.assemblyhotels.com)