Scotland on Sunday Travel

All eyes are on this hotel with a focus on photography – Scotland on Sunday Travel

Pic: Contributed
Pic: Contributed

Housed in a distinctive, angular, silver-fronted building, Montcalm East is located between upscale hipsterville central Shoreditch and the corporate epicentre of the City.Specifically, it’s right by Old Street - a hub for London’s tech firms - as well as being directly opposite the famous Moorfields Eye Hospital. Appropriately enough, it encompasses both modern amenities and nods to the area’s history, while the building is something of an optical illusion in certain lights.The 288-bedroom property, part of hotel giant Marriott’s Autograph Collection, last year reopened after a major revamp, sporting a new interior design concept with a focus on photography, a nod to the “thrilling creative renaissance” east London enjoyed in the 1980s and 1990s.This can be seen throughout, including black-and-white London street photography, while guests can harness their inner David Bailey themselves and create their own shots with the hotel’s Photo Lab experience.My journey to the hotel on the bus is straightforward, and the site’s diamond-shaped façade that juts out like the prow of a ship (or perhaps spaceship), means it is not hard to find.Room serviceMy room on one of the upper floors has a panoramic view, and thankfully there isn’t a cloud to be seen, so I can glimpse landmarks like the City’s skyscrapers, the blue skies and grey and black of surrounding buildings mirrored in much of my accommodation’s colour scheme. That includes a chair upholstered in sea blue topped with a cushion printed with a black and white image of an eye.Also welcoming me is a leaflet explaining how the hotel’s cleaners sanitise “everything they can get their Marigolds on”, including the renowned germ hotspot that is the TV remote, while two sachets containing antiseptic wipes are also provided, handy when navigating the Big Smoke. London is also thirsty work, and each floor has a machine providing filtered water. The biggest surprise is that I can’t get the in-room phone to work unless I put it on speaker, and I think the dial tone can probably be heard on the other side of London.Wining and diningI dine in in-house restaurant Moor & Mead on the ground floor, which says it serves “best-of-British classics updated with modern twists” - but thankfully “not a jellied eel in sight”. I order some fiery Padrón peppers, followed by herb roast chicken with ultra-crisp chips and aioli, plus a charred lemon. Breakfast is served on the floor above, where my corner seat lets me watch the world go by.Worth getting out of bed forWithin easy reach are “London bingo” attractions Brick Lane and Columbia Road Flower Market, while the Museum of the Home in Hoxton might be relatively under the radar, but is just as worthy of a visit in my humble opinion. After I check out I make the short journey to the immersive Van Gogh exhibition which is running in Spitalfields, the food and boutique shopping paradise where I could easily while away a few hours.Budget or boutiqueA pretty decent price point for the location and standard of accommodation, topped with several boutique touches such as enabling guests to get to know the area better through a camera lens.Little extrasMy in-room amenities include a list of podcast recommendations, and an eye mask and earplugs (the latter perhaps handy if I need to use the landline) left during the turndown service. I make a pre-dinner visit to the gym, while the following day I get my cozzie on and head to the hotel’s high-end Bokeh spa in the basement, which takes its name from the term referring to the soft focus of an image. I enjoy a dip in the light blue, deeply relaxing pool, and destress in the steam room. Sadly I don’t have the time to use the sauna or jacuzzi, because it’s time for my OTO Balance CBD Massage Experience, the therapist explaining that the CBD in the products is great for relaxing muscles. When I later emerge from the treatment room ready to spend the rest of the day fast asleep, I cannot disagree.Guestbook commentsA futuristic property well-suited to the many tech firms nearby, quite literally underpinned by a luxurious spa where I’d happily spend every day from 9 to 5.Rooms at Montcalm East start at £199 per night on a B&B basis. Montcalm East, 151–157 City Road, London, EC1V 1JH, tel: 020 3837 3000,

A double with views of The City. Pic: Matthew Shaw
A room at the Montcalm East, London, where the interiors reference photography. Pic: Matthew Shaw
The hotel's pool is in the basement. Pic: Matthew Shaw
The hotel's Bokeh spa in the basement, which takes its name from the term referring to the soft focus of an image. Pic: Matthew Shaw
In-house restaurant Moor & Mead on the ground floor serves “best-of-British classics updated with modern twists”. Pic: Matthew Shaw