citizenM Shoreditch, London
citizenM is an intriguing hotel brand that really stands out from today’s mainstream luxury hotels. By offering a five-star experience without the five-star price tag, citizenM focuses on large communal areas, great guestroom functionalities and exciting design. citizenM Shoreditch is the brand’s third hotel and opened in September 2016 – Tonje Odegard from SPACE had a look…
citizenM is a concept as much as it is a hotel brand – a luxury hotel experience for an affordable price. Appealing largely to a young, professional and mobile audience, the concept entails combining work and play, encouraging interaction and socialising, and using the latest and most exciting technology. Aspiring to be ‘a home away from home’, it’s interesting to see how this is portrayed in the design with the help of comfortable furniture, top-quality products and bespoke art.
In many ways, Shoreditch is the perfect location to open this 216-room hotel, as no other place in London fits in with citizenM’s ethos better than the trendy East End. Shoreditch has over the last decades become a hub for young creatives working in media, design, music, fashion and art, and there are numerous shared workspaces in the area – citizenM one of them. The architecture of the building and the characteristic citizenM style interiors reflect the East London vibe perfectly. Shoreditch is known for its colourful and urban street-art and industrial architecture, so citizenM Shoreditch naturally blends in with its surroundings.
Concrete, a Dutch design and architecture practice based in Amsterdam, has been responsible for the design of all citizenM properties around the world. The design is consistent and shares the same DNA and same message as every other citizenM property, but it is still individualised to fit in with the location. citizenM Shoreditch is part of a larger urban development designed by London-based architects Ellis Miller, which consists of small-scale retail spaces, workspaces and flats.
The building housing citizenM Shoreditch has a fascinating story that excellently suits the citizenM concept. The architecture refers to the site’s industrial history – the building is situated right on the location of the former railway viaduct and has the exact same width. The steel base is divided into several bays that create the spaces for the retail area on the first floor and the entrance on the ground floor. The lobby, also on the first floor, is sort of ‘hung’ under the original steel structure. From the balcony at the end of the lobby, which has a balustrade table, you can also see one of Shoreditch’s most iconic art features; the two graffiti-covered tube trains sitting on top of the opposite building.
Eight storeys of prefabricated room modules are placed on top of the steel base, forming the bedroom floors. The windows are bound together with large frames, breaking down the scale of the building and form a pattern that refers to the original old warehouse brick pattern.
The interior design of citizenM Shoreditch clearly stems from its philosophy. Concrete looked at what they thought was needed to make a perfect guestroom and came up with a simple solution – a huge and comfortable bed, a great shower and lots of free films to watch. All the rooms are the same, providing an admirable egalitarian environment.
A super king-size bed with a custom-made mattress fills the entire half of the room while a carved cabinet in opaque glass makes the bathroom and shower area. The cabinet can change colour, controlled by the mood-tablet, which also controls the blinds, the lighting in the rest of the room, and the television. Lots of natural light comes in through the giant wall-to-wall windows, and the enormous power rain shower is an excellent feature.
Judging by the fairly small size of the rooms, Concrete have been very clever in their use of the space and by going for a minimal and trendy design, there aren’t too many confusing elements within it. In line with citizenM’s commitment to contemporary art, each room also has two art pieces especially selected by Amsterdam-based gallery The Public House of Art.
The other elements normally associated with a guestroom have been transported to the communal areas, reinforcing the collective spirit that underpins the citizenM ethos. Going for a homey feel, citizenM has created a huge living room in the space comprising of the check-in area, communal workspace, the bar, and canteenM. Filled with art, books and colourful surprises to elevate and inspire people, the comfortable sofas, stylish design chairs and long communal tables succeed in creating a residential, yet professional environment. With different types of seating configurations, nooks and spaces within the large open plan, the space is inviting and vibrant. citizenM features Vitra furniture throughout, which includes iconic Eames chairs and other design chairs by Verner Panton, plus a see-through fireplace within a freestanding cabinet, that help refine it all.
Arriving in the first-floor lobby, you are met by the characteristic citizenM bookcase cabinet that runs along the entire western wall. Filled with curious objects, bespoke art pieces, books, instruments, vintage toys, picture frames and old vinyl, one can sit for days just looking at it. Some of the items and some of the featured paintings come from collectionM, an online store, which has a physical presence in each hotel. The opposite wall is made up from a glass façade overlooking Holywell Court and the passing London Overground trains. Bringing you up to the lobby is the iconic spiral citizenM staircase, which creates a captivating effect whether you look down from the top or up from the bottom.
Art plays a significant role both in citizenM’s philosophy and in the design. It’s there to provide inspirational moments. The most remarkable example is the enormous wall-to-wall art piece full of intense colours on the ground floor, immediately grabbing the attention of both people entering and people passing by. citizenM always integrate bespoke art within each of its hotels. Some of these pieces reference to the hotel’s location and culture. The vibrant painting by the New York- and Paris-based collective of artists, AVAF, undoubtedly reflects the colourful and urban street art vibe of Shoreditch. It gives pedestrians the opportunity to have a moment to reflect while at the same time providing a platform for artists. A gigantic graffiti-like mural is painted in the ceiling over the check-in area too, and a similar art piece can be found in the living room.
citizenM’s philosophy of affordable luxury is a fresh and interesting approach to high-end hospitality. It is clearly design-led and the beds are amazing. It is potentially what luxury hotels of the future will be all about – high-tech, creative and interactive.