Home Hotel reviews Cocktails and charm at Hyatt Place London City East

Cocktails and charm at Hyatt Place London City East

This sleek and colourful hotel has a rooftop cocktail bar and is just around the corner from Brick Lane

by Sarah Bridge

When I arrived at Hyatt Place London City East I had no idea what to expect, which is one of the joys of reviewing hotels in London. Would it be a budget option, handy for the tube but lacking in charm? Or will it be a quirky boutique hotel, full of surprises but tucked away in a London back street?

My stay at Hyatt Place London City East

Hyatt Place London City East reception

Specially-commissioned artwork from local artists can be found throughout Hyatt Place London City East

Hyatt Place London City East was a surprising combination of both of these and was a memorable stay for all sorts of reasons. Without a doubt, the stand-out highlight of the stay was PocketSquare, the 9th floor cocktail bar, with views stretching across London to Canary Wharf and a range of unique cocktails with many ingredients I’d never heard of, let alone tasted.

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rooftop terrace at PocketSquare

On the 9th floor of the Hyatt Place London City East hotel is PocketSquare skyline bar which has a terrace with great views of London

But the bedrooms, the public spaces and the basement Italian restaurant were all part of the Hyatt Place London City East experience. This recently-opened hotel is the first Hyatt Place hotel in central London and has made huge efforts to be influenced by the arty, creative vibe of Whitechapel Street and nearby Shoreditch.

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Getting to Hyatt Place London City East

The great thing about the location of Hyatt Place is that it’s less than a minute from Aldgate East tube station (make sure you take the Whitechapel Gallery exit) and close to the vibrant Brick Lane. Turn left out of the station and walk past a range of shops including Tesco, and you’re there.

Hyatt Place London City East entrance

The entrance to Hyatt Place London City East on Whitechapel Street

This means that you’re just around the corner from the world-famous Brick Lane, with its superb range of curry houses, bagel bakeries and independent shops including the former Truman Brewery site. Not only that, but Aldgate East is just 20 minutes walk from top tourist attractions Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, making it an ideal base for sight-seeing in London.

Book Hyatt Place London City East on Booking.com

Visit Hyatt Place London City East on Tripadvisor

The downside is that Whitechapel Road itself, where the Hyatt Place London City East is located, has resisted all attempts of gentrification over the decades, so what some people might welcome as a lively, quirky, diverse and authentic part of London, others might be put off by the less-than-salubrious surroundings including piles of street rubbish and the roar of traffic. The good thing is that, thanks to some impressive sound-proofing, the outside noise doesn’t impact the hotel’s interior at all, so once you are inside the only sounds you hear will be the hiss of the coffee machine in the hotel’s café/restaurant.

Checking into the hotel

The entrance is on the ground floor but the reception is on the lower ground floor, so you can either take the lift or just walk down the stairs to your left. The reception is an open plan work and lounge space full of colourful furniture with plug points everywhere, handy for the digital nomads and business people tapping away at their laptops. There’s free wifi through the hotel and there are even two handy PCs in reception for people wanting to check their emails and local information, which was a nice touch.

Hyatt Place London City East cafe

There’s a pleasant cafe, restaurant and shop in the reception area of Hyatt Place London City East

What sets it apart from being an anonymous hotel which is, after all, part of an international chain, is the artwork which can be found throughout the hotel, having commissioned a series of London-based street artists to provide one-off pieces and local photography, so guests will find abstract murals from Brixton-based artist Olly Fathers, a spray-painted mural from street artist Jay Kaes and a geometric mural from Lothar Gotz to create a lively, contemporary feel.

Bedrooms at Hyatt Place

Hyatt Place London City East bedroom

My bedroom at Hyatt Place London City East had a double bed, large TV, writing desk, bathroom with shower and rooftop terrace

There are 280 bedrooms at Hyatt London City East which makes it seem like a vast hotel, but handily my room was just next to the lifts. All the rooms from the 6th to 9th floors have views of the London skyline, including my own room 803, which had a lengthy terrace running outside my room, which was perfect to soak up the sights and sounds of London from a height, including those icons of the nearby City of London, the Gherkin, Cheesegrater and Shard.

Hyatt Place London City East terrace outside the bedroom

The terrace outside my bedroom at Hyatt Place London City East was great for view of the city skyline

Guests not staying in a balcony or terrace room could also enjoy the views from the 9th floor bar PocketSquare, which faces towards the equally tall and impressive Canary Wharf buildings.

My room was good-sized for London, in an urban chic style, with a double bed at one end and a writing desk at the other, with a wardrobe containing an ironing board, towelling robe, Nespresso coffee machine, Smart YV and mini-fridge with water plus tea, coffee, milk and biscuits. The en-suite bathroom was small but very smart, with a walk-in shower, toiletries and lots of thick, fluffy towels. It also had a handy sensor light which came on automatically when you approached, so you didn’t have to find the light switch or wake your partner in the middle of the night.

PocketSquare skyline bar and terrace

PocketSquare cocktail bar interior

PocketSquare cocktail bar is on the 9th floor of Hyatt Place London City East and has great views along with great cocktails

On the 9th floor of Hyatt Place London City East is PocketSquare, the bar and terrace which is definitely a London ‘hidden gem’ and the highlight of our stay. Thanks to its innovative approach to drinks, from its six-legged cocktail glasses and esoteric cocktail ingredients, it proved to be an unexpectedly memorable visit, not least because it’s always a treat to drink outside at a rooftop bar in London.

PocketSquare rooftop bar terrace

The outdoor terrace at PocketSquare was a gorgeously sunny spot for an al fresco drink during my stay

The bar itself is full of warm, moody colours which make it a perfect place in which to work during the day, when you can really soak up those skyline views on the terrace. In the evening it has a perfect classic cocktail bar vibe, and the terrace has heaters and blankets so you can drink outside whatever the temperature.

PocketSquare rooftop bar cocktail list

The cocktail list at PocketSquare was a fascinating read and full of ingredients I’d never even heard of

It is the drinks which set it apart from other cocktail bars in London though, with eight signature cocktails containing delights such as tobacco bitters, Bergamot orange spray and mango and chilli marmalade. The bar staff are more than happy to explain any unfamiliar ingredients to you – mamajuana, tepache and Mikan essence to name but a few – and each drink comes in its signature glass and can be paired with any of the excellent bar snacks on offer.

gin-based Chimera cocktail at PocketSquare bar

Prize for the most eye-catching glass goes to the six-legged container for the gin-based Chimera cocktail, paired with inked squid and blue coconut foam

We started off with the one with the wackiest glass: Chimera is served in a six-legged vessel which certainly caught the eye. It was powerful stuff – not as powerful as the Brutalism cocktail which we had later, which was completely over-the-top – and fun to drink, like a melted Haribo sweet, and paired perfectly with the inked squid – I couldn’t stop myself from enjoying the squid ink to the very last drop.

food at PocketSquare bar

The food was just as inventive as the cocktails at PocketSquare, with delights such as Quail scotch egg nest and prawn dumplings with gold leaf

My favourite cocktail was the In2Art, which started sweet and then morphed into a lovely Campari-bitterness, and was the first time I’d tried either Mamajuana – a spiced alcoholic beverage from the Dominican Republic made by infusing a mixture of rum, red wine, and honey with tree bark and herbs – or Tepache – made from the peel and the rind of pineapple. I particularly liked the hefty blocks of ice – very Mad Men – and the dish it was paired with, a salmon and tuna mosaic, was the stand-out dish of the evening, if rather small for its hefty price tag.

It’s easy to drop quite a lot of money at PocketSquare – so-named, said bar manager Jem Luca, because it’s a smart, little detail – but every dish and drink was unique and memorable, from the Meiso which had fish-shaped ice cubes swimming around in gold leaf, and the 32 which came with an edible caramel spoon. We even tried the Basilicum, made especially for London Cocktail Week, and given the variety of cocktails and the passion for the drink from the bar staff, PocketSquare will be a must-visit for serious cocktail aficianados.

Zoom East restaurant at Hyatt Place

In the basement of Hyatt Place London City East is the Italian restaurant Zoom East, headed by Sicilian chef Vittorio Meli. We sampled our way across the menu, from a range of deli items including caponata, peppers and salami, to crispy fritto misto, arancini and creamy burrata and finally, a hefty sample of wild boar pappardelle. It was all classically Italian, tasty and delicious, and the bright colours and artful lighting made it feel much brighter than its below-street location would suggest.

deli starters from Zoom East

A range of deli starters from Zoom East

A 'mini portion' of hearty, wild boar parpadelle at Zoom East

A ‘mini portion’ of hearty, wild boar parpadelle

Exploring Whitechapel Street and Brick Lane

This part of London is lively, creative and full of independent shops and restaurants. Just round the corner from the hotel is Brick Lane, full of curry houses and quirky shops, including the 24-hour Beigel Bake and vintage clothing store Beyond Retro, while next to Aldgate East tube station is Whitechapel Gallery, the ‘artists’ gallery for everyone’ which is free to visit and always worth checking out.

Art at the Whitechapel Gallery

Art at the Whitechapel Gallery

Just a short walk away is the historic Spitalfield Market, packed with bars and restaurants, and just off Brick Lane on Cheshire Street is the UK’s first plant-based cheesemonger, Fauxmagerie.

Breakfast at Hyatt Place

Breakfast the following morning was a good range of pastries, cereals, yogurts and cooked options, from a full English, fried eggs, sausages and bacon to onion bhajis, and freshly ground coffee, fresh juices and smoothies which seemed very popular with guests staying at the hotel.

Breakfast at Hyatt Place London City East

Breakfast at the hotel included a wide range of cooked options

With a late check out time of 12 noon, I was free to help myself to freshly-ground coffee and work from the open work space downstairs, where morning meetings were soon in full swing, although PocketSquare would have been a great place to work as well. It was time for one last view from my balcony before heading home through busy Whitechapel Street. I reckon Hyatt Place London City East will be a popular hotel with business people, students and tourists alike – and will soon find its rightful place on the London cocktail circuit.

Hotel information and to book Hyatt Place London City East

Hyatt Place London City East
Black Lion House,
45 Whitechapel Road
London E1 1DU

Book directly with the hotel

Book Hyatt Place London City East on Booking.com

Visit Hyatt Place London City East on Tripadvisor

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