We Visit this Luxury London Destination and it Makes for a Perfect City Break
We check out a new luxury destination in the heart of London’s financial district which is perfect for a city break with a difference
Inevitably quieter at weekends, it’s a fascinating part of London, and not just as a result of its international pre-eminence as a trading hub, but also thanks to the ancient alleyways, hidden courtyards and churches, and the many bustling markets that are within a stone’s throw. It’s also pretty accessible meaning it’s a great base from which to explore much of London. But where do you stay?
The Gate is a relatively new luxury aparthotel in Aldgate (just a two-minute stroll from Aldgate East tube). Hotels in London come in all shapes and sizes, and The Gate is large (there are 189 contemporary apartments here) but not so big as to feel overwhelming, and is cleverly designed to ensure you quickly feel at home.
Each apartment has a fully-equipped kitchen, a sitting/workspace area, a good-sized bathroom and is crammed with state-of-the-art technology, and whilst they’re not huge, they are certainly ample enough. Blackout curtains and Hypnos beds, a Nespresso machine and cosy window seats are great little extras which just add to your experience.
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There’s a choice of accommodation, from the smaller studios to the apartments (split in turn into Superior, Skyline and Family). The Penthouse and the Residence would suit families who are perhaps planning to stay for an extended period as the name suggests.
On the ground floor there’s an airy lobby and friendly staff are quick to check you in and get you sorted. They’re also happy to help with everything from directions to advice on where to eat nearby – always useful when you don’t know an area – and there’s so much to explore around here. There’s a bar in this space too, but the real action is on the fifth floor where you’ll find Maple & The Gate serving breakfast options including an unlimited supply of pastries, granola, fresh fruit and a full English (with a vegan option). Tea, coffee and water are on-tap and you can pop in at any time of day for a complimentary coffee which you can take out onto the terrace. The Gate’s outdoor space has great views across the city and it’s where they run a seasonal programme of outdoor yoga classes, wine masterclasses and barbecues for guests. There’s also a fully-equipped gym in the basement.
Our apartment was on the 16th floor it had breathtaking bird’s-eye views across the city from the floor-to-ceiling windows (that’s why the thoughtful addition of the window seats is such a bonus). We could see Tower Bridge in the distance, tucked behind the incredible buildings which make up this part of London. Huge skyscrapers dwarfed the older, historical buildings, protected by their special historic significance, we presumed.
‘It’s worth spending time just wandering the streets around The Gate to get a sense of old-meets-new and the dynamism that is the City of London’
With a busy weekend planned we weren’t sure how our location would work, but we shouldn’t have worried. With Aldgate East station so close, plus plenty of black cabs and Bank station only a 10-minute stroll away, it’s a great hub. (It’s worth the walk to Bank as it takes you through the heart of the City with all its rich heritage).
Our first port of call was to Tuffnell Park and a birthday party. Not an area we know well but it’s got some brilliant pubs and an amazing local Italian where we enjoyed the best Italian cooking we’d ever had (Rossella is its name, by the way). The following day it was busy, busy all the way, but not before we had enjoyed a relaxed breakfast on the fifth floor.
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From Aldgate East station we headed off west, to Wandsworth via Battersea Park, some crazy golf and a wander past the extraordinary redevelopment of the eponymous Power Station. We’d booked dinner at Cinnamon Kitchen in Liverpool Street that night as a treat, but Brick Lane is just round the corner from The Gate so curry connoisseurs have plenty of choice right on their doorstep.
The following day saw us exploring Brick Lane and its eclectic shops and street food outlets. It was (nicely) busy with tourists but easy enough to pop in and out of the many small and unusual independents. We thought about doing a Jack the Ripper tour (not really) but it was proving very popular as we passed the waiting crowds all eager to find out more about the gruesome Jack.
We had walked a long way and seen so much, but luckily dinner that night was the local Chez Elles Bistroquet, a fantastic French bistro back on Brick Lane (book in advance, it’s so good it’s always full).
Sadly we had to leave early on the Sunday, so we didn’t have the chance to check out the nearby Columbia Road Flower Market which should definitely be on anyone’s to-do list staying here. Every Sunday the street is filled with foliage and flowers with stalls selling everything from banana trees and cacti to huge bunches of cut flowers. Lining Columbia Road are lots of small independent businesses, ranging from art galleries and vintage clothing stores to Italian speciality delis and antique shops.
There are stories a plenty at every turn in this part of London, and it’s worth spending time just wandering the streets around The Gate to get a sense of old-meets-new and the dynamism that is the City of London and the characterful East End. And if you want good value and a first-class base then from check in to check out, The Gate will not disappoint.
41 White Church Lane, London E1 1LL
020 8619 1178