Budding Dutch hotel group CitizenM has recently brought its brand of 'affordable luxury' to London in the first of what will be a trio of concept hotels in the city. Conveniently sited across the road from Wallpaper* HQ, seconds from Tate Modern, CitizenM Bankside is the fourth hotel from the group, which also has boltholes in Amsterdam and Glasgow, with more planned in New York and Paris.
CitizenM caters to a new generation of technophile travellers, and its latest effort is a notable step-up for a company already known for rethinking the budget hotel concept. Filled with eclectic furniture, accessories and books, the Bankside hotel's striking open-plan lobby is 'styled to look like the living room of a very well-travelled person', according to CMO Robin Chadha.
Guests are offered a self check-in service, using touch screen terminals, and they can refresh themselves at the self-sevice CanteenM - the brand's antidote to the notoriously exorbitant mini-bars, arguably the biggest bane of modern travel.
'We looked at where people spend their time,' says Chadha. 'Do you spend time in the bedroom? No, it's always the living room - and, even more, the kitchen.' The bakery-style kitchen is open around the clock, and serves up sandwiches, salads, sushi, warm dishes and beverages, while the adjacent coffee bar morphs into a cocktail bar as day turns to night.
Unique to this CitizenM is a newfound focus on contemporary art. Turner Prize-nominated artist Mark Titchner features on the exterior of the building with a text piece boldly claiming 'Another World Is Possible', a sentiment that also formed the basis of the design of the hotel. Inside eagle-eyed art enthusiasts may recognise works by Hans op de Beeck, Gavin Turk and Mario Testino. Also new for the hotel group is a partnership with Amsterdam-based bookshop Mendo, the self-styled 'candy store for book aficionados'. In the pop-up bookshop, guests can purchase tomes on photography, architecture, fashion or travel, and have them sent directly to their home address.
The hotel is built around a serene atrium that offers a rare green haven in the bustling metropolis, with tall birch trees reaching up through hanging lanterns and encompassed by a bold 35-meter mural from art collective Assume Vivid Astro Focus. A dramatic spiral staircase leads up to the first floor, where 'business nomads' will find a collection of seven meeting rooms that eschew the corporate look, featuring wooden bookshelves, Eames Plastic Chairs and dramatic lighting fixtures.
The rooms at CitizenM Bankside are compact cubicles of cool, featuring wall-to-wall windows, superking-size beds, space-age rain showers, furniture from design powerhouse Vitra, Skype-based phones, global plug sockets and complimentary wi-fi and films. Remote controls are made obsolete by a bespoke touch-screen tablet that controls everything from the expected (television, window blinds, temperature) to the unexpected (social media channels, ambient mood lighting and themed wake-up alarms).
With rates starting from just £99, CitizenM has set a new standard for techno-forward budget luxury.