The panoramic view from citizenM Tower of London will tell you that the Romans were onto something great when they settled and built their wall here in the third century. The area surrounding our hotel is a hive of landmarks and hidden gems that have popped up over the course of two millennia. From Tudor taverns and Victorian theatres to ‘grammable brunch spots and cocktails named “Oliver’s Twist”, there's much to do. Here are a few highlights only a stone’s throw from our front door.
1.Wilton's Music Hall
A visit to Wilton’s is much like falling through a time slip and landing on a Victorian night out. This is the oldest music hall in the world, saved from dereliction with its mirrors, paintwork and chandeliers intact and charmingly weathered. Celebrate a bygone era by wetting your whistle at the bar and catching an opera such as Rake’s Progress or a quirky performance from the singing hypnotist. We just hope you can find your way back to the 21st century when it’s time to leave.
Photo: Max Fordham
2.The Whitechapel Gallery
This art gallery was opened to the public in 1901 to provide the disadvantaged residents of East London with free access to art and culture. Don’t let the period facade fool you, this gallery is considered a pioneer when it comes to showcasing modern and contemporary art. It’s played host to Picasso’s world-famous Guernica and premiered the works of Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock and David Hockney. Wear your most ponderous expression and spend a while contemplating the gallery’s latest exhibition.
Photo: Guy Montagu-Pollock/ Arcaid/ Whitechapel Gallery
3.The Watch House
If you don’t mind a slightly longer pilgrimage to find good coffee (15 minutes), stroll south across Tower Bridge to The Watch House on trendy Bermondsey Street. Sitting on the edge of St Mary Magdalene’s graveyard, this is where Victorian guards kept a nightly watch for body snatchers stealing buried corpses. Nowadays, it serves less macabre purposes as a cosy spot for an artisanal coffee and a sandwich. Something the guards could have probably done with on the night shift.
Photo: The Watch House
4.The Hoop & Grapes
Many traditional East-end boozers are still thriving, but the Hoop & Grapes has particular staying-power. It’s best known as the little timber pub that miraculously survived the Great Fire of 1666. Rumour has it there is an old “listening tube” running from the cellar to the pub, installed in Oliver Cromwell’s time to spy on conspirators. This is the place to take your most trusted confidante, sip on an ale and collude together in a low voices.
Photo: Spitalfields Life
5.Tower of London
It would be something of an “elephant in the room” not to mention the formidable Tower of London with its 900 year old history, right on our doorstep. The thick stone walls of this fortress are bursting with curious legends of lost princes, headless ghosts and merciless executions. Its massive grounds once played host to a strange menagerie of exotic animals that roamed about, begrudging the English weather. Today only the watchful ravens remain, judging all who visit with their scrutinising stare.
If you’re looking for a little riverside elegance with an eye-popping view of Tower Bridge, The Ivy is in pole-position. This all-day British brasserie has a menu that covers everything from a hearty full English to a champagne-fuelled afternoon tea and a grilled lobster for dinner. Despite its sophisticated menu, it’s the humble shepherd’s pie that proves a house favourite. The bar is also a good place to get ensconced and sip on exquisite cocktails such as “The Crown Jewels”, the “Southbank Mule” and “Oliver’s Twist”.
Photo: The Ivy
We can help you create a bespoke guide to London filled with classic hotspots, the newest haunts and – most importantly – tailored to what you like best.