Canary Wharf is perhaps not the first place you think of when considering where to lay your hat in London.
Bustling during work hours, it can be somewhat sterile at weekends.
A point reinforced by the pricing at newly opened Novotel Canary Wharf, with rates doubling on weekdays when compared to Saturday and Sunday.
So, very much a business destination.
But in that sense the new Novotel is something of a revelation; a lot more energetic, inviting and engaging than I had anticipated.
Arriving earlier this month, I was greeted in the Gallery – the name AccorHotels has given to a sort of informal greeting area.
Guests are met by ‘Welcomers’ wielding tablets, with no reception desk in sight.
Flanked by an impressive staircase, the area expands out into the upper levels of the public spaces, creating a dramatic entrance.
Suspended by copper vertical rods and with heavy solid character oak steps, the staircase is the centrepiece to the hotel’s industrial design influenced by Canary Wharf’s maritime history.
With soft seats and music this is a place where you can feel at home.
A quick check in allows me to venture upstairs with the minimum of fuss.
The 39-storey property boasts 313 rooms and 26 individually designed suites, many of which offer sweeping views across London.
From my room on the 32nd floor, the Shard is visible on the horizon, as well as the rapidly changing skyline of the Square Mile.
The hotel as a whole seeks to draw on the history of the Docklands, with the design blending natural woods, gold, copper and soft greys.
The bedrooms carry on the theme, offering seclusion in this sociable place.
Of course, rooms enjoy large flat screen televisions, work desks, Live ‘N’ Dream comfort bedding and sleek bathrooms – everything you would expect from a hotel in this bracket.
The complementary magazines offering advice on how to purchase a super yacht might misjudge the demographics slightly, however, but do at least add a flourish of aspirational wealth.
A full range mini bar, turn-down service and private concierge are all on offer in the suites on the higher floors, adding an additional touch of luxury.
Soft-sofa seating areas, stocked bookcases and in some cases free standing bathtubs complete the look.
A comfortable, reliable space for the business traveller.
With business in mind, Novotel Canary Wharf is home to nine meeting rooms.
Visit the West India Room, with dark woods, brass and glass for a quiet space, while the East India room is complete with a rope settee and an automated dark wooden table.
Rooms are designed around and named for docklands cargo, with Crate, Log, Tabacco, Rum, Coffee and Spice nodding to the goods which used to come into this port.
Crowning off these then luxury items, is the Silk Room, complete with an oval table and glass chandelier surrounded by a teal silk curtain.
Thomas Dubaere, managing director of AccorHotels UK & Ireland commented: “Canary Wharf will be the iconic Novotel for AccorHotels UK & Ireland and aims to become the place to be in the Canary Wharf business area.
“Joining a network of 33 Novotel in the UK, this unique hotel is a shining example of our ambition to create innovative, guest-focused, sustainable accommodation that caters for the changing requirements of the modern-day guest as well as providing first-rate services for the local population.”
The star of the show, however, is BŌKAN – a restaurant-cum-lounge on the upper floors of the hotel.
Canary Wharf can be quite at nights and this space seems to be the place to be now it has joined the market.
With three levels – BŌKAN 37 Restaurant, BŌKAN 38 Bar and BŌKAN 39 Bar & Roof Terrace – in-house and external guests can experience decadent modern European dishes and sip on show-stopping experimental cocktails.
The 360° views across the capital don’t hurt either.
Anglo-Saxon for ‘lighthouse’, BŌKAN, stands as the light at the top of the hotel, encouraging people to interact between floors and the experiences they offer.
It is also a destination restaurant in its own right – and is actually a cut above the rest of the hotel – with a seasonal menu that offers a relaxed take on modern European cuisine, using carefully chosen local British ingredients.
During my visit I was treated to a Hereford 28 day-aged ribeye steak, accompanied by padron peppers, and Roast Jersey Royals, while my guest enjoyed braised Osso buco in curry, with spring carrots, courgettes, and combava.
Both were sensational, and washed down with English Nyetimber sparkling wine, made for a great meal in the mid-price bracket.
Take a look at the full menu here.
Downstairs Canary Coffee opens on the ground floor from 07:00 for those hurrying off to the first meeting of the day.
The outlet serves Climpson & Sons coffee, Joe’s Tea Co and Kokoa collection hot chocolate, as well as artisanal snacks, breakfast bites, cakes and pastries to eat in or take away.
A free library allowing customers to take a book as long as they share one back is available just inside encouraging social interaction.
Upstairs BŌKAN is also open for breakfast, with a full English on offer, as well an extensive range of pastries, fruit, cereals and everything else you would expect.
For those with a little more time on their hands, the pool downstairs offers a great place to relax, while an American-style boxing gym lets your burn off those excess calories.
All in all this a surprisingly upbeat hotel, bringing a touch of colour to an otherwise neglected part of London’s hospitality market.
Novotel London Canary Wharf is a close walk from Canary Wharf underground station, providing easy access to the City, the O2 Arena and Greenwich.
With nine meeting rooms, free Wi-Fi and a pool, it’s the perfect setting for both business and leisure stays.
Find out more on the official website.