London was the city I most recently called home before moving back to my hometown in the northeast of England.
Even after several years of living there, I still have so many areas of the city to discover. So now, when I travel to London for work or to visit friends, I like to base myself in areas of the city I’m not yet familiar with.
The area between the Aldgate and Tower Hill Tube stations to the east of London’s financial center is one of those areas. So, when I heard there was a new Canopy by Hilton hotel opening there, I jumped at the chance to experience a brand-new hotel, as well as spend time in an area of the city I had yet to experience.
The Canopy by Hilton London City is the brand’s first U.K. outpost. In fact, this Hilton brand only has 33 properties at the moment. They can be found in Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Iceland, Mexico, Spain, U.A.E., the U.S., and now the U.K.
After doing some research on the property, and given the state of our planet, I was excited to find out that it places a strong emphasis on making sustainable choices. Some of the hotel’s energy comes from solar panels on the roof, the hotel beds are made from recycled steel and wood from sustainable forests, and the building’s management system is designed to optimize the use of lighting and heating throughout the building to reduce energy waste.
Here’s what I thought of my first-ever stay at a Canopy property in no other than the brand’s debut U.K. property.
Hilton’s new Canopy property is ideally located for visitors popping into the city for business meetings.
The closest Tube station is Aldgate on the Circle and Metropolitan lines, though you won’t necessarily need to take public transit — London’s financial heart is only a brisk 15- to 20-minute walk away.
The location doubles up as a handy spot for tourists, too. Being based out towards the east of London means easier access to nightlife hotspots in the buzzy neighborhood of Shoreditch. The popular tourist attractions of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London are also only a short walk from the hotel.
Inexpensive hotels in London, especially those in desirable locations, are few and far between.
The average room rate I managed for my 2-night stay was £223 (~$290), which is a little on the high side for this area.
Hot Tip: In notoriously expensive cities like London, using points instead of cash for hotel stays can be a great way to spend less money on your vacation. Check out our full guide on earning lots of Hilton Honors points to make your next stay as inexpensive as possible!
When available, I like to check in using a hotel’s app before I arrive. The night before my stay, I was able to do just that with Hilton’s app — and I was even able to select my room!
I was given the option of a room on the first or fifth floor.
I assigned myself room 523, which was a standard Queen Room that I’d booked.
The following day I arrived at the hotel well in advance of the 3 p.m. check-in time, but Liam at the front desk was happy to tell me that my room was ready and waiting for me.
After a few minutes of dealing with system issues, Liam checked me in and upgraded me to a Queen Premium Room thanks to my Hilton Honors Gold elite status. The more premium room would have set me back around £40 (~$52) more per night.
The orange bicycle at reception is a reminder to guests of the complimentary rentals available at the hotel.
The hotel’s main amenity is its gym — an amenity that I actively seek when I’m researching where to stay.
A set of easy-to-follow signposts guided me to the fitness center in the basement of the building.
A so-called “transfer” was also located in the basement — though I’m not sure exactly what that was.
The gym was well-equipped with an adequate selection of cardio and resistance machines, as well as a set of dumbbells up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds).
Towels and water were available for drying off and keeping hydrated. Extra points for the paper cups.
The changing room was clean, bright, and spacious.
There was also an accessible bathroom with a shower and changing area that I’ve not seen before in a hotel.
At the time of my visit in November of 2021, COVID-19 restrictions were still in place in London and the rest of the U.K., but mask-wearing was optional for both guests and staff.
The hotel was so new that I had the privilege of being the first guest to stay in room 915.
How do I know that? The drapes were still fixed to their rails, rendering it impossible to open them.
Opening the drapes and tying them together revealed a spectacular view of 30 St. Mary’s Axe (also known as The Gherkin because of its shape).
I made a quick call to reception and 1 of the hotel’s maintenance staff was sent right up to fix the drapes for me.
Even with Aldgate bus station in plain sight, I just could not get enough of the skyline views against London’s gloriously blue and wintery skies.
By night, the city’s bright lights were a sight to behold.
I loved that depending on where I was in the room, I saw a different slice of London out the window.
Yes, this might be an over-curated shot with the angles but it had to be done to showcase my “office with a view.”
I even went against my rule of not working from my bed just so I could make the most of my city views.
My room felt like a home away from home and was more spacious than I expected for a hotel room in London.
This open storage unit had a lot of space — perfect for those staying for more than a few days with lots of luggage.
There was actually more storage than I knew what do to with.
The storage unit was home to a safe.
An iron and ironing board were discreetly located at the bottom of the storage unit. I love when a hotel supplies these in the room so I don’t have to call to request one!
A hairdryer and laundry bag were contained in a drawer.
A minifridge was hidden away by a cabinet door.
A drink station, complete with a Nespresso machine and a refillable glass bottle for water, was also set out.
On each floor, there was a so-called “Pantry,” where guests could fill up their water bottles and grab some ice.
A slight issue with the tap was that the bottles provided didn’t fit properly underneath, making for a rather wet pantry area on the few times I visited.
Next to the storage unit was a work area with both a desk and floor lamp so that you could adjust the lighting to suit your needs.
I used the desk each morning of my stay to get work done. It helped that the Wi-Fi was great.
Another sign of the room’s newness was that it took a bit of shoving to get the plugs in the sockets!
Above the desk was a mounted 49-inch TV in a quirky display unit.
The little ornaments and art that surrounded the TV were a nice touch and added to the homey feeling of the bedroom.
The centerpiece of the room was the bed. I was the first person to sleep in it, so the mattress was unbelievable.
I know this is a personal preference, but the pillows had the perfect amount of plumpness without being too hard — it was like resting my head on a cloud.
On each side of the bed were small nightstands. Given the amount of storage elsewhere in the room, it didn’t matter that neither of these was without built-in storage.
Power outlets were plentiful. Not only were there 2 on each side of the bed, but the alarm clock had 2 U.K.-compatible sockets, as well as 2 USB-A and 1 USB-C outlets.
The white drapes and thick, blackout floor-to-ceiling curtains made for a dark room and a great night’s sleep. Noise disturbance from the busy street and bus station below was also nonexistent.
Next to the bed was the thermostat for the room.
A final little thoughtful home-away-from-home touch was this little shelf next to the door — perfect for setting your wallet, keys, or purse on so they’re ready to grab when you’re leaving the room.
The bathroom was revealed by sliding open a huge floor-to-ceiling mirror.
Its design reflected the current trends — white tiles with matte black finishes. It’s a design I see a lot in hotels and homes these days, and I have to say it does look good.
I liked the addition of the dark wooden storage unit against the white tiles and vanity.
The fixtures inside the shower were the same matte-black finish, including the powerful rainfall showerhead.
The sink area had a mirror with a built-in light around the edge, a box of tissues, more towels than 1 person could ever need, and the all-important bathroom amenities.
The Canopy’s amenities of choice were by APIVITA. Though they smelled lovely, I think hotels should be opting for refillable bottles in guest rooms rather than throw-away plastic miniatures.
Inside the vanity kit were cotton pads, a nail file, and 2 cotton swabs. Surely there’s no need to wrap individual items in plastic given that they already come in the cardboard packaging?
The soft under-sink light detailing meant the “big lights” could be kept off at night.
Food and Beverage
The Canopy London City has an expansive lobby area with various seating areas fit for working, relaxing, or eating and drinking.
Along the back wall of the lobby area is the hotel’s main bar. I liked that each barstool had its own power outlet — great for remote workers like me.
Alternatively, you could choose from an array of comfier spots to enjoy your drink.
The greens of the plants and some of the furniture popped off against the main color palette, which consisted of beiges, browns, and greys.
Freedom Café — Lobby Bar and Café
The lobby is also home to Freedom Café where you can order drinks and snacks throughout the day from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast and from 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for everything else.
The menu was full of interesting spins on regular dishes that were far more tempting than your average hotel lobby snack menu.
Tempting as these more exciting options were, I decided to go for a melted ham and cheese “toastie.” It was tasty, but not worth the £11.50 (~$15) that I paid for it.
The Freedom Café was also open to non-guests and was clearly trying to pull in passers-by with this sign placed outside:
There was a selection of pastries to choose from.
Also, there was a wide variety of beverages available, including juices, smoothies, and, of course, coffee.
Penny Squares — Restaurant
Due to the pandemic, the hotel’s main restaurant, now named Penny Squares, was only open for breakfast during my visit, though the plan was to launch a dinner service here, too.
Most of the seating was for groups of 2 of 4, but there was also capacity to accommodate larger groups.
At the far end of the restaurant was the hot buffet area where you could request made-to-order eggs.
Everything else you’d expect from a breakfast buffet could be found on the other side of the wall.
Monika at breakfast was lovely and offered to make eggs Benedict for me, even though they didn’t officially serve them.
I’d say that the dishes available at the hotel’s breakfast buffet were a level or 2 up in quality and imagination than you might be used to at a hotel breakfast buffet.
It was more like choosing from a selection of à la carte dishes, just without the menu. For example, hot dishes offered included individual shakshuka-style fried eggs (rather than normal fried eggs).
Sumac portobello mushrooms were on offer.
The tapioca potato hash was a spin on traditional hashbrowns.
Soft-boiled eggs featured za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend.
However, you could also choose from some breakfast classics, including bacon and sausages.
And for those wanting something a little lighter, there were numerous cold options available, including cold cuts, salads, and smoked salmon.
A selection of cheeses was displayed.
Berries, dried fruits and nuts, cereals, and yogurts were plentiful.
Individual pots of yogurt were topped with granola and berries.
Pastries, muffins, English muffins, and bagels were available…
…as well as a large selection of breads, butter and jellies, and more pastries.
Even more fruit and yogurt were also available for grabbing.
There was also plenty to drink, including 4 flavors of freshly squeezed juice…
…and gluten-free oat milk, almond milk, and whole milk.
Coffee was self-service from a bean-to-cup machine.
And 5 varieties of Newby teas were offered.
So, what did I eat, you ask? Well, you may be shocked to know that I strayed a little farther from my usual DIY ham and cheese on toast and made myself a DIY eggs Royale instead. I toasted an English muffin, ordered some poached eggs (for some reason the chef cooked me 4!), added some smoked salmon on top, and threw some portobello mushrooms on the side for a delicious breakfast feast.
Though I did start with a bowl of fruit — some habits die hard.
Florattica — Rooftop Bar (Not Yet Open)
The only disappointing part of my stay at the Canopy by Hilton London City was that its rooftop bar, Florattica, was still under construction.
On the 11th floor, along with a few of the hotel’s best rooms, Florattica is sure to boast some spectacular views of London’s skyline. I did a quick check online while I was writing this review, and it looks like it’s still yet to open.
Being the nosy hotel reviewer that I am, I wanted to see if I could get a sneak peek. So, I snuck up to the top floor, which still clearly had some finishing touches left to be made.
I’ll be sure to visit Florattica once it finally opens.
In all honesty, interactions with staff during my stay were few and far between as I was out and about and busy most of the time.
However, on my first day, I did receive a call from Alberto at reception to make sure everything was OK with the room. This was a nice touch, and something I’d expect more from a 5-star hotel. Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to Jasmin at the front desk who was happy to authorize a 1 p.m. checkout time for me as well.
Most of my interactions were with Monika, who was on hand at breakfast each morning with a smile and infectiously positive energy. Matyas was also at breakfast every morning, and I always saw him making sure every guest had everything they needed — a good sign for the future of this hotel.
The Canopy by Hilton London City is a great addition to Hilton’s London portfolio.
At first, I thought this hotel might be best suited for city slickers and those visiting London for meetings. But after my 2 nights here, I would also recommend the hotel as an option for anyone who wants something a bit different when visiting London.
I loved the design of the room and all its homey touches. It was a far cry from some of the cookie-cutter Hilton rooms I’ve stayed in before.
Hilton’s Canopy brand is certainly one I will aim to stay in again.