Town Hall Hotel
Neighborhood: Bethnal Green
Patriot Sqaure; London, United Kingdom
+44 20 7871 0460
Sometimes the perfect remedy to being in the heart of a city for an art fair, especially one like Frieze London, is to stay a little bit away from the center of it. That's exactly what I did during this year's edition of the fair, on a trip organized by VisitBritain, by staying at the charming old-meets-new hotel in Bethnal Green, Town Hall.
It's no secret that the east end of London is bubbling with cool kids and more locals than tourists. Town Hall is definitely a local Londoner's favorite, with two restaurants, The Corner Room and Viajante Restaurant, that both have excellent bars and unique menus. The outdoor architecture is Grecian and idyllic with a marble lobby full of vintage accents. You feel like you're entering a cross between luxurious condos and your friend's cozy apartment with slick yet rustic furniture finds.
This intersection of style and design within the entry makes sense, because Town Hall has both hotel rooms and rentals. During my time there, I stayed in a one-bedroom flat that I would have easily moved into if given the option. Maybe it was the English breakfast I got after the first chaotic day and night at the art fairs, or maybe it was the chic glass separating the bedroom from the bathtub and the entryway from the kitchen. Maybe it was the TV that turned on automatically the moment I came in. Maybe it was the comfortable bed and couch that could be seen from one another, or not, thanks to warm, wooden sliding doors. Maybe it was the espresso machine, full kitchen, and laundry machine that I used regularly. Of course, it was all of these things.
These days, it's not enough to be a "cool" hotel, even in a "cool" part of town, and Town Hall gets that. Making a hotel feel like home is important, and making one feel like they want to stay because they can do everything there that they could in their own home (except with a cleaning service and more stunning interiors), is important. I have to stress that it didn't have a members club vibe, which is good, even with a pool and gym that stay open until midnight and all the aforementioned amenities. It truly felt like a place I lived in for four days instead of a place I just passed through and napped in when I wasn't covering art fairs.
And speaking of work, the art didn't stop at Frieze. The hotel's art collection was superb, featuring pieces by Balint Bolygo, Zoe Mendelson, Walkwalkwalk, Toby Christian, Corinne Felgate, and others. Curated by Artsadmin, the pieces are just as much a compliment to Town Hall as they are a tribute to the vibrant creative community in East London.
I've stayed in a lot of hotels, from those as small and cozy as a dorm room to the occasional penthouse. Town Hall is such a happy medium, and the energy is contagious. A friend of mine who lives in London stopped by and was blown away; even for a local, it was a hidden gem. An unexpected benefit of the hotel's location was it being a short 15-minute walk to Shoreditch's lively bars, lounges, and (if you're like me) street art. It was also right by Bethnal Green Gardens and the V&A Museum of Childhood.
Everyone wants a different hotel experience, but if you're seeking style, comfort, and charm without the painful price tag or a barrage of tourists, consider Town Hall. I know I'll do whatever I can to get back there, that's for sure.