The Stratford: A 21st-Century Hotel for East London
A few years ago, over dinner with a friend who had recently moved to Stratford from Hackney, we concluded ‘Stratford was the new Shoreditch’ based on house prices and, less economically provable but no less relevant, the number of beardy men with man buns among her new neighbours.
A few years later the same friend comes to meet me for a drink at The Stratford hotel, which just opened in July behind Westfield Stratford shopping centre. Some of the Olympic-era redevelopment was less than sensitive to residents of the area, however this latest addition highlights the focus on investment for tourism and entertainment.
The Stratford occupies the bottom seven storeys of a chunky L-shaped double-cantilevered, 135-metre tower with a rust-coloured steel exterior designed by SOM (the architects behind Burj Khalifa in Dubai and One World Trade Center in New York). The Stratford is owned by the Manhattan Loft Corporation, the same British developer who breathed new life into the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in King’s Cross and the Chiltern Firehouse. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the seventh-floor restaurant, Allegra is headed up by former Chiltern Firehouse head chef Patrick Powell.
Based on 1950s New York long-stay hotels, The Stratford's 145 rooms could easily seembland, swathed in natural shades (soft creams and greys) enlivened with a coral bed throw here or sage tub-chairs there. But the quality is evident with interiors by Danish designers Space Copenhagen (NOMA), who worked their magic to ensure each space feels well-established, as if the furniture was made in the era it pays homage to. Essentially, we're talking the glamour of the ‘Mad Men’-era in East London. If you want to move in or stay for longer than night, The Stratford Lofts are a contender for Airbnb’s place - a collection of furnished, rental loft apartments for shorter long stays (a week to three months) or longer long stays (six to 12 months).
Bathrooms are simple and classic with grey and white marble, a high-end hotel cliche, which seems just right here, with contrasting fittings such as black showerheads, mid-century-style brass triptych mirrors and stone vanity units topped with 100% recyclable toxin-free free REN toiletries. Long, wispy drapes skim the floors topped by subtle backlighting my partner and I struggled to turn off prompting a midnight call to reception. Remember to double click the switch. Easy, when you know how.
Legendary New York hotels aren’t just places to stay, they are places where legendary things happen. With this in mind, the Stratford has been designed as the East London equivalent, a localised cultural hub tapping into ‘a vertical community’ with live music, lifestyle and fitness events. Pilates and yoga are already in full flow on the hotel’s top-floor roof garden, along with ConBody, a workout devised in New York’s Rikers Island prison cell and honed at Saks 5th Avenue.
The ground floor Stratford Brasserie and terrace feature a seasonal sharing-style menu by Ben Harrington, formerly of Soho House. It’s a warm August night so we sit on a slightly hard bench on the terrace, facing Stratford International station, sipping Prosecco. A beautifully presented collection of dishes begins with a comforting bowl of milky burrata with chargrilled courgettes and pine nuts and Scottish scallops with a jewel-like salad. Then came crispy pan-fried sea bass with a deep red smudge of pepper sauce and a pretty courgette flower. We finish by picking at a few British cheeses including handmade Kentish Blue and creamy Rosary Ash goats' cheese and biscuits.
When we’re full we can notice our surroundings. The restaurant interior features a massive glass-encased fireplace and an art installation called ‘Gust of Wind’ by Paul Cocksedge, a clever piece of art that matches the monochrome colour scheme whilst looking like black and white paper has been thrown into the air like college caps. Design details from top to bottom: we eat breakfast underneath it the next noticing how even the mugs containing a good hot latte are pleasing to hold although mushrooms on sourdough too salty (the full English was spot on).
East London has always been my favourite part of the city and New York with its diverse districts my favourite part of the US, so for me, this hotel is a win, win.
*Double rooms from £199 room only, thestratford.com Greater Anglia runs regular services to London Liverpool Street. Adult single fares from £5, children travel for £2 with an adult and under fives travel for free. Tickets can be bought online from Greater Anglia or via the Greater Anglia app.