I’m very particular about hotels. I dislike anything run down or that looks like I’m shacking up with a lover, running away from a marriage to a sleezy motel. And don’t get me started on ugly carpets… I can’t stand ugly carpets.
Don’t get me wrong, I can do basic, and it’s necessary to do basic when you’re on a budget. But is it so wrong to want somewhere that has a vibe, an atmosphere, and still be affordable?
That’s when we found CitizenM Hotel in London. My American boyfriend came to visit for the long bank holiday weekend and we wanted a weekend of privacy (I’m living at home with the parents). After what seemed like months of searching, we signed up to be a ‘Citizen’ on the CitizenM website, got our discount, and there we had it.
Initially I thought the picture of the room showed it to be quite small… but when I walked in, I was so pleasantly surprised. The room, yes, is quite small, but there’s enough walking space, and its mainly filled up by that MASSIVE bed. And I mean massive. That pleased me way more than a few extra square feet.
Now for the main feature. The lights. In the room, there’s a pod, encasing your shower and toilet. This pod is so central and focal to the room because it turns different colours. Each room has a tablet from which you can control the colour of the pod from a nifty colour wheel (you can also tweet, go on Facebook or the internet generally) – OR, you can click onto ‘Moods’ and choose anything from ‘Relaxing’ to ‘Romantic’. Not only does this change the lights, but puts on music and a little matching theme pops up on the TV. It’s so brilliant, you can’t help but smile – even if the ‘Romantic’ setting slightly resembles something out of a cheesy porno (not that bad, though) – but that’s the thing. They know it’s silly, they’re not pretentious. It’s fun, and still stylish. How many hotels can say that these days?
We had a lot of fun with the lights. We took turns in the shower pod with the other person changing them while we were inside. We took showers with the lights on the setting where they change through the colours. It was insanely trippy.
A note of caution about the pod: you have to be pretty intimate with someone to share this room, as it’s kind of see-through. It is clouded over glass, but you can still see an outline of someone doing their business, and forget about the notion of a lock on the door. The key is to embrace it, make a joke out of it. And the lights help you do exactly that, really.
Down the spiral staircase and into the lobby, it’s a genuine paradise for me. Travel quotes line the corridors; bookshelves up to the ceiling rammed with books and random bits and bobs; oddly shaped chairs; a bar slap bang in the middle; and a little cocoon of an outside patio, with hanging lights and the sense that you’re in a canteen jungle. There’s something to look at everywhere, and as I darted my eyes from one wall to another, I realised my mind hadn’t been so alert and stimulated in a while.
5 or 10 minutes walk from Southbank or 20 minutes to London Bridge and close to the Tate, CitizenM Southbank is in a really central location with good connections. Across the road is one of my favourite restaurants, The Refinery – especially on a sunny day when you can have drinks outside. I’ve even sat here while they placed a screen outdoors showing Wimbledon with lots of deck chairs last summer. Ideal weekend getaway? I think so.
Letting you all know: I wasn’t a guest of CitizenM; they didn’t pay for my stay. I actually really do love this place as much as it sounds.