Sky-high Cocktails at Hyatt Place London City East

Mark Bibby Jackson stays at the Hyatt Place London City East, and discovers a wonderful new hotel with breath-taking views and excellent cocktails

Europe, Gastronomy, Reviews

On his visit to London’s East End, Mark Bibby Jackson stays at the Hyatt Place London City East, and discovers a wonderful new hotel with breath-taking views and excellent cocktails that is forging close links with the local community.

When the Hyatt Place London City East opened earlier this summer in East London right next to Aldgate East station, the general reaction seemed to be positive. This was a hotel “designed … to reflect this incredibly diverse and culturally-rich part of London,” promised its general manager Michael Mason-Shaw.”

Knowing the area well – my grandparents were born and grew up in East London – I was keen to discover on my recent visit to the London’s East End whether the property lived up to the hype.

A Luxurious Room with a View

Hyatt Place London City East
My room with a view

First impressions are always important, especially when checking into a hotel. Seamlessly, I drifted up to my eighth floor room and found myself magnetically drawn to the window. For outside I had a small terrace area with a couple of chairs where I could quite literally look up, down and across London. To my left was the City in all its gleaming brilliance, with The Gherkin standing centre stage.

The Hyatt Place London City East has 280 rooms of which 100 have exceptional views according to the literature, but surely few can compare with the one I was gifted. I could have willingly lingered here all afternoon sipping coffee from my complimentary machine, but I had a theatre appointment to watch on the other side of town – Is God Is at the Royal Court in Sloane Square.

London’s Street Art

 Jay Kaes has created a London Underground inspired mural
Jay Kaes has created a London Underground inspired mural

Before its launch, Hyatt Place London City East commissioned a series of London-based street artists to bring their art into the hotel.

Two abstract-style murals with intricate geometry, created by Brixton-based abstract artist and Concord Art Prize finalist Olly Fathers, decorate the reception area. Next to the Zoom restaurant, London-based mural artist, Jay Kaes has created a London Underground inspired mural. The design is intended to reflect the neighbourhood’s colourful personality.

It is to the latter that I am drawn later that evening as I return from the theatre for dinner at Zoom restaurant.

The artwork is part of the hotels continuing mission to be part of the local community, Mason-Shaw explains to me later in the evening while we chat at the hotel’s Pocketsquare Skyline Bar and Terrace. It certainly makes a striking impression. Expect a lot more of innovative and participatory artwork over the forthcoming months commissioned by the hotel’s impressive and visionary general manager.

Dining at Zoom Restaurant
harissa roasted aubergine dish served with goat’s cheese
Harissa roasted aubergine dish served with goat’s cheese

With such wonderful street food literally on its doorstep it seemed a pity to eat in the hotel, but after enjoying some excellent Bangladeshi fish and a couple of the best samosas I have ever tasted on Whitechapel High Street the night before I was prepared to go up a couple of notches.

My dinner at Zoom was excellent. My starter, a harissa roasted aubergine dish served with goat’s cheese, cherry tomatoes and figs was rather special. According to Mason-Shaw, the dish was the first presented by the hotel’s future head chef Norbert Olah when he applied for the position. Both dish and chef passed the test. It was definitely one of the best renditions of my favourite vegetable offering both a smokiness and a slight spice that sent my taste buds tingling. The harissa sauce was home-made. I think Mason-Shaw made a sound choice.

This was followed by an excellent sea bass fillet served on mashed potatoes with asparagus.

The sea bass was a healthy portion perfectly cooked and the asparagus was excellent. I concluded with a very creamy tiramisu.

Pocketsquare Skyline Bar

Enjoying the view from Pocketsquare Skyline Bar and Terrace
Enjoying the view from Pocketsquare Skyline Bar and Terrace

Fortunately for those guest not staying in a room with my wonderful view, the hotel also possesses the 9th floor Pocketsquare Skyline Bar and Terrace.

If anything the view from here overlooking Canary Wharf is even more spectacular than the one on the opposite side. As the urban skyline twinkles with lights, it really is quite amazing. Few buildings can offer one yet alone both views.

It is here that I head to in order to enjoy some of the hotel’s signature cocktails, while chatting with Mason-Shaw.

Hyatt Place London City East Bespoke Cocktails

The cocktails created by Bar Manager Kristian Smith reflect the local community. For instance my first cocktail, the Eyrie includes a porter reduction in reference to the Truman Brewery just around the corner on Brick Lane where the first porter was produced. This is mixed with a 12-year-old Macallan whisky and pear and thyme puree. Both the flavour of the chocolate (from the porter reduction) and the pear come through clearly, however I am not sure what my stepfather would have said at the idea of using such a quality spirit in a cocktail.

Each concoction is paired with a suggested small bite. For instance the Eyrie is matched with a salt beef slider, a further reference to the local area which has always been renowned for its salt beef still on sale at one of the bagel shops in Brick Lane. A salt beef sandwich was one of my grandmother’s favourite meals, and she would often travel here from Canning Town to sample it.

A Marketa before bedtime
A Marketa before bedtime

I doubt that my grandmother would have managed to drink one let alone two of Smith’s excellent cocktails. But never one to shirk a challenge – or refuse a recommendation – I concluded my evening following Mason-Shaw’s advice by having a Sedition, a mix of Hendricks gin, Absinthe, white port, champagne acid and herbal salt.

At first I felt as if I had just been kicked by a mule, but gradually as my mouth became acquainted with the sensation, I began to detect the citrus flavours of the champagne acid and the saltiness of the herbal salt. If you like your cocktails sickly sweet then Sedition is not for you. However, if you like them a bit on a sour side and complex then like me you will grow to love it.

The extremely helpful bartender Jan Luca explained that one tree is planted for every bottle of vodka sold, so while you are enjoying the wonderful creations you are also doing your little bit for the planet. They also try to minimise waste, for instance by blending the almond croissants left over from breakfast to create the almond syrup used in the cocktails.

One of the wonderful aspects of London’s East End is its continuous evolution. The area’s vibrancy derives from this constant state of flux, whether it be on the cultural or culinary level.

Mason-Shaw says, “with so many attractions on our doorstep, it’s a privilege to be a new member of this community.” I think that the feeling should be mutual.

Returning to my room with one last cocktail – a Marketa a mix of Maker’s Mark, 1757 rosso and roasted pineapple which reflects the area’s long market history – I once more step out on my terrace to enjoy the view. One thing is for sure I will return, for the Hyatt Place London City East is a place that definitely merits repeat visits, and there are still several untested cocktails on the list.

Hyatt Place London City East

Black Lion House, 45 Whitechapel Road, London , E1 1DU


T: +44 (0) 20 8159 1234.

Standard rooms from £97. Balcony rooms from £172. Terrace rooms from £222.

Article originally published in our sister website: London Begins at 40.

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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