The Montcalm London City at the Brewery
52 Chiswell St.; London; montcalm.co.uk; 44-0-207-614-0100. 170 rooms from $215. No eco rating.
The Montcalm London City's location – deep in London's financial district – is everything.
Home of the London Stock Exchange, the city competes with New York and Hong Kong as the world financial centre. More than 500 banks have offices here, as well as countless other financial industry firms, global companies and law offices. The Montcalm London City is a hotel that caters perfectly to business travellers, not only by its location, but with butler service in some suites and rooms, and an executive club lounge.
Yet the stylish new hotel, located in a listed heritage edifice that once housed the Whitbread & Co. brewery, has as much to offer the non-business traveller. Though perhaps too close to the brutalist Barbican, it makes up for it as a meticulously appointed refuge just a few minutes walk from St. Paul's Cathedral, and across the Millennium footbridge from the Tate Modern. Those seeking deals in the shops of Mayfair will find it nearly as convenient a base as those looking for deals on the London Stock Exchange.
The Montcalm London City is a thoroughly contemporary upscale hotel built in a string of low-rise 18th-and 19th-century brick buildings. Beer was brewed on the site from 1750 until 1976, and, though the hops are gone, the hotel makes no effort to hide its origins. Rather, the design celebrates it. The brick vaults in the lobby are exposed, and the lounge resides in what might have been a converted clerk's room. If anything, such nods to heritage only emphasize its clean, contemporary design.
The Montcalm London City's 235 guest rooms are luxurious, with no detail overlooked, and many others not contemplated by most guests. Each is armed with deluxe entertainment systems and Gessi rain showers. Guests have the improbable option of a light show in the shower timed to music. Each room also has its own fragrance dispenser blowing a mist of your choice: grapefruit, lavender or fresh grass. Befitting a business hotel, there are iPod docking stations, the WiFi is free, as are snacks in the executive club lounge.
Service is enthusiastic, attentive and friendly. The Montcalm London City opened in 2011, so the hires are new, young and eager to please. The thrill of the opening is still palatable.
The Chiswell Street Dining Room, a destination restaurant that provides room service in the hotel as well, is open all day and boasts a classic British menu, sourced from local suppliers, including Billingsgate Market. Dinner entrées include roast Yorkshire wood pigeon, Lincolnshire eel, and Cornish brill. The space is minimalist, with wood panelling and olive leather chairs, but the large windows provide light creating a comfortable space. The popular adjacent bar fills up quickly in the late afternoon, and while the din can make conversation a challenge, the atmosphere is warm and the food exquisite.
The Montcalm London City at the Brewery is an exceptional new hotel with a rather too long name. Its location makes it a sure winner, but it would be so even if it were located less centrally.