We were lucky enough to chat with citizenM's CMO, Robin Chadha, while looking around the ground floor living room, courtyard, and restaurant canteenM. He explained to us how the idea for citizenM was borne out of a frustration with today's hotels and their limitations, so the aim has been to redraw the entire guest experience from scratch.
One of the ways in which you'll encounter this is right when you walk in the front door. Rather than a standard reception desk, there are a number of airport-style check-in kiosks that allow you retrieve your information and personalise your citizenM key card, which doubles as a luggage tag.
citizenM ambassadors combine the roles of front office, back office, and concierge in one (where have we heard that kind of mixing of responsibilities before?) and are on hand to assist you. Your key card is also your gateway to canteenM, but more on that later.
Once you have obtained your key card, there are 192 rooms identical rooms over 7 floors, including a number of rooms for disabled guests. With the idea that guests spend most of their time exploring the city, at work, or in the public spaces, rooms are not big, but they pack a lot in. Each is the width of one of the windows that make up the facade. As you walk in, there is a small, open closet to your right, with a clothing rack and a safe.
Just ahead, you have a vanity with some storage space and a small fridge for any drinks or food you bring in from downstairs or elsewhere. A chair, and small desk with a red cube to sit on, complete the room with the super king-size bed (2m by 2m) at the end. A luggage drawer underneath the bed allows to pack away your suitcase.
Both rain shower and toilet are together in the opaque wet room rather than in the individual tubes we've seen before. An iron is not available in-room, but you will find one in a little dedicated space on each floor.
While you might find less floor space than an ordinary hotel room (although in London's notoriously cramped accommodations that might not always be the case), everything that makes up the room - and the rest of the hotel - is of extremely high quality thanks to a partnership with Vitra, a luxury furniture maker (think iconic Charles & Ray Eames lounge chairs overlooking the hotel courtyard, and Frette linens on the beds).
During the press preview, a couple of rooms were set up to reflect the contemporary citizenM traveller, ranging from a guest in the middle of her yoga routine and a couple on a romantic weekend, to a room filled with flipcharts, post-its, and paperwork of a frantically typing businessman.
The deep-red carpets in the hallway are prints of a map view of London, so you might cross Tower Bridge or walk along Strand on your way to your room.
Is there more to love? Wifi and all movies are still free. Everything in the room, from lights to blinds to the TV, is controlled by a Mood Pad, featuring a custom (and updated) interface that allows you to browse through the various options so easily even the worst technophobe would be happy.
More citizenMs Abound
From its start at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, via a city centre hotel in the same capital (and citizenM's home country), and first international venture in Glasgow, citizenM has now arrived in London. But what's next?
We've already mentioned upcoming properties near St. Paul's Cathedral and at Tower Hill. Three London hotels apparently isn't enough, since Shoreditch is in the pipeline as well. Times Square in New York will be the next hotel to open, most likely early 2013, with the Bowery as another future location.
In Paris, citizenM will return to its airport roots at Roissy - Charles de Gaulle. Beyond that, Asia Pacific, including China and its burgeoning travel market, are a likely expansion target as well.
As promised, we'll take you around the public spaces of citizenM soon. Having just opened, the hotel has availability during the summer months, so if you're still on the hunt for a place to stay during the Olympics, and want the bonus of a fresh new hotel, get to booking! Rates start around the £100 ($155) mark, but will go up to £189 ($293) during the month of August.
[Images: HotelChatter, some images courtesy of citizenM]