A not so typical stay in London, Jill Nash heads East to explore the unexpected delights of Canary Wharf and Greenwich.
Canary Wharf is one of London’s famous financial areas and doesn’t really need introducing. What many don’t realise is this used to be a vibrant port area; it’s scattered with historical buildings and contrasts with the modern business skyscrapers in an incredibly fascinating way. The area draws suited office workers from Monday to Friday and is often avoided by many real Londoners, but there is a lot to see and do in the area for tourists.
Quirky interiors, curved wooden structures and industrial concrete textures set the Lincoln Plaza Hotel apart from the dull, soulless business buildings nearby. The hotel (part of the Curio Collection by Hilton) is vibrantly decorated and complete with thoughtful light and spacious zones, it feels cozy and welcoming. It’s bustling during the week, yet quieter on weekends – the best time for families and friends to visit. The hotel is perfectly located for access local attractions, whether it’s a stroll to Greenwich, an O2 arena experience or spotting the Cutty Sark – all are within a 15 to 20-minute walk away.
The Lincoln Plaza Hotel has 129 rooms and suites spread from the first floor to the eleventh, and being slightly out of central London, you get a lot for your money. The smallest room isn’t poky at all, and the soft furnishings, rusty tones and bespoke, abstract art demonstrate there has been some thought and personality given to the design.
A generous complimentary gin cocktail – with spices and mixes to suit your taste buds – welcomes you into in your room.Steamed, white linen dresses the beds, which are just the right size and balance. There’s no desk, but a coffee table does the job if you need to work. A smart television, minibar, pod coffee machine and a kettle for making tea complete the amenities. The modern bathrooms are tiled in white and light grey marble, have large rainfall showers and mirrors lit by LEDs. Families are welcome and the hotel has 11 interconnecting rooms for those needing the extra space, children’s menus, cots, bottle warmers and high chairs. For those looking to keep fit, there’s a 24-hour fitness centre, pool with jacuzzi, steam room and scheduled classes in the studio.
Drink & Dine
If you wander downstairs in the hotel and through the Food Store, you’ll be greeted by eager staff at Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen. Headed by chef and TV personality Cyrus Todiwala, the restaurant promises to serve a fusion of regional Indian street food in a high-end setting. The eccentric interior includes striking centrepieces; hanging copper pots, pans and a wooden elephant.
The dishes are inspired by Mr. Todiwala’s home city, Bombay, and entwined with cuisine from his ancestral Parsee community. Interestingly, each dish has a little story of origin, which makes the menu a great read. The mouth-watering starter platter for two (£18.75) is a good place to begin, and there is not your average samosa in sight. The bites are insanely bursting of flavours and leave you with a thirst for more. The gourmet tasting menu (£70 pp) is a firm option for those who feel overwhelmed by choice. The dishes arrive at your table as they are cooked, and although it can turn out to be a long evening, its most definitely worth the wait. Top dish highlights are the tadka daal, (a spin on the tarka dhal) and the shank of lamb bhuna.
If you didn’t already start the evening with a cocktail in the Jack Speak bar, then head there after your meal (it’s upstairs from the restaurant) to enjoy the Old-World ambience of a naval officer’s mess and sink into a leather Chesterfield. This place is open until 2am, so the perfect place for an after-show drink if you’ve been to the O2. Try a Dirty Merchant (cognac shaken with port) or a Salty Spritz (Aperol and cognac).
The Food Store can’t be missed, with all that hanging cheese and meats. This casual all-day dining spot serves seasonal menus that span grazing plates (charcuterie, cheese), wood-fired pizza and catch of the day from nearby Billingsgate Market. Breakfast is served here too, which encompasses pastries from the deli, cereals and fruit, a selection of teas and coffee, and a full à la carte selection, or the chef is happy to make up a plate of eggs and toast.
Experience & Explore
The Lincoln Plaza hotel is bang in the middle of the commercial hub and a short stroll away from the heart of Canary Wharf. The O2 is 15 minutes door to door, so if you’re catching a show or live performance, then this is the perfect place to stay. For those looking for shopping experiences, the ICON Outlet at The O2 is a mega shopping complex with over 60 brands with up to 70% off, and the ExCeL London is only 20 minutes away for some of the world largest exhibitions and events.
The Cutty Sark is an award-winning attraction located in nearby Greenwich, the celebrated historic sailing ship (known as a tea clipper) and the fastest of its time, makes an excellent family day out. You can climb aboard, explore the ship and meet the crew. You can also enjoy an afternoon tea in the unique surroundings beneath the Cutty Sark’s copper-plated hull (adult prices from £13.50 | children, £6.75). Team this with a trip to the National Maritime Museum, which has loads of fun activities for kids and four new galleries to while away a few hours, and you won’t be disappointed. Entry to the museum is free.
Greenwich Market (dating back to 1737) is London’s only historic market set within a World Heritage Site, it’s open 7 days a week and has a large indoor market with up to 120 stalls selling antiques, arts and trinkets. At Christmas, this place lights up beautifully and it’s lovely to wander around with a cup of cocoa in your hand.
Lincoln Plaza London, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Double rooms from £129 in low season and from £179 in high. Breakfast from £4.99. Free Wi-Fi. Visit curiocollection3.hilton.com/en for more information or telephone 020 7987 1157.