travel

The Gantry hotel in London review: 'Cosmopolitan brilliance'

Boasting sophisticated decor and staggering views of the entire city, this architectural marvel is a jewel in the crown of Stratford

2022-08-05

Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: Provided
 
A decade after London 2012, a stroll through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park still generates feelings of pride, awe, and wonder – is there a building in the English capital cooler than the London Aquatics Centre?

To be fair, at this stage in the Stratford Town Centre Masterplan regeneration project, the area positively teems with eye-catching new builds, of which the 291-room Gantry London, Curio Collection by Hilton is a recent addition.

This sleek four star is impossible to ignore. Upon seeing it from a distance, curiosity instantly ignited, I noted how the light shades of brown flecking the exterior make it appear as if made of matchsticks.At 18 storeys, the Gantry towers over nearby buildings, and as such you can admire its pleasingly strange silhouette - gently curved but somehow jaggedly angular at the same time - unobstructed when approaching from multiple directions.

This is what’s so great about post-makeover Stratford: it’s a sprawling, futuristic cityscape, but a sparse one; somewhere you can actually breathe, and flooded with gorgeous light at sunset. As opposed to the squashed-in oppressiveness of new tech capital King’s Cross (if anywhere oozes the eeriness of gentrification, it’s there, not Stratford) or the increasingly passé-looking Canary Wharf.
Speaking of sunsets, there was an impressive one on display the night of Attitude’s stay at the Gantry back in spring 2022. Although we couldn’t enjoy it via the panoramic view from the 18th-floor rooftop restaurant, bar, and terrace, which wasn’t finished at that point. (Having opened last year, the hotel as a whole has an excitingly box-fresh feel.)

Not to worry: the floor-to-ceiling windows in our plush room captured plenty of golden rays - and a superb view of the mind-bending Manhattan Loft Gardens building just yonder - albeit hindered by the aforementioned ‘matchsticks’, or pillars.


I liked this design feature, though: rather than feeling cage-like, there’s something comforting in how the hotel’s robust structure is nakedly on display. Having Googled the definition of 'gantry' (essentially a construction term for a framework) I suspect even the hotel's name leans into this quality. If there was ever a big earthquake in London, this is where I’d want to be!

Nice touches in the room included a 49” HD TV, a Marshall speaker and five star hotel-worthy Grown Alchemist toiletries. My room had a coolly austere colour palette - creams, coppers, dirty blueish greys – whereas the reception area is a delightfully jumbled affair: all natural light, plants, coffee table books and plenty of brashly-coloured furnishing. Think Monica’s apartment in Friends circa 2022 on a bigger budget.


Come to think of it, I was checked by a warm and charismatic young lady who emanated Friends energy. There’s a laid-back, conversational approach to service throughout; that said, everyone's on the ball, from wait staff to master mixologists.
 
The Union Social dining spot on the first floor is, aesthetically-speaking, somewhere between the bedrooms and reception: casual, but achingly cosmopolitan. Again, windows dominate the space, inviting the twinkling lights of the city as your dining companion. A wraparound terrace, sparkling cocktail bar and open kitchen are as per some of the city’s biggest statement restaurants. With a space this design-led, the temptation might have been to go for impenetrably pretentious cuisine, but Executive Chef Salvatore Coco's globally inspired all-day menu is actually affordable, not to mention better quality than the food at myriad trendy East London eateries.

My most expensive dish, at £19, was the pan-seared scallops with confit Jerusalem artichoke puree, served with roasted tenderstem broccoli, smoked paprika oil, scallion, and cilantro. (This is creative, not pretentious!) It was exceptional and delicate - but an added carb element wouldn't have gone amiss! That said, small plates preceded it, including rosemary focaccia - as if baked in Italy that morning – plus crispy paneer with mango chutney and lime: one of my favourite dishes of this year. Also artfully presented are the puddings, particularly the beyond rich apple and cinnamon mess [pictured above], finished with amaretti crumble, candied almonds and vanilla custard.
 
We haven't seen it for ourselves, but it would be remiss of us not to mention the new Hermanos Colombian coffee roasters bar on the ground floor. Another plus: the unbeatable location, just minutes by foot from Stratford's transport hub, Westfield shopping mall and, of course, the park. Don’t miss the ArcelorMittal Orbit spiral sculpture or, if you're an ABBA fan, the Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Björn avatars at ABBA Arena, seven minutes from the hotel by car.
 
For more information, visit thegantrylondon.com.