I popped into the Town Hall Hotel for a ‘posh coffee’, after being tipped-off about this destination hotel from a number of fashion brands hosting events here. You always know you’re in for a visual treat if the fashion set favour a place.
The boutique hotel is a triumph of restoration design, reviving Bethnal Green’s old council offices. It’s smothered in marble foyers, Art Deco panelled corridors – complete with jelly mould Bakelite light fixtures, imposing stone staircases and modern art that holds your attention and captures your imagination. The original Edwardian and Art Deco interiors of the 1910 building are enhanced further by artfully chosen hip stylised vintage furniture. I had a thoroughly enjoyable nose around.
The original council chamber is still in place, complete with its horseshoe of green leather chairs, fold down wooden desks and two entrances – one for the ayes, and one for the no’s. It would make a perfectly quirky setting for a private event.
Finding somewhere to actually have my coffee at 3.30pm on a Thursday (surely prime afternoon tea time?) proved comically hard. Each member of staff I spoke to was friendly and helpful, and yet it took four attempts and four different people questioned before I located the lounge on the first floor, and ascertained that, yes, a hot drink could be procured. Wandering through the old corridors and pushing through door after door, I did begin to feel like I was stuck in a bureaucratic Kafkaesque nightmare. Albeit a fabulously styled one. For the love of caffeine – I only want a hot chocolate! The hotel feels more geared up for residents, and lunch and dinner guests, but I’d still recommend popping in for tea just to see the building. A cappuccino costs £3,00, which is incredibly competitive when compared to hotels of a similar standing in the West End or North London.
The lounge itself (first photo), which led onto the council chamber, was all dark wood and lead windows, studded leather sofas and reclaimed furniture – like hanging out in a Mad Men Gentleman’s club. When I go back, I’m wearing my best fifties frock.
Ordering a snack again proved tricky. Cake wasn’t an option. Faced with a plate of meat and cheese (more suited to cocktails) I chose the only available alternative: spiced rice crackers. They came with a generous bowl of chicken mayo to dunk in. It all tasted delicious, though eating them was nibbles Russian Roulette: overloading the delicate crackers with dip risked them breaking en route to your mouth and splattering mayo over your legs like ‘cum’. I only managed to do this three times, which is fair testament to how delicious they were. Worth the risk, and the stain reminded me of an excellent afternoon.
Further information on the Town Hall Hotel can be found here.