Bermondsey Square Hotel and the Bermondsey Antiques Market:
A charming part of London, Bermondsey is somewhere that would probably not have been on your radar twenty years ago or so. There are several parts of London which, when I first moved here, were so unfashionable as to be totally unknown even to someone as démodé as me. Rather than a hip area with great bars and restaurants, East London was somewhere for curry and bagels (it still is – but it’s become so much more these days). And, as I remember, Bermondsey didn’t even have that. I don’t believe I ventured into that part of London until about 8 years ago when the area enjoyed something of a renaissance. It’s now home to some great wine bars and restaurants and to WSET, the wine and spirits education trust where you can learn as much or as little as you want about alcohol through a whole variety of courses. And, on Fridays, there’s an excellent Antiques Market, set in Bermondsey Square.
It’s an historic part of London with cobbled streets and a wealth of original warehouses and shops, stunning churches and garden squares.
Bermondsey Square Hotel takes one side of a predominantly modern square with a cinema and supermarket just across the way. Since the hotel doesn’t sell alcohol but is happy to allow guests to bring their own, that isn’t bad positioning. It’s a quiet location, a fifteen-minute walk from the nearest tube, London Bridge. And, the rooms on offer range from budget (just over £100 a night including breakfast) to suites on the top floor priced at around £400 a night, one of which comes with its own rooftop hot tub. There’s an all-day dining restaurant and even free tea and coffee in the lounge area (whether or not you are staying at the hotel) at certain times of the day.
I went along to check the hotel out and to be in the right place for the Friday Antiques Market which starts from early in the morning.
My Superior Room offered excellent value for London – with prices starting at just £119 a night. It did feel functional rather than luxurious but still seemed quite spacious.
Exceptionally clever design meant that there was a well thought out workstation, a separate, though tiny dressing table with hairdryer and a large comfy bed.
A contemporary styled hotel, the floor to ceiling windows meant that even on one of the greyest days so far this year, the room felt light and airy, and as it looked out over the square, it was very quiet. Storage was limited but there was a fridge stocked with water and a kettle for tea and coffee.
The bathroom had a Grohe rainwater shower and eco-boutique toiletries.
Service was friendly during the day but appeared to be a bit disjointed. Each room has a sign on the desk suggesting that if you want fresh milk rather than UHT for your tea or coffee to ask at reception. Personally, I much prefer fresh milk but I knew I wouldn’t be back till a lot later in evening. I left the hotel at 4 pm asking for milk to be left in the fridge in my room for when I returned so I could make a late night cup of coffee. When I got back the milk not there, and the night manager appeared not to have any record of it having been ordered. When I finally convinced him to send up some milk it came in a half pint glass. At past 11 pm I wasn’t in any mood to ask for it to be replaced. I just wanted to get into bed!
By the morning when I got up for breakfast, the stall holders were already setting up, despite Storm Brian causing some disruption. The breakfast offering itself was nicely presented and reasonably comprehensive. A wide selection of baked goods, cereals, fruits and yoghurts with some nice local touches like Bermondsey Honey for your bread.
The a-la-carte options looked good, although though for my own personal taste a little egg-centric. I prefer savoury to sweet if I am going to eat a hot breakfast and while there was a splendid selection of eggs every which way and the option of a vegetarian cooked breakfast, there was nothing much else. There’s no pork on the menu either so bacon is replaced by turkey rashers and sausages are either chicken and tarragon or vegetarian.
Of course, I could have had the avo toast without the poached egg – but in the interest of research I ordered the full thing and actually quite enjoyed the mixture of perfectly runny yolk and fresh avocado. The all-day dining menu is similarly free of pork products and offers a good range of English Bistro Classics – fish and chips, burgers, steaks and sandwiches.
I braved the antiques market, where most of the stall holders seemed in danger of being swept away.
Each had their own story, from the purple haired glass seller whose glassware matched her hairdo through to the gnarled Glaswegian selling all sorts of bric a brac.
The market is quieter and for the most part, more ‘serious’ than some of the other London offerings like Portobello – slightly off the tourist track means that most of those who visit are looking for something to buy. So definitely worth a visit, particularly if you are looking for silverware.
Back in the hotel, I had a quick coffee before heading back home. The lounge and restaurant both have a ’boutique’ feel and I’d have been quite happy to relax here for the day if I hadn’t got work and a hungry cat to get back to.
For a visitor to London, whether from overseas or from out of town in the UK, Bermondsey Square Hotel at entry level offers a step up from the ‘Travelodge’ type of proposition at a reasonable price. The hotel is remarkably quiet for London and even the entry level rooms are spacious. I’d have welcomed the chance to see some of the other accommodation – there are club rooms and even a suite with a hot tub on the roof. But, for a business traveller or someone attending an event in London, the standard room offers excellent value and a peaceful and well-designed space. And, Bermondsey itself is an area of London that is just far enough off the beaten track to be worth exploring
Bermondsey Square Hotel offers rooms from £119 based on two people sharing a double room. Bookings can be made through the hotel website (www.bermondseysquarehotel.co.uk).
Bermondsey Square Hotel
Tower Bridge Rd,
London SE1 3UN
My stay at the Bermondsey Square Hotel was complimentary, for the purpose of review. All comments are editorially given.
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