I am quite keen on the Doubletree Docklands, at least I was when it was a Hilton. A refurbished hotel has emerged in recent months and I chose it for a one night stay connecting to the British Airways JFK service from London City Airport.
The first thing to say is that the traffic close to the hotel is a nightmare, the last mile took almost as long as the previous 10 miles from Heathrow. If you are in a black cab this is going to be an expensive journey.
Pulling up to the hotel it was clear that the outside had not been changed, but as soon as I entered the lobby the transformation was obvious.
The Reception desks had been moved and the lobby totally refurbished. There was a short queue at check-in and the agent confirmed that I had been upgraded to a suite. I had originally booked a nice room, with views of the river and a balcony in the old building. This is one of their better rooms, and whilst I have had suite upgrades here before the refresh, I was curious to see what they had done with their suites. I received one of the signature warm chocolate cookies from the agent.
It started badly when the agent explained that the room was round behind Reception – so no river view then!
The property is laid out really oddly – there is one old building, and two new buildings. These are reached by glass walkways which stretch over what used to be boat slips.
The views of Canary Wharf are spectacular, and you can see how close the River Thames runs at the front of the property. In fact the older building – which is at the end of the corridor above, used to be a wharf and has been converted to use by the hotel.
On the right above you will see the pier which I will come back to later.
After I had zig-zagged around the back of Reception, I located my suite. It has probably got to be called the smallest suite in the world. There was a sitting room, bedroom and tiny bathroom. I hope the pictures convey the size properly. The picture below is of the corridor. On the right is the entrance door, straight ahead is the bathroom and on the right is the bedroom.
The Living Room, behind me in the image above had a table with four chairs, a sofa and a TV. The floor standing light next to the TV did not work and there were no sockets to plug it in to, so quite why it was there I never knew.
The air conditioning did not work. The view from the windows in the living room was of the drop off area for Reception and one of the flooded boat slips (above). The second new building is opposite.
The bedroom was small, but had a desk. There was just room to get between the bed and the wall. The TV was behind the window closing and it was tricky to watch as it was at 90 degrees to the bed.
With no air con it would have been nice to have left the windows open a little but as the room was on the ground floor there was a security issue and you could not open the windows and close the wooden shutters at the same time. The bed was comfortable enough but a little soft for my liking.
The room can be seen from outside in this image. The windows under the ‘Hotel Reception’ sign are those of the sitting room and the window under the overhang is in the bedroom.
The bathroom, well it felt like something for a child. The bath was probably 2/3rd of the size I am used go having and the basin was tiny.
I slept fairly well and was up for breakfast before it opened. This allowed me to have a look at the other side of the hotel, where the wharf has been converted to rooms and where I had booked to stay.
There is an outside bar area with views over the river.
It seems that the hotel is trying to make this area a haven of modern art, with pictures on the wall and a sculpture garden:
The signage suggests that there may be an Executive Club in the future, although it is not clear when or where it will be:
Breakfast was a treat. Posters on Flyertalk have complained that the selection is poor, but I found it more than adequate. They let me pick where I wanted to sit and then I helped myself from the buffet which runs over a couple of rooms – hot items and the chef in one room and cold items in another.
As I was so early the breakfast room was not too busy but it was starting to fill, with Chinese tourists, as I was leaving.
Check-out was simple, but the idea of changing the airline partner where I wanted to earn miles was beyond the staff. In addition no one asked about my stay so I didn’t get a chance to express my frustrations with being given a much worse room.
My next trick was to get over to Canary Wharf so that I could catch the bus and Docklands Light Railway to London City Airport.
The hotel runs a ferry every ten minutes which crosses the Thames and is free to guests – just show your ticket wallet. Tickets are checked on the Canary Wharf side. The hotel used to give tickets, but the wallet is apparently enough now. If you check out they collect on your last trip.
It is quite fun to watch the crew work the ferry for the short journey. We had to wait whilst some of the larger boats cleared the pier on the other side. The journey takes about 4 minutes and the seats are quite comfy.
So, in summary, I was disappointed by the room I received but the property is quite smart and the staff were friendly enough. Would I stay again? Possibly, I would want to make sure that my upgrade didn’t give me a worse room than the one I booked. Looking back at the property from Canary Wharf: