Can a Hipster Hotel be Cool and Cheap?
by Aly Hazlewood
In November 2013, a brand new concept hotel opened its doors in one of London’s most vibrant areas. Located close to the foodie haven that is Brick Lane and The City, Qbic Hotel London City offers a cool, affordable, urban experience for business travellers and hipsters needing a crash pad after a messy night in the capital’s East End.
Building on the success of Japanese pod hotels, this stylish 171-room property features innovative design, sustainable practices and community initiatives, working with organisations such Food Cycle and Bikeworks, both of which help to train and assist people back into work. Qbic will recruit approximately 20% of its staff from these charities.
The Qbic five essentials:
• Immaculate cleanliness
• A comfortable bed
• A great shower
• Free WiFi
• Local initiatives
Rates start from £69 per room per night, with free high-speed WiFi and breakfast. In addition to the small but perfectly formed Cubi’s and affordable rates, Qbic offers a unique guest experience tailored to the local area including impromptu cookery sessions, temporary art exhibitions, bike tours and local excursions with a twist, to ensure guests leave with a story.
This joint certainly has a sense of humour. My little Cubi offered a giant printed headboard of Princess Diana and Justin Bieber, along with a very quirky wooden step ladder-cum-clothes hanger, because rooms this size don’t come with wardrobes. That’s not to say that it felt poky, it didn’t: just compact and bijou. The Naturalmat beds made from all natural materials in Cornwall qualified for one of the most comfortable night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time, and the waterfall shower felt like a luxury for such an affordable stay.
It’s the little touches that make a difference here. I loved the power sockets and TV built into the bed’s cube frame, and all the mood lighting switches are at your fingertips. There’s nothing quite as annoying as having to plug one’s phone or laptop miles away from the bed, a design flaw all too common in many hotels. The Cubi’s are super-insulated from noise inside the hotel which would be very welcome on a Friday or Saturday night, but I have to admit that they weren’t so adept at keeping out the sounds from the refuse collection trucks outside in the morning..
Qbic’s sustainability ethos and belief in re-using and re-purposing meant that, in London, the Cubi design enabled an old office building to be converted into a hotel quickly, efficiently and with little impact on the environment.
The common areas of the hotel are hip and quirky with bespoke handmade furniture, neon signage and artworks, plus a wall of vending machines offering a huge variety of hot and cold food. Guests even have access to a microwave and oven, plus good quality free coffee machines around the hotel. The standard breakfast option is hung on your door during the night in a paper bag and contains a locally produced quality juice, breakfast bar and a piece of fruit, or for just £7.50, guests can upgrade to the continental breakfast in the hotel lounge. But beware, this is very bread-heavy. Not one for a gluten intolerant gal like me.
Also worth noting is the cashless policy of the hotel. Everything including the vending machines are card operated, which limits the need for large numbers of staff, although there is always someone available knowledgable and friendly in the lobby. I particularly liked the security measure that meant you couldn’t go to any other floor in the lift without your key card.
I was deeply impressed by the Qbic. It’s certainly the most superior budget hotel I’ve ever experienced, located in the heart of hipsterland, and with all the little extras, great design, free parking and wifi, and ridiculously affordable rates, it’s one that I will return to again and again. And if you sign up to their newsletter, you’ll be the first to hear about the new £1 charity promotion the hotel is running in Spring. I’m just looking forward to the day they open a Qbic in other major cities across Europe.