Gantry terrace

Stay Here: The Gantry, East Village, London E20

This superior design hotel on the edge of the Olympic Park makes a fun staycation

Where exactly is it? The Gantry, its exterior marked by striking slim vertical fins that catch the sun, overlooks the leafy bowl of Victory Park in East Village. With a nod to the Flat Iron building in NYC, it’s right on the edge of the glorious swathes of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an urban oasis of rivers, wetlands, hillocks and views. And yes, both the monolithic Westfield and hip Hackney Wick are only minutes away on foot.

Gantry: art and vintage furniture in the reception. Photo: Jonathan Sharp

The interior and vibes. It might be a 291-room strong hotel in a purpose-built tower – the fourth London property within the Hilton’s Curio Collection, in fact – but the vibe is design-led and deceptively intimate. Think mid-century modern furniture (much of which is reclaimed), mustard and burgundy armchairs and banquettes, scattered cushions, outsize house plants. It’s the kind of place where hardback design and interiors books are casually strewn on the sideboard. Artworks are everywhere, curated by respected East London institution Jealous Gallery.

Gantry: modern and spacious rooms. Photo: Jonathan Sharp

What was good about the rooms? In a word: everything. They’re a nice size, with elegant teal panelling, dark parquet floor, vintage chests and even a day divan. Pleasing detail abounds, from quality Marshall speakers to the Nespresso coffee machine and expensive crystal glassware, as well as walk-in two-person shower and classy Grown Alchemist toiletries. As for the bed? Pristine white-sheet heaven.

And how about the view?  Our 12th floor room had a gritty but captivating vantage point over Stratford’s spaghetti junction of railway tracks, roads and bridges, the outline of the City beyond. It was addictive watching the ant-like pedestrians a dozen floors down scurrying around Victory Park. Lit up at night, it proved even more mesmerizing.

Union Social
Gantry: Union Social bar and dining room. Photo: Jonathan Sharp/PR

OK, let’s talk food and drink. There’s a lot to explore. Downstairs, by the entrance, is a branch of East London coffee roasters Hermanos, whose sunlight-drenched café is full of laptop-wielding freelancers, while their pastel de nata are an essential matinal sweet treat.

Upstairs is the spacious restaurant Union Social, with its adjoining wine bar Coupe, headed up by Sicilian chef Salvatore Coco. If the weather is fine, the plant-filled terrace (main pic, above and below) with its comfy Ibizan-style furniture is the perfect spot for an aperitif from a bespoke drinks menu created by award-winning mixologist Walter Pintus: our Amber Negroni, made with Inverroche gin, was expertly balanced.

Gantry menu
Healthy fare; much of it plant-based. Photo: Jonathan Sharp

And how was dinner? Pretty much on point all the way through: the only difficulty was that menu descriptions were at times a little verbose. Starters proved petite but packed with flavour: Portuguese-style salt cod fritters were deeply savoury, dunked into a rich aioli, while a trio of fat juicy sriracha shrimps came perched on whorls of earthy roasted celeriac puree, little hillocks of pineapple salsa adding a refreshing tang.

Best dish? While a meaty disc of pressed slow-roast lamb shoulder, with buttery pearl barley, sun-dried tomatoes, pan-fried dandelion roots and spring onion was gone in seconds, it couldn’t quite compete with our meal highlight: an umami-rich sky-black cuttlefish and calamari risotto that was unctuous, at once velvety and al dente. A lick-the-plate-clean moment.

I’ve got a sweet tooth. Then don’t miss the Kentish raspberry mille-feuille, a delicate paragon of crème patissier, or the burnt honey and macadamia nut semifreddo with sticky toasted pistachio and salted biscuits (both pictured below). As in many places now, each item is marked with its calories – often off-putting – but here the dishes, including the desserts, were surprisingly restrained calorie-wise for food with such deep flavour. Good work, chef.

Mille-feuille and semifreddo. Photo: SE

What’s the service like? Friendly-yet-formal, and quietly knowledgeable, with plenty of smiles: exactly what’s required. Good to see house red well-priced (for a hotel) at under £30, too.

Breakfast? This is served in the dining room, its primary colours resplendent in the morning, although neither the coffee nor the menu quite matched the experience of dinner. Both the Full English and its vegan equivalent were filling enough, the poached eggs soft and orange-yolked, but these plates felt more akin to typical catering in a large hotel. Still, it set us up for the day, although we did pop downstairs to the Hermanos coffee shop for a strong caffeine kick afterwards.

The terrace in the morning. Photo: SE

Any other facilities? There’s a gym, and plenty of co-working space to combine your trip with any residual office duties. And it’s right by Stratford International – just a 6-minute hop to King’s Cross Zone 1.

Don’t miss: exploring leafy East Village itself, whether for a coffee at artisan café Hand, vegan salad at Ginger & Mint, or craft beers at either East London institution Mother Kelly or LGBTQ-friendly park-side bar Tina We Salute You. You must, of course, take a walk over the Olympic Park west to explore Hackney Wick. Oh, and shopaholics might be interested in the small matter of one of Europe’s largest retail centres…

The Gantry, 40 Celebration Avenue, Stratford, London, E20 1DB, rooms start at £199 including breakfast, more at

Weekendr stayed as guests of The Gantry Hotel. 

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