I am writing this review from the sofa in my suite at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf as the sun is rising over the twinkling lights of London. The vista from the river view rooms here at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf is an absolute delight. It spans across the Docklands almost to Greenwich to the East and then right over to include the Shard and beyond the Gherkin and the other funny shaped City skyscrapers to my West. Look down and right in front of you the massive Thames river slowly gluggs by. It is still early so it feels like only the birds and I are enjoying the view, well us and some crazy rowers making their morning vigil battling up and down this tidal river. As the city comes to life, the powerful and speedy clipper boat service starts, which whizzes you straight up to the City and the London Eye or down to Greenwich more or less from the door of the Four Seasons.
So to my “seagull flying height” room. I’m staying in the One Bedroom Riverview Suite. It is spacious with a comfy sitting room and dining room and then a large master with a desk area, comfy lounging seat and 2 bathrooms. Both rooms have a window that protrudes out from the building incorporating a large window seat, giving you a 180 degree views across London and a comfy seat to enjoy it on. The temptation is to leave the curtains open, even at night, and watch the traffic on the Thames quietly meander past.
I specifically book into Four Seasons hotels as you’re guaranteed the best level of service and the top level of luxury in the rooms. Sure enough, the rooms at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf are huge, and although the decor here is not as stylish as the Four Seasons London in Park Lane, the rooms are beautifully finished, with everything you need, including being super sound proofed and having an amazingly comfy bed. I particularly liked the Murdok Black Tea toiletries, (they don’t smell of tea), and the bathroom itself is spacious with a rainforest shower and separate bath although it only has a single sink so not mirroring a “classic” Four Seasons bathroom. My recommendation is that you must book a river view room for the view, but the Premier River View room would have done us just fine as the rooms are just so spacious.
The Bar area is located to the back of the entrance foyer and behind the pool. There is a comfy seating area in doors and a small patio area outdoors. There isn’t much a view as the pool building blocks the main river view at ground level, but it is a comfy if quiet place to enjoy a drink and watch other guests as they go about their business.
The pool itself is a great asset as so few hotels in London have one. It’s shared with the adjoining apartment complex and as such you have to leave the hotel and walk over to it. No great hardship but means changing at the swimming pool rather that in your room. Wandering between buildings in your dressing gown in the winter would look a little odd and be very chilly!
The restaurant is both busy and vibrant. The food is skewed to Italian with excellent fresh pasta dishes, I love their Ravioli and I chose a fish platter for the main that was tasty with sea bass, salmon, cod and prawn in generous portions. Delicious! The clientele are stylish and sophisticated, skewed towards Americans and Canadians, young couples and a few older families. We stayed on a weekend and I get the feeling the hotel would be mainly booked by city business people during the week.
The staff was as you would expect, super friendly and attentive, all remembering my own name and that of my little boy – a small thing that makes me feel special. In fact they even knew who I was from the moment I arrived and welcomed me by my name as they opened my car door. Impressive!
The location is riverfront about a 3 minute walk from the centre of the futuristic Canary Wharf – my old home. Silver mirrored skyscrapers are arranged around super clean tree-lined streets, modern squares and fountains. The skyscrapers themselves seem to rise straight out of the water in the docks. There are numerous bridges and pathways winding between and over the water and many waterfront cafes and bars that huddle at the base of these huge buildings. For our stay the weather was bitingly cold and everyone had gravitated into the warm and extensive underground indoor shopping centre beneath the skyscrapers. Even so, as it was a weekend, the weekday workers weren’t about so the shops, tunnels and glass roofed courtyards full of yet more eateries and shops weren’t madly busy. This is a great place to come during the sales because, unlike in central London, the shops are quieter and the deals seem to be better. Of course you don’t have my favourites, Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges, but just about every other high street store can be found in this underground maze set either side of the Canary Wharf Tube Station.
You really are spoilt for choice if you’re looking for a riverside experience. In the warmer weather, there is a riverside walk to the west that takes you through historic docks and right to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. For the winter, if you can bear the cold, there is a wonderful Ice skating area where you can skate into the night surrounded by trees full of fairy lights – beautiful.
A taxi ride to central London is £20-£30 and outside of the morning and evening rush hours is a pleasant drive. Public transport is also plentiful: the Canary Wharf tube, Docklands light railway and clipper boat service all mean you are only ever 20-30 minutes from central London.
If your on a business trip anywhere close to Canary Wharf the Four Seasons is a no brainer – this is easily the best hotel in the area. If you’re traveling to London for pleasure, the distance to the centre may put you off, but I’d still recommend as a base. This hotel offers the Four Seasons Experience at irresistible rates on the weekends, unmissable vistas and an almost Blade Runner futuristic picture of London’s newest heart. It’s just a short boat ride from the Tower of London, The London Eye and a tube ride from central London shopping. I’ll be returning.
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