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Review: Aptel East, Tower Hamlets, London, UK

The old adage to “never judge a book by its cover” couldn’t be more true when it comes to Aptel East, an aparthotel in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets.  Flanked on either side by shuttered shops covered with graffiti, you could be forgiven for not realising that here lies one of the area’s most luxurious places to stay, for within this building there are around 30 stylish and fully-serviced apartments that go by the name of Aptel East.

Take no notice of the immediate vicinity – reviews of Tripadvisor say things like “I wondered what on earth my wife had booked. Inside though was the complete opposite.” and I would imagine this is a common sentiment as guests’ initial alarm quickly turns into unexpected delight once inside.

The welcome

Check-in on arrival was really slick. I received an email from Aptel East the day before I was due to arrive, inviting me to a faster online check-in. Through a single click, I confirmed my details and checked in with the aid of a digital registration solution called GuestStay, a seamless contact-free experience provided by Guestline®️.

This meant that, when I arrived, I didn’t need to use any of the registration terminals in the foyer. Despite reaching the hotel quite late in the evening, I simply rang the bell (there is a 24-hour concierge), gave my name and was given my key. The whole process took less than 10 seconds before I was taking the lift up to my apartment.

The room

I stayed in room 33 on the fifth and uppermost floor of this sustainable building with its green roof and high-tech energy efficient systems throughout.

This stylish and fully-serviced modern apartment sleeps two people with a luxury king size bed (with hypoallergenic bedding that has been made exclusively for Aptel East) in a spacious room with a black-out blind, in addition to the curtain that you see. The view from the apartment looks out over Tower Hamlets, with The Shard visible in the distance to the right.

The air-conditioned room is spacious, with a laminate wood-effect flooring, wall-mounted 43-inch TV, safe, seating area and kitchenette in the corner.

The bathroom

The brightly-lit, clean-cut and modern bathroom with its monsoon shower, basin and WC, has light-coloured wall tiles that contrast with the dark floor tiles and vanity units.

Gowns and fluffy towels and flannels are provided, as well as travel-sized toiletries and soap from DAMANA®, specialists in exclusive amenities for the hotel trade.

The facilities

The kitchenette is equipped with a kettle, toaster and microwave, as well as a miniature sink.

There’s also crockery, cutlery, glasses and a small fridge – essentially everything you would need to have some cereal or toast in the morning, rustle up a sandwich during the day, or even fix yourself a microwave meal in the evening.

For serious foodies looking for something more, there are multiple Michelin-starred restaurants just a short cab ride away, with Behind Restaurant (one star), City Social (one star), Lyle’s (one star), Sollip (one star), St. John Restaurant (one star) and The Clove Club (two stars) all within a 10-15 minute drive.

The accommodation also comes with a private super-fast 5G internet.

Being an apartment within a hotel, you really have everything you need for a comfortable home away from home for a short stay in the city. Should you need anything, though, the 24-hour concierge is on hand and can be contacted via your mobile phone, plus a housekeeping service is available for longer stays.


The accommodation is located close to the Royal London Hospital, within walking distance of some of London’s most iconic destinations including Spitalfields, Shoreditch, Tower Bridge, St Katherine Docks and Hackney which are all easily accessible via public transport and within walking distance. Shadwell (on the DLR and London overground) and Whitechapel (on the District, Elizabeth, and Hammersmith and City lines, as well as the London overground) and are each just a short walk away, as are Liverpool Street, Aldgate East and Tower Hill tube stations.

During my stay, I attended the World Travel Market at ExCel London, which was so easy to access with Custom House just a hadnful stops away along the new Elizabeth line.


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Other nice touches

A welcome note and some drinks and crisps, as well as a fridge stocked with bottled water, were among some nice little extras. Non-intrusive communication via WhatsApp was also great and very convenient, and came with an assurance on arrival that the team is available 24 hours a day and more than happy to assist with anything, along with the WiFi password. They also used this to notify me when an Amazon parcel I’d ordered had arrived, and to ask me whether my room needed to be refreshed when I forgot to put out my door hanger to notify them.


Standard suites at Aptel East start from just £109 per night.

The best bit

For the price, I can’t think of better value quality accommodation anywhere in London. You can find yourself paying less than you would for a Premier Inn room, yet getting so much more in terms of quality, space and in-room facilities.

The final verdict

For me, Aptel East’s accommodation was a great base for a work trip, with excellent access to my conference venue, but it would serve equally well for leisure breaks. It is also very convenient for anyone from outside the city who should happen to be visiting patients at The Royal London Hospital.

Finally, it is exceptionally well-priced for quality accommodation in London which is notoriously much more expensive and, on the few occasions that I had any need to speak to the concierge team, they were always charming and couldn’t be more happy to help.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Aptel East.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. This slick check-in is becoming quite a thing. The last thing you want after a long journey is to be kept waiting at reception whilst the people ahead of you are filling in forms.

    1. Hi Dave – yes, especially when travelling on business, I do just want to get to my room, open up my laptop and get on with some work. A smooth arrival process allows me to do that.

  2. Recently, I’ve been very disappointed with the wi-fi in some of the hotels where I’ve stayed. A few times I’ve been unable to download a spreadsheet that I’d been sent. Hopefully, other hotels will follow with private and super-fast 5G. If they’re going to target the business travel market segment then that’s what they will have to do.

    1. No problems with the WiFi at this place. What I really liked was that shortly after entering the room, I received a WhatsApp message saying ‘welcome’ and telling me what the WiFi password was. There was no trying to find the details in a folder of information or having to call back down to reception for the details. Nice and simple. 😊

  3. Probably one of the least glamorous locations that you’ve ever reviewed!

    On the plus side it looks comfortable, spacious snd very good value.

    Great functional accommodation if you have to be in that part of London.

    1. Yes, that is true but I must say it felt very safe. I often came back to the accommodation quite late at night, walking from Whitechapel tube station, and at no point did I feel at all unsafe.

      I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to use Aptel East as a base again since, as you say, the accommodation is very comfortable and great value. And I certainly can’t think of any better places to stay in that part of London.

  4. Non-intrusive communication via Whats App is a clever idea. I know the “Is everything alright with your room?” call is well-intentioned but I think I’d prefer Whats App messages.

  5. Times are hard and accounts are cracking down on expenses. This seems to be a real gem for visits to East London. Thanks for the tip.

  6. You can’t beat a suite when you are travelling on business. If you’ve got work to do it’s good to have space to spread out.

  7. I’ve probably got around half a dozen clients within 20 minutes of Tower Hamlets.

    As it’s my own business and I’m chief finance officer always keen to keep costs down and profits up, Aptel is a good find for me.

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