Just like a life companion or the perfect pair of jeans, a good London hotel can be quite hard to find. I’ve stayed in a lot of different hotels over the 11+ years I’ve been visiting London regularly, and am always looking for one I can become loyal to – loyalty in travel always has its rewards!
For that reason, I was excited to try the Yotel brand during my trip to London in August 2023. For me, it was incredibly conveniently located – both for my airport train (5-minute walk) and the pub where my classmates and I held our reunion (15-minute walk) – and it was a chance to stay with a brand that has locations around the world. If I liked Yotel, I looked forward to sharing that with you – and staying again in the future.
Now having spent almost a week at the Yotel London City, I’m delighted to share that it lived up to my expectations in almost every way. As you’ll see in this Yotel London City review, I’ve found a great hotel for me and my family, and think you will too. Let me tell you why…
Pros at Yotel London City
I always like to start with (and focus on) the positives of any hotel I visit in London – unless I just can’t find any. Luckily, there are lots of reasons to love the Yotel London City, across the major factors most travelers care about: location, price, experience, and sustainability.
Hands down the best part of the Yotel London City is its location: it doesn’t get much more convenient than this at the price, variety, and quality of rooms you’ll find here. The hotel is <5 minutes from Farringdon station, which is accessed by both the Tube (Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines) and National Rail services (including direct trains to Gatwick).
It’s across the street from a delightful restaurant (Brewdog Clerkenwell) and accessed by buses from Central London (the #55 and #243 being the best options as a good transit app will tell you). It’s also a walkable, safe area: Clerkenwell is mostly residential, cutting down on the chaos and potential criminal activity you might experience elsewhere.
Location was the #1 reason I picked the Yotel London City (other than to stay at a Yotel so I could write a review for you!) and is the #1 reason I recommend booking your stay here too. There are other reasons. as well though, so let me really convince you…
Variety of Room Options & Prices
There are seven types of rooms available at the Yotel London City:
- Queen, Premium Queen, Premium Plus, and First Class, which are all varying sizes of a two-person room.
- Premium Triple, which adds space for a third person or child in a bunk above the main bed.
- VIP Suites, which are designed for up to a family of four with even more space.
- Solo and Bunk rooms, which are ideal for 1 or 2 travelers who don’t want to share a bed or spend money on extra space.
Basically, there’s a room for every type of group from a solo traveler to a family of four. These also vary reasonably in price given that smaller rooms and those aimed at fewer guests cost less; this is really nice as I’ve been a solo traveler charged for a double queen room too many times at other hotels!
Let’s be real: hotels are expensive in London. It’s the second-most expensive part of your London trip after airfare! There’s no getting around it, unless you’re a real deal hound, willing to stay in Zone 2 (outside Central London), or like hostels (I’m way too old for that!).
Brands like Yotel and Premier Inn (which I stayed at last year) are a good alternative to risking it at one of the “three-star” (always two-star) hotels you might find on other booking platforms. They balance price, location, and room size to offer a really fair option.
Cash Back for Direct Bookings
I normally book hotels through aggregators like Booking.com and Hotels.com for loyalty points, but I decided to book my stay at Yotel London City directly for two reasons: one, they have a loyalty program and I was hopeful I’d love my stay enough to become a return guest (yes!) and two, they offer ~5% cash back after you stay with them. (They also claim to offer the best rates and discounts only through their website, though I haven’t checked this claim.)
Who doesn’t love getting money back after a trip but before you look at the damage on your credit card statement?!
Good In-Room Amenities
On the whole, the in-room experience at Yotel London City is great (there are a few things I didn’t love which I’ll cover shortly). Rather than going through each one in exhaustive detail, here are some of the in-room amenities that I loved, briefly:
- Lots of lighting & control – While my room didn’t have any windows (more on that below!), there were lots of lighting options: ambient lighting with color control, desk and bedside lamps, and overhead lighting. Additionally, the lights are motion sensitive so if you forget to turn them off, they’ll turn off to reduce energy consumption.
- Sustainably packaged soaps & lotions – All of the room soaps (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, and body lotion) are located in mounted, refillable bottles. This is a great way to reduce plastic waste and I am here for it! (They’re also really nice quality!)
- Big fluffy towels – and plenty of them – Too often, hotels skimp on small and/or thin towels. Not at Yotel! Their towels are big and fluffy and great after stepping out of a refreshing shower.
- Lots of hangers & closet space – In addition to a small closet space right near the entrance, my First Class room had a large standing wardrobe with about 10 hangers. This was awesome – too often, hotels just give you, like, two hangers and you end up with things hanging in your way because there’s no closet.
- Rewards for skipping housekeeping – I don’t mind the trend of bypassing daily room cleanings, and I love that Yotel rewards you for it. (You’ll earn £5 at the downstairs bar/restaurant for a two-night stay or £10 for a three-night or longer stay.)
Cool Common Space
In addition to the goodies in your room, the Yotel London City has nice common areas: there’s Mission Control where you check in, a Grab + Go bar where you can get morning coffee and other snacks all day long, and Komyuniti, a bar and restaurant that’s also where you can have (paid) breakfast in the morning.
These areas are really nice, and I would have loved to spend more time in them – but as you can probably guess, when I’m in London, I’m almost always out and exploring.
Cons at Yotel London City
Okay, now that I’ve covered the good stuff – which definitely outweighs the bad stuff – I want to cover what I didn’t love. As you’ll see, my Yotel London City review attempts to be fair by showing both sides, and how to manage these aspects that need improvement.
Rooms Without Windows
Hands down, the thing that bugged me the most about my stay at Yotel London City was that my room didn’t have windows. I don’t know exactly how many rooms don’t have windows, but the fact that there are any rooms without access to natural light kind of bugs me – especially when those rooms cost the same as rooms of a similar tier that have windows, or have great views of the City.
(I went into Google Earth and tried to figure this out and as far as I can tell, only the first floor on my side of the hallway doesn’t have windows. This actually really annoys me! Rooms without windows shouldn’t cost the same as rooms that do have them!)
All this to say, when you check in, you should ask if your room has windows, and ask to be moved to one if there’s availability. I won’t be staying in another room without windows at this property!
Limited Bathroom Privacy
Within our First Class room – reminder: the highest tier – I was genuinely surprised that the entire toilet enclosure is frosted glass. And, the overhead light just sort of lights you up when you step inside… even if I couldn’t see the details, there was no doubt about what’s going on in there!
There’s no easy fix here; it’s just the way the rooms are built and kind of weird. But it’s worth noting that if you’re traveling with someone you aren’t comfortable with knowing all your bathroom biz, you might be discomfited by this.
Slippery Shower Floor
I’ll be honest: I might never have noticed this issue if not for being pregnant during my most recent trip (and thus acutely aware of falling), but dang! The showers at the Yotel London City are, on the whole, lovely and the rainfall showerhead was a delight… but the shower floor was incredibly slippery and there is no grab bar in the shower in case you do lose your balance.
Ideally, the fix here is texturing the shower pan, but I know this makes cleaning more complex and adds maintenance costs overall. As a cost-effective and hygiene-friendly solution, Yotel London City could offer free shower mats or something to help with this.
Additional Costs & Add-Ons
While I know the hospitality industry as a whole has moved toward piecemeal pricing – that is, pay the base rate, then pay for the extras you want –, I still get annoyed when I’m staying somewhere and I end up feeling nickel-and-dimed by the end of the stay.
The Yotel brand isn’t terrible about this, but I thought there were a few opportunities where my stay could have been improved especially as I paid for the highest tier/highest price room they offer.
Specifically, I think Lumie lights should be included automatically for all guests in windowless rooms. As a guest, you should be able to opt-out and not pay the deposit for/have the light – but as there is no natural light in the room, I think there should be enough lights for every windowless room at this property, should every room want them. (Yotel says on their website that there are limited units available.)
Also, daily breakfast should be included for First Class room guests. By taking advantage of no-houskeeping credits and a 20% discount card in my room, I was able to get breakfast down to £7pp one day (and I generally prefer not to eat breakfast at the hotel, as Anthony Bourdain advised) – but it was just kind of annoying to think I had to even worry about paying when I already had paid a substantially higher nightly rate. (Heck, Yotel, just bake this into the First Class price!)
Lastly, having basic coffee and tea available for free is essential. I get that hotels are going to make me walk down to the lobby (in my jammies!) for coffee in the morning, but then charging £2-3 for a cuppa is just annoying when basic brew coffee costs like 0.10p a cup, max, and is available in the breakfast area.
My Overall Yotel London City Review
While I certainly think there are some areas for improvement at Yotel London City, I was on the whole very happy with my stay – hopefully you can tell that from this Yotel London City review!
(Honestly, having a room with windows would have made a world of difference and other issues might not have nagged me as much!)
I’d love to stay at the Yotel London City again and I would continue to pay for higher-tier rooms for the extra space – however, I will not accept a room without a window in the future. As we’ll be visiting London next time with a small human companion, the extra room and better daylight for our family will be essential!
Have any other questions about the Yotel London City or my review? Let me know in the comments below!