Basic Meets Beautiful

At a glance:

Why I stayed the first time: Looked unique, good price and great location                        

Why I stayed the second time: Had a great experience the first time! This time I splurged a little to have a room to myself (my friends split a room).

Location: South Bank near the Globe Theater. About midway between the Tower Bridge and Big Ben

Favorite part: Beautiful/funky decor, friendly staff, delicious drinks

Tip: Sign up to become a "Citizen." Get's you 15% off every time you stay and they don't send you a bunch of spam!

Originally posted on

A bed and indoor plumbing. That's all I need in a hotel. But is it possible to get something so simple without sacrificing comfort and beauty?

Let's be honest, when traveling through a foreign country you don't, and shouldn't, spend a ton of time in the hotel. So why pay for all those extra amenities that you won't ever see - can you say "fitness center?" Give me a place to have a wash and sleep it off. The rest of my day is spent exploring my new locale and immersing myself in the culture.

However, when thinking of basic lodging the word hostel can be a little frightening (and not just because of the 2005 cliché of a horror film). The tight quarters and shared bathrooms may work on some occasions but there seems to be a certain atmosphere that isn't everyone's cup of tea. Some people prefer a little more sophistication in design and a lot more privacy.

That's where CitizenM comes to the rescue. I first stumbled upon this unique chain while planning a spur of the moment trip to London. A friend of mine was going to be traveling in the area for work and I was going to meet her for a "yes adventure." We wanted something inexpensive but in a great location and this hotel seemed to fit the bill.

It didn't take much convincing for me to book the room. The website photos, which include Instagram shots from actual patrons, were design gold. Fun, modern community spaces with welcoming café and bar areas. And best of all bright, clean rooms. And there was no need to shop around. The rates were incredibly affordable and even cheaper when you sign up to be a "citizen."

We meandered our way through the streets of London and finally arrived at the CitizenM Bankside. After checking ourselves in at kiosks outfitted with key card makers we stopped at the bar for our complimentary welcome drinks. Every inch of the lobby was thought out and designed for any type of traveler. In town on business? Conference spaces and computer booths are at your disposal. Looking for a little relaxation? Peruse the bookcases – yes, actual paper books – and lounge on the couches in the living room section. Want to mingle with other weary travelers? Hang out around the center bar. All of this is planned in the same lobby giving a sense of both private and public space.

So how about those rooms? Just a little disclaimer: do not share this room with an acquaintance. Do not share this room with a colleague. Only share this room with a close friend or relative. First, you WILL be sharing a bed. All rooms accommodate two people in a king bed. And what a bed! The bed is so big (and the room so small) that it is a wall to wall mattress. It is the biggest piece of furniture in the room and possibly the entire building. However, this is not the crowning glory of the room.

The bathroom is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. As I stated before, indoor plumbing is my second requirement for bookings so being unique is just an extra little perk. This peculiar bathroom is also the second reason I would suggest you be rather close with your roommate. The entire bathroom is back lit frosted glass. You can’t see details or definition but you can definitely see figures. It’s not hard at all to tell if your roommate is taking a shower or sitting on the toilet. Just remember though, it’s only weird if you stare.

The whole room is very sleek and clean. Everything is streamlined and controlled through a tablet in the room. With that tablet you can turn on the lights, pick a movie to watch on the television and even change the color of the backlighting in your bathroom. If you want to throw a rave for your roomie while they shower simply put your finger on the color wheel and start spinning.

If high tech rooms and do it yourself check-ins aren’t your thing, fear not! There is always someone on staff to help you out. And though the quarters are tight you will have everything you need and nothing you don’t. This hotel wants to give you that sense of community you’d find in a hostel with a little more style. I typically don’t like to stay in the same place twice but I definitely wouldn’t be against trying out one of their other locations in the future.