Finding a hotel in the capital that strikes the right balance between comfort, location and price isn’t always easy. So when I heard about Assembly London’s ‘get up and go’ no-frills mantra, I was intrigued.
I’m told that Assembly promises to ‘connect guests to the heart of the city’ and, based on its location, I believe it. Recently opened on Charing Cross Road, it’s a gateway to some of my favourite pockets of London including Soho, Covent Garden and Carnaby Street, yet the entrance itself is unassuming. I would have almost walked past it if it wasn’t for a pink neon sign that has the feel of a cocktail bar (or possibly a hipster gym).
The signage is just one aspect of a carefully considered interior that takes inspiration from its neighbourhood and the nearby Central Saint Martins. Each room is inspired by some of the institution’s most famous British icons including Gareth Pugh, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, and there is an option to suit everyone – the snug for individuals; nest, featuring double beds; pad; den – and each features a giant toy rabbit. The rooftop bar was still being finished when I visited but promises to offer great views over the city once completed.
Assembly likes to pull out all the unnecessary amenities. There are no overpriced mini-bars, bed-side telephones or even a TV. While I found the lack of extras refreshing, I wasn’t sure if this was a bit too literal. A water glass would have been nice, and I realised I would have to physically go down to reception if I needed anything.
That said, it really depends what you want out of a hotel room. If excellent soundproofing, super comfortable beds, a walk-in power shower and strong WiFi are more important than pillow chocolates, then Assembly is the place for you. Perfect for busy commuters or anyone wanting to crash after a day of sightseeing, it provides a little oasis that takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the city – while still in walking distance of the West End.
For first-time visitors, it’s easy to find yourself stumbling into Leicester Square which can often be overpriced and underwhelming. But venture a bit further and Pix’s Soho chain is a great starting point for aperitifs, featuring pick-your-own tapas, cava and friendly staff (our server gave us the rest of a bottle to polish off). For mains, wander down to Carnaby Street’s Pastaio for authentic Italian fast food. A warming bowl of homemade pasta and rich tomato sauce was a very reasonable £6.50, and heated seating outside means you can take in the city and people watch.
In summary, Assembly was slick and sassy without any of the faff. Beds you can melt into, a prime location and a commitment to the essentials gets the thumbs up from me.
By Lizzie Wood, Travel Editor