Thursday, 7 March 2019

Exploring my past with Clayton Hotel, City of London.

To me, it's important that I look into my ancestor's lives because without them, I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be who I am. So much of who we are is down to our genes and the lives our ancestors lived, so I've been documenting my family history with my Dad since I was a child. You're probably wondering what on earth this has to do with a hotel review. Well, when I was invited to review the brand-new Clayton Hotel right in the heart of Whitechapel, my heart skipped a beat and I knew it was meant to be. See, my great-grandfather, his parents and siblings, all grew up on a street just a four-minute walk away from the hotel...

Clayton Hotel City of London Bedroom


I had never visited this part of London before - the closest I had been were childhood trips to the nearby Tower of London - and having just found out the exact church my ancestors were parishioners at during the 1890s, I was desperate to be the ultimate Catholic genealogy geek and go to mass at the church. I live over an hour away from the church, so I felt incredibly fortunate to have been contacted by the hotel around the same time as I found all this new information and it made me crazy excited to visit the area and explore more!

I booked into the hotel on a Saturday night, and was shocked to walk through the front-doors of the hotel and be welcomed by such an incredible lobby! It is BEAUTIFUL and I absolutely loved the cute nods to the city with quirky maps and knick-knacks dotted around and hung on the walls. The lobby felt very Shoreditch and East London, and it really reminded me of The Curtain which I reviewed last year.



I headed up to my executive room (number 415) and fell in love with the decor. It was all so fresh and on-trend, and I squealed at the epic railed-doors to the bathroom and wardrobe. ALSO, one of my favourite aspects was the standing dressing area on the opposite side of the wall to the bathroom. The huge rectangular mirror was a double mirror you could spin around depending on whether you wanted the light-up side or not, and there was a perfect-sized surface to put make-up and bits and bobs without any of it getting wet by the sink.


As well as the huge comfy bed there were plenty of plug points right beside the bed, a vintage-style telephone, and complimentary water and biscuits!



The bathroom was clean and modern, with a huge shower, a separate toilet, and a big sink with a flip-around double-sided mirror that could be turned around depending on whether you wanted the mirror-lights on the bathroom side or dressing table area side.



After investigating the room and testing everything out I decided to head out to explore the streets where my ancestors once walked. A lot of Whitechapel was destroyed during the Blitz in WW2, and so many of the buildings are modern or from the 50s/60s. Sadly the house where my great great grandfather died is now a block of council flats, but it still meant a lot to me to stand right outside the exact spot of their old house.

I then wandered down the road to the church they attended. Although we have all been raised Catholic, my Dad and I always suspected our German relatives in the 1800s may have originally been Jewish, as our German family always lived in typically German-Jewish areas of London when they moved over from Cologne. Anyway, our theory was totally debunked when we came across the 1890 Catholic Census, and my great grandfather, his parents and all of his siblings were listed as Parishioners at the Catholic Church of the English Martyrs in Tower Hill.



Walking into the church was the most surreal feeling, and experiencing mass there was pretty special. How crazy that 120+ years ago the people responsible for me being here today stood in the exact same spot, and stared up at the exact same altar? After mass I walked back to The Clayton and enjoyed a quiet evening of reading and research, and I finally started to write the book I've been meaning to write for years. Who knows if I will ever finish it or if it will ever be published, but I'd like to at least try.

The next morning I arose and headed down for breakfast in the restaurant. I know I keep saying this, but since working at Google no buffet breakfast is ever the same. Whereas before I would feel great excitement over a hotel breakfast, these days I find myself comparing them to the insane breakfast offering at work 5 days a week. That being said, the breakfast at The Clayton was more than decent (although a distinct lack of hash browns), and I loved the little smoothie pots and pastries!



I had personally never heard of the hotel brand before, but The Clayton is a gorgeous hotel in a great location for exploring the Tower of London, the City of London, and Shoreditch as it's right inbetween all of them. And hey, while you're there maybe do a Jack the Ripper tour too? The brand is definitely on my radar now and looking at their other hotels they all look really contemporary and stylish, and very reasonably priced too!

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