The London Docklands is an unofficial name given to the 8 1/2-square-mile redevelopment area of the once-derelict East London port area. Since the mid-1980s, a virtually new city has grown up in the Docklands. Most visitors arrive there for business reasons and choose hotels -- most built since 2000 -- designed to cater to business needs. A kind of corporate standardization makes distinguishing one Docklands hotel from another rather difficult. Instead visitors should opt for the best available choice in the part of the Docklands that is their destination.
Canary Wharf is one of the few areas of London with a gathering of skyscrapers, including the UK's tallest building, One Canada Square. The development, on the West India Docks area of the Isle of Dogs, is the location of the world and European headquarters of multi-national financial services, insurance and media companies. Hotels here tend to aim for executive travelers. The Four Seasons Canary Wharf, a five-star luxury hotel, has the best views of any in the area. The only Canary Wharf hotel right on the water, the hotel's panoramic views take in a wide bend in the Thames between Limehouse and Rotherhithe. Its proximity to the Canary Wharf Pier and commuter boats to Greenwich and Central London give this hotel more leisure travel potential than others in the Docklands.
ExCeL, London's major East London conference and exhibition center, is so large that it is served by three different DLR stations. There are five hotels on the ExCeL estate, two near Custom House DLR station, two close to Prince Regent DLR and one near Royal Victoria DLR. For business people attending events at ExCeL, the first choice is usually one of the pair of Accor hotels near to the exhibition center's main entrance and Custom House DLR. The Novotel, one of French-owned Accor's luxury brands, and the Ibis -- the group's budget brand -- occupy a pair of buildings linked at the ground and terrace levels. Both have secure parking and easy access to the center. The Novotel has meeting and function rooms.
London City Airport
London City Airport is across the pool of Royal Victoria Dock from ExCeL in a part of London known as Silvertown. A footbridge connecting the airport area with the ExCeL estate provides access to more upmarket hotels. But the best value and convenience are offered by Accor group's self-described "cheap" hotels, the Etap London City Airport. Etap hotels are basic. They have one type of room, a standard room that sleeps three with a bunk-bed arrangement over a queen-size bed. A breakfast of breads, juices and cereals is included in the price. The Docklands hotel has 81 rooms and is about 500 yards from the airport.
Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks
The westernmost of the London Docklands areas, Rotherhithe occupies land encircled on three sides by a bend in the Thames. Once the second largest dock complex in London, it is now a largely residential area popular with workers in the City of London and Canary Wharf. Hilton has taken advantage of this proximity and has built the only hotel in the Surrey Docks. The Hilton London Docklands Riverside, across the Thames from Canary Wharf, is moderately priced with good business facilities. Rooms are spacious by London standards and have separate work areas. The hotel has a dedicated ferry that makes the three-minute crossing from its dock to Canary Wharf every 10 minutes throughout the day.
- Light railway through London Docklands image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com