The Stratford hotel review, London: Jaw-dropping reviews and a decent price

CHECK-IN

The Stratford fills the first seven floors of the 42-storey Manhattan Loft Gardens - one of east London's striking new skyscrapers, and the latest project of developer Harry Handelsman, whose previous hits include the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chiltern Firehouse in central London. The Stratford has 145 rooms and suites, while the building's double-cantilevered upper section houses 248 apartments for long and short-term lets, plus communal "sky gardens" with amazing panoramas of the English capital.

The hotel looms beside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk), which has changed big-time since Usain Bolt and co thrilled the crowds at the 2012 Games. New flats, bars, eateries, gardens and art installations have sprung up around this waterway-spliced expanse. English Premier League club West Ham United has moved into the old Olympic Stadium, and it's also home to a high-tech purpose-built venue staging virtual ABBA concerts, with avatars of the Nordic Fab Four appearing beside a live band. Next door to the hotel is Stratford International, where high-speed rail whizzes you to St Pancras (and King's Cross) in under 10 minutes. Tube services to the likes of Oxford Circus and London Bridge leave from another station, at the other side of a huge Westfield mall, by Stratford's gradually-gentrifying town centre.

THE LOOK

The hotel has a glossy, somewhat Scandi-chic feel, courtesy of Space Copenhagen, the Danish interior design studio behind the original Noma restaurant. In the triple-height lobby, guests and residents chat, linger and use the fast, free hotel-wide Wi-Fi by a log-enclosed fire. It's all very hygge (that magical Danish phrase for creating a warm, convivial atmosphere). Contemporary art from Harry Handelsman's private collection attracts your gaze here and upstairs in the plush mezzanine bar, a "creative and musical hub", where you can imbibe inventive New York-inspired cocktails and have a go at spinning vinyls on Thursdays, listen to live music on Fridays and late-night DJs every Saturday.

THE ROOM

Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and come in sober tones, with pops of colour, and soothing natural timbers and stone. The seven categories start with the Standard, which feels larger than its 23 square metres and has a super-snug queen or king-size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets. There's a desk, flat-screen TV, Dualit coffee machine and organic REN toiletries. The Manhattan Studio is the splash-out choice, with enough space (65sq m) to host private parties. Seating includes raspberry-hued armchairs and sofas, and a circular dining table. The dazzling-white bathroom has a free-standing tub and walk-in shower.

FOOD + DRINK

Helmed by chef Patrick Powell (formerly of Chiltern Firehouse and Melbourne's Cutler & Co), Allegra is a 7th floor fine-dining restaurant with a "modern European" farm-to-table ethos. Ingredients are sourced from the British Isles, including Powell's native County Mayo. E20 Kitchen is the hotel's all-day, lobby-side eatery with a heated terrace and seasonal menus with Asian-Australasian influences. I enjoy a good full English breakfast here and dinner, too (sea bass ceviche, wagyu burger and Madagascan vanilla cheesecake). Expect to pay around £40-£60 ($70-$100) for three courses.

OUT AND ABOUT

The Olympic Park's waterside running and cycling trails are a fresh-air alternative to the hotel's basement gym - and its pilates and yoga classes. You can also book canal and river canoeing and kayaking trips (secretadventures.org), and slide or abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK's tallest sculpture. If you like street art, microbreweries and bakeries, the hip ex-industrial district of Hackney Wick is worth the 20-minute walk from the hotel.

THE VERDICT

The slick Stratford offers good value in an increasingly happening part of London, while excellent transport connections mean the city's famed sights are closer than you think.

ESSENTIALS

Rooms start from around £120 ($212). The Stratford, 20 International Way, London, E20 1FD. See thestratford.com

THE SCORE (out of five)

★★★★

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HIGHLIGHT

The higher you rise in this skyscraper, the more jaw-dropping the London vistas (upper-level apartment guests are the really lucky ones). For hotel guests, Allegra's 7th floor terrace bar is a nice elevated retreat, greened-up with trees and wildflowers.

LOWLIGHT

The location might not be the London of your dreams, but you'd fork out double (or more) for this quality of hotel in the capital's more touristy areas.

Steve McKenna was a guest of The Stratford and Visit Britain (visitbritain.com)