The Blackfriars area isn’t one I normally frequent, because most of my meetings and events tend to be West or Central, however when the opportunity arose to explore the area – staying in the new ibis Blackfriars Hotel, we took it as a chance to indulge in a bit of post-Christmas sale shopping and snap some pictures along the Thames. So, on a quiet Tuesday morning, we made our way across Blackfriars Bridge to check in.
The hotel itself is part of the ibis chain – and you have an assured quality associated when you stay with them. I have heard lots of positive things about their hotels in the past (which are located all over the UK) and so was really excited to see what was in store. Typically, it is a bit formulaic and each room is identical, which doesn’t mean that it’s entirely photogenic or special – but it’s a clean, comfortable and modern place to lay your head for the night – which you can’t complain about.
The reception area however, did provide several more photo opportunities – laden with festive decorations (we stayed a few nights after Christmas). The lobby and dining area merge into one, creating a really lovely and welcoming open plan feel. There are lots of staff buzzing around helpfully with iPads to check you in as quickly as possible – and behind the front desk, there is a rather memorising moving board – with handy weather news and hotel information.
After leaving our bags at reception, we ventured outside to explore the surrounding area. And what a beautiful area it was. Even in the cold, wind and rain. Oh UK weather. Don’t we just love you.
We spent a good couple of hours walking around Southbank and had a rather disappointing lunch at Giraffe. However keen to make the most of our time, we then jumped on the tube to Oxford Circus and made way for the main shops to hunt down some bargains. Unfortunately, sale shopping is much better on paper than it is in principle, as usually as soon as I enter the shop and see rails upon rails of clothes to sift through, I immediately recoil. In total, I ended up buying a Graze Herby Bread Basket (the best thing ever, may I add).
Exhausted, we headed back to our hotel room to get ready for dinner – which luckily for us – was right next-door to the hotel at Jamboree – an amazing world-cuisine fusion restaurant with a quirky, fun atmosphere and amazing neon decor. They have an incredible selection of items on the menu – and an equally as impressive cocktail menu.
After tasting an assortment of cocktails (we couldn’t decide on just one each), we eventually got round to choosing our starters. Mine a delicious tomato and garlic bruschetta and David’s, a tomato soup. Unfortunately the lighting (although amazing in person) wasn’t the best for photographing your food, so I’m not sure we’ve adequately captured quite how fantastic it was. You might just have to take my word for it. I love bruschetta, as it’s pretty healthy and always so flavoursome. Sometimes restaurants get it totally wrong (soggy bread, not enough garlic) but Jamboree got it so right.
The mains were a burger-based affair, mine a marinated chicken burger (in a DF, GF, EF bun) with sweet potato fries (*insert heart eye emoji*) and David’s the Raging Bull – a mix of chilli, avocado, onion and lots of meat. We were a little bit disappointed on the fries side of things, as we’d ordered the ‘shoestring’ variety – only to be greeted with normal looking chips – however, it didn’t let the side down, as both meals were absolutely incredible, teamed with cocktails that are handily paired for you (based on your meal choice) on the menu.
Dessert was an array of sweet treats. A blackberry sorbet for DF me (it’s always nice when there’s a choice I can indulge in) and a mix of popcorn, ice cream and chocolate sauce to create a sundae.
Luckily, having absolutely stuffed ourselves, we were only in for a short walk ‘home’ – and fell into bed, falling straight to sleep. We had the most wonderful (short but sweet) time exploring Blackfriars and had an incredible view of the London skyline from our 14th floor window.
If you’re in the market for a hotel in the area, I’d definitely check out ibis for an affordable (yet comfortable and modern) room. The breakfast is also AMAZING, with fresh smoothies, hash browns (my weakness) and gluten free, dairy free chocolate chip cookies. Yep. Really.