London’s Hot New Neighbourhood
Since Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf first opened for guests 10 years ago, the Canary Wharf area of London has undergone an extensive transformation.
The real-life inspirations for the dispiriting riverside haunts in Charles Dickens’ novels Bleak House and Great Expectations are now long gone. In the place of the former abandoned warehouses of London’s Docklands—once the world’s largest port—are gleaming office towers in beautifully landscaped settings, world-class entertainment and trade show facilities, trendy shops and restaurants, pubs and wine bars, and recreational facilities.
“The transformation of the area has greatly accelerated in the past 10 years. The area has really taken off since we first opened our doors,” says Michael Purtill, general manager at Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf.
Since it opened 10 years ago, Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf has been at the epicentre of the growth. The statistics alone show the dramatic changes that have taken place in Canary Wharf. For instance, 27,000 worked in the area in 1999; today, more than 90,000 people work there.
But the improvements have been about more than quantity. Canary Wharf and the surrounding area has become an important cultural and business centre. Nearby, The O2, which opened in 2007, is a large entertainment district that includes a large arena for performances and sporting events, exhibition space and an area brimming with restaurants, bars, clubs and a multiplex cinema. Also close by is ExCel, the home of seven out of 10 of London’s top trade shows. ExCel will also be the site of seven events during London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
Just in the past few months, a string of new restaurants has opened in Canary Wharf, including Jamie’s Italian, inspired by Chef Jamie Olivier. These new restaurants join well-established restaurants and pubs in the area such as Plateau, which serves a Modern British menu, and Chef Gordon Ramsay’s riverside pub, The Narrow, in nearby Limehouse. Canada Place Mall anchors the local shopping scene.
Getting to and from Canary Wharf has never been easier. Nearby London City Airport is only 15 minutes from the Hotel, and it continues to expand. The airport serves more than 30 destinations in Europe and the United Kingdom, and recently British Airways launched an all-business class flight from London City Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf is also on the Jubilee line extension, giving quick access to other parts of the city through the Underground. The Thames Clipper, a high-speed catamaran, whisks passengers from Canary Wharf pier to central London every 20 minutes.
Locally, Greenwich is just a short trip away, one that includes a walk under the Thames in a Victorian foot tunnel. Green spaces and architecturally significant buildings abound there, including the Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Observatory. Greenwich is also the site of the Prime Meridian (O degrees longitude), which is indicated by a marker.
“Of course, the real cause célèbre here is the River Thames. The hotel has a spectacular riverfront location, and I find that guests love the view. It’s one of the most famous rivers in the world,” says Purtill.
Four Seasons Hotel Canary Wharf has recently completed extensive guest room renovations, including new beds and window seats, just in time for its 10th anniversary.