As the only airport that’s actually inside the city, London City Airport is remarkable in so many ways. Quicker and cheaper to get to than Heathrow or Gatwick, it represents a special portal in and out of the capital. Our London City Airport guide offers a unique insight into the area’s best bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels. Located in the Royal Docks (Newham), the airport sits just six short miles away from the City of London and a mere two miles from Canary Wharf. So inevitably the majority of people who use this crafty little airport earn their keep in the capital’s finance sector. But with just one terminal and a single runway, London City Airport is constantly at the mercy of strict laws surrounding its existence. Much like at Addison Lee, London City Airport have to constantly be aware of safety. Careful dues have to be paid to both the noise made by incoming planes as well as obvious restrictions on how and where those planes fly out of. So much so that only specialist jets and crews are actually allowed to land or take off in this densely populated area. Built in the mid 1980s, London City Airport’s popularity has grown and grown over the past decade or so. And in 2015 4.3m passengers flew in or out of it. Which was a whopping 18% increase on the year previous. And it wasn’t just a one off either, the airport’s popularity has grown steadily every year as it starts to serve more recreational destinations like Mallorca and Milan. Today this is an airport that attracts passengers all year round. Meaning more and more people coming to the area needing a stop off for refreshments, food and even a place to get their head down. Fortunately our London City Airport guide is here to help. Read on to uncover the best restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels nearby.
Where to drink
Full disclosure, the Connaught is not just a bar, it’s also a restaurant and, primarily, a hotel. The reason we’ve picked it above several flashier establishments is its absolute proximity to the airport. Put another way, if you’re short on time but fancy a quick drink away from the terminal, the Fox is ideal. As part of the Excel warehouse (a huge exhibition space), this handily located pub opens at 6am to serve breakfast and then stays open til 11pm every night, serving food pretty much throughout. It’s not going to win any awards for style or design but it does have an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy a little bit of sunshine before you jet off to… probably more sunshine. Tough life, eh?
Lynx Way, E16 1JR
The Royal Docklands are not exactly famous for having lots of great places to sink a drink. In fact, most local residents find themselves having to resort to hotel bars to quench their post-work thirst. Which is why their was a collective sigh of relief when local water sports company Wake-Up took over an ex-Royal Navy refuelling barge and transformed it into a working bar. The Oiler is a simple beast, they don’t have a massive drinks selection (although it is growing), and it does have a slightly hammered together feel about it. But the truth is it’s a unique bar that does things simply and well. And with few other bars in the area it still represents one of the only places to sit on the river and enjoy a pint.
1 Dock Rd, E16 1AG
A little further away but undoubtedly worth the journey is local favourite The Pilot. First off, before you ask: yes you have seen The Pilot before. It was featured in Blur’s iconic ‘Parklife’ video. But far from being a hokey east London boozer, it’s a remarkably pleasant place to drink and eat. And not just that, it’s also a lovely hotel too (like, seriously lovely – see below). Outside there’s a charming garden terrace (as well as a roof garden) that helps you slip away from the grimier aspects of the Royal Docklands. It’s the kind of place you’d never know was there if it wasn’t for us – so, you’re welcome! And the drinks are all absolutely on point. With a comprehensive list of ales, lagers, wines and soft drinks.
68 River Way, SE10 0BE
Where to eat
This place is tremendous. As in, ‘book-ahead’ tremendous. Taking a simple concept and making it very personal, The Gun is a traditional pub through and through, embracing every aspect of their thoroughly British feel. The food is also quintessentially English or so it would seem at first glance, boasting everything between fish and chips and truffle tortellini. And while it may not be as cheap as some more earthy local gastropubs, you certainly feel as though you’re getting your money’s worth. On a sunny day the outdoor terrace is an absolutely delightful spot to take in the river at its most girthy.
27 Coldharbour, Docklands, E14 9NS
Relatively new to the local scene, Craft London is an ingenious little restaurant in North Greenwich. The idea behind this place was to create a British restaurant that uses modern expertise to craft second-to-none food and drinks. Relying almost exclusively on cutting edge food preparation processes. Everything from smoking, meat curing and vegetable fermentation take place in their remarkably contemporary “kitchen garden”. And the outcome is nothing short of astonishing. And with everything sourced in Britain, including their hyper-chic furniture, this is an affair to be proud of. Craft has been garnering applause across the media since opening and we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
1 Green Pl, SE10 0PE
Unfortunately when you’re in this part of London great restaurants rarely come cheap. That being said, you also very rarely spend your money on food that isn’t worth it. Roka may not be cheap but it certainly is great (and well worth the cost), especially if you love Japanese food. Opened to much fanfare in Canary Wharf after success at their Mayfair and Fitzrovia sites, this incarnation has been supplying the hungry hordes with great sushi and sashimi for a little while now. And how. The food here is ornate, stunning, exquisite and delicious all at once. Which is apt given the lavish location. Do expect to pay a little more than you would normally but also expect a truly amazing dining experience.
4 park pavilion, 40 canada square, E14 5FW
Where to stay
Hands up if you’ve ever wanted to stay on a yacht? Now you can. The Suborn is a five-star hotel situated in a moored superyacht. Located just two miles from London City Airport, this miraculous hotel offers full sized rooms with en suite bathrooms and touch-pad room controls. Pay a little extra and you can have a balcony with a river view. Don’t feel obliged to though because the bar and restaurant already offer incredible views as it is. Need somewhere to stop with the family? The Suborn is ideal as kids stay free. And just imagine how excited they’ll be. A once in a lifetime destination. Unless you come back. Which, let’s face it you probably will. Rooms start at £119 p/n.
Given how much of the local area seems to focus around the nearby O2 arena, it almost seems silly not to indulge a little visit. And if you’re going to go ‘all that way’ then you may as well rest your weary feet and bed down in one of their glamorous hotel rooms while you’re there too, no? The Intercontinental is a rather special luxury hotel set in Royal Greenwich (just 350 yards from the O2 itself). Stretched over 18 floors, the hotel features a luxury restaurant and bar that happily satisfy all the needs of anyone who stays there. While the impressive range of rooms will leave you feeling well and truly rested. Rooms start at £131 p/n.
Yes, we’ve already mentioned The Pilot as a great place to drink and eat but did we tell you about the hotel? Sure we could have sold you on a budget hotel somewhere right by the airport but we just don’t like thinking of you in those tiny little rooms with absolutely no character. Painted as ‘eclectic’ by some, we’d rather describe the Pilot’s rooms as vibrant and bursting with joy. They offer Superior Doubles, Standard Doubles and the Captain’s Cabin. Which although snug is still a great place to spend the night. Rooms start at £89 p/n.