What a fun surprise! London needs more affordable hotels with panache, and this one delivers. The Qbic, from a growing affordable design hotel chain in Holland, is a wacky antidote to the formula budget hotels. Everything you need—bed, outlets, bathroom with a rain shower, TV—is a part of a prefabricated unit that dominates the middle of the room. It's not a capsule hotel, just a hotel that figured out a way to build everything into a single multi-purpose unit, with plenty of room to walk around it and stash your suitcase, without making you uncomfortable in the least. Your lamp is made out of a coiled and immobilized garden hose, your clothing rack a strange ladder/planter of some sort—it's just fun. There are free coffee and tea machines on every floor, and a preposterously funky lobby where organic continental breakfast is served daily. You'll be within walking distance to Brick Lane (5 minutes), the Tower of London (15 minutes), and the scene of Spitalfields (15 minutes), and you'll be amused to learn that the United States' Liberty Bell was made on the very same block at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which you can see from courtyard-facing rooms. It's a kick, it's not at all like a shabby hostel or a staid business hotel, the managers are sensitive to local culture, and it's worth every penny.
- Jason Cochran