George Hamilton, who is taking over from Matt Baggott as head of the police service, vowed to bring justice to the perpetrators of the overnight attack on the Everglades.
A masked man claiming to be from the IRA went into the hotel lobby at around 11pm on Thursday and left an incendiary device in a holdall, issuing a 40-minute warning to staff.
The device later exploded while army bomb experts were working on it. No one was injured in the blast or the resulting fire, however, extensive damage was caused to the property.
"I think the fact it has happened indicates some of the challenges that face us," said long-serving officer George Hamilton in his first public appearance since his promotion.
We will be doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice.
"These are people who are opposed to peace, they are people who are trying to use violence, who are damaging the economic well-being of the country, who are taking jobs off people and they don't actually care about this place or about the citizens of it - I do, deeply.
"We will be doing everything in our power possible to prevent occurrences like that and when they do occur we will be doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice."
Police earlier praised the heroic actions of staff at the hotel who helped evacuate the building, saying they had "undoubtedly prevented a tragedy".
Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin told UTV: "No doubt we would have had mass casualties had this exploded when people were inside the hotel. The cowardly people who went into the hotel said they were from the IRA, so that's a lead we will be following up."
Guests were taken to alternative accommodation in Derry after the attack. Victoria Road, near the hotel, was closed for most of the day, but it has since reopened.
The hotel had been a venue for a recent PSNI recruitment event and had been scheduled to hold another one next week.
Sir William Hastings, chair of the Hastings Hotels group, praised his staff at the Everglades for averting a "major atrocity" and said the hotel would be open to business "as soon as possible".
"I am confident this despicable action will not deter the people of this city from their resolve to take the city forward," he said.
The bomber made his escape in a red Volkswagen Golf, with the registration number YIB 8658, which was driven by another man. It was later found burnt out in the city's Glendara estate.
Two men were seen leaving the car at the time and police have said they would be keen to speak to them. Dissident republicans are being blamed for the attack, which has been widely condemned.
Justice Minister David Ford said: "I know that the overwhelming majority of Derry people will be appalled by this attack, and we stand with them against those who want to stop their city moving forward."
DUP Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster described the attack was a "reckless attempt to kill" that had the potential to damage the good work done to promote the city after the culture year.
She added: "It is extremely fortunate there were no injuries.
"I know that almost without exception the local community will be appalled by last night's attack and I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the police."
The heroic actions of the Everglades staff are to be praised as they worked to ensure the safety of their guests.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan hit out at those behind the attack. He said: "People of Derry won't see this as an attack against a particular site but, in fact, an attack against the whole city.
"So many people are working hard to move the city forward, but those behind this device are trying to drag us all back to worse times.
"Such methods demonstrate only a negative, violent capacity, not a viable strategy or credible rationale.
"The nature of the device, and the manner of this reckless attack, show that they are a threat to anyone and everyone.
"That is why we must be united and strong in rejecting their ways, and affirming peace and progress as our chosen determined collective right," the local SDLP representative said.
Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey, a member of the Policing Board, added his condemnation.
He said: "We should be focusing on attracting much needed jobs and investment to the Maiden City and the wider north west area and these fascists who insist on engaging in bomb and gun attacks are endangering lives and jeopardising progress."
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: "Such attacks can have no place or justification in our society. It was pure luck that no one was hurt or injured.
"Those responsible have nothing to bring to their community or Northern Ireland and I urge anyone with information to bring it to the police."
But a newly elected Independent councillor closely associated with dissident republicanism refused to condemn the attack.
Gary Donnelly said: "No amount of condemnation will prevent attacks like that, nor will I condone it, but I think while there is a violation of Irish sovereignty attacks like this will be inevitable."