Contributor/ Alexander Larman
Best Known For
The Mondrian’s first outpost outside the US opened last October and has already attracted plaudits for its stunning Tom Dixon design, as well as how it has elegantly managed to turn the old Sea Containers building into one of London’s destination settings already. With two much talked-about bars (including the already famous Rumpus Room), a beautiful riverside restaurant and even its own Curzon cinema, this is the thinking person’s five star hotel. With its stated intent to bring artists, writers and ‘creative people’ together, it’s perhaps best compared to an open-to-all members’ club.
The Good Stuff
Deliberately designed by Dixon for breathtaking effect, skilfully synthesising elements of American and British style and keeping elements of the Sea Containers history, it’s a blast to spend time in. The rooms – many of which have Thames views – are as spacious and comfortable as you’d expect, but it’s the public spaces that really wow, not least the Dandelayn bar on the ground floor (try the fabulous ‘Chablis’ cocktail) and the Sea Containers restaurant. Supervised by American chef Seamus Mullen, there’s an unapologetically outsized feel to the space, which combines quirky design touches (check out the Warhol-esque displays of Colman’s mustard) with fabulous food. Dishes are designed to share, and several of them (not least moreish burrata and a lavish pork chop) are likely to instil territorial feelings among those dividing them up. A newly launched brunch is apparently very popular as well.
The crowd here is predominantly well-dressed and sophisticated people in their 30s and 40s, with a mixture of Shoreditch types puzzling away over their laptops in the ‘Den’ and well-heeled hotel guests drinking and dining. There’s a subterranean spa that has the air of a Bond villain’s den, and the small but impeccably comfortable cinema shows quirky and offbeat films at weekends.
Inside the hotel – 10/10
You could happily come here for a couple of days and not step foot outside, such is the plethora of things to observe and interact with. Calling it a grown-up playground sounds patronising, but the giddily entertaining feel of it all makes one feel like a child in a very well-designed sweet shop. Check out the lifts, complete with cheekily subversive holograms lurking inside them.
Outside the hotel – 9/10
Situated between the South Bank and Borough, there are many places to eat and drink nearby, and St Paul’s glowers over at you from the other side of the river, to remind you that some things in London weren’t built in the 21st century. The only (minor) black mark against it is that it’s a pain to reach if you’re carrying heavy bags – although for most of the guests, arriving in a procession of sleek Uber or chauffeur-driven cars, carrying their own luggage is something that they haven’t had to do in a very long time.
Image courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group