The Mondrian Wayfarer

From the moment we set foot into the Mondrian on Sunset Boulevard in 2003, we knew we’d stumbled upon something pretty special.

Parent company Morgans Hotel Group serve as the Godfathers of the “design hotel” and they have an intimate knowledge of creating intricate social scenes because in hotel-land, they invented them. A few decades ago the group’s original hotels, named Morgan, Hudson and Royalton in New York, turned this ol’ business upside down, and from something very staid into an industry where “hotels as theatre”, “Alice in Wonderland” and  “overtures”, became commonly used terms. Back then, Ian Schrager was at the helm and industrial designer Philippe Starck was by his side, MHG rolled out into Miami, London and of course Los Angeles, which brings our little prelude full circle.

A few decades on, MHGC is a publicly listed company and both Schrager and Starck have moved on to other projects. Cleverly Morgans identified three different brands within their portfolio that were scalable into same and different cities, namely Delano, Mondrian and Hudson. So the Mondrian London is a big, big deal and, without question, will define the future for the group. September 2014 in London is a month of hotel openings with the likes of Hoxton Holborn and The Beaumont to name a few, but Mondrian is perhaps the most anticipated, so when we popped in, we tried our best to keep our eyes from popping out.

Mondrian London is fun, different from what you’d expect and very, very big. Primarily because most of its ground and basement areas are for the public, effortlessly translating into eating, drinking and social hotspots. That’s 20,000 square feet completely open to passersby, drinkers and diners. Event spaces, you’re looking at another 5,500 square feet, featuring state of art tech and fully equipped junket spaces. The bedrooms are located first floor and above. We spotted a cinema, bathhouse social spa, meeting rooms, event rooms, restaurants and bars, and that’s before we hopped into the elevator, to see the sublime roof top bar.

The 359 bedrooms aren’t what you’d imagine from the Mondrian brand, and perhaps that’s the Mondrian London’s greatest strength. As much as we love Starck, and we do, Morgans are respected for taking their guests on a visually engaging journey, and that journey doesn’t always have to be pale white, angular and minimalist. If anything Mondrian London is the most maximalist Morgans product we’ve seen yet, and we really like it. There’s definitely a dynamic retro flair on offer here too.

The design narrative takes inspiration from the hotel’s full name, Mondrian at Sea Containers, housed in the old Sea Containers building, overlooking the Thames. Each of the spaces whether it be bedroom, bathhouse or beyond, has a wonderful spacious and lofty feeling. Designed by Design Research Studio and led by Tom Dixon, there’s a heavy lean on the sea faring and Thames narrative throughout the building, especially the roof itself. The end result is a hybrid between a high-end super yacht versus a luxury cruise liner. Perhaps the best manifestation of this contrast is the huge copper hull that houses the reception desk and then organically swoops round to eventually connect to the restaurant, it is both graceful and edgy.

The hotel is making great use of the local neighbourhood narrative too, after all, South London is a part of town where brand credibility is equally as important as commerciality. Their neighbours include The Tate Modern, Borough market, Oxo Tower and the Southbank Centre, all within walking distance. As far as the eating and drinking goes, Mondrian has it stitched up with legendary mixologist and all round gent Ryan Chetiyawardana AKA Mr Lyan, and believe us when we tell you, you’ve never seen a lounge like this. In the kitchen is one of New York’s most exciting chef’s, Seamus Mullen, who’s crafting a best of Britain with America, using fresh produce from nearby Borough Market.

If today’s hip hotel is best defined as a curator of experiences then Mondrian London will undeniably deliver. The cultural fabric of South London is so rich and paired with those strong Hollywood lights Mondrian is so famous for, we’ve a feeling that South-of-the-River and co. will never, ever be the same again.

Image courtesy of Morgans Hotel Group