As far as London hotels go, Sunborn London has to be one of the most unique in terms of setting, housed in a 128m super yacht docked in the Royal Victoria Docks. It features 136 rooms, many of which have private balconies offering views of London’s iconic skyline as well as a restaurant, bar and Elemis spa.
New? Following its sister hotel Sunborn Gibraltar, Sunborn London opened its doors in October 2014.
Where? Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL, www.sunbornhotels.com
First Impressions: Situated next to the ExCeL building, the yacht certainly looks slick from the outside – you can only imagine what you’d have to earn to be able to afford one of these – as they say, a super yacht for the super-rich. The reception area is dominated by a sweeping glass staircase and glittering chandelier leading up to the restaurant, said to be reminiscent of the luxury of cruise ships gone by. Unfortunately the welcome didn’t live up to that luxury, despite asking for an early check in, our room wasn’t ready and we weren’t told any of the basic information – what time breakfast was, where it was served; instead we were just left to sit in the bar wondering where to go.
The Look: Whilst elements of the hotel were elegant and luxurious – namely the staircase – the rest of the hotel just didn’t have that feel. We were staying in a Yacht Executive room, it had plenty of space, a wonderful king-sized bed to sink into and ample storage space. That said, the room just felt a little dreary; grey/beige carpets ran into beige walls and teak panels felt dated, as did the white wall lamps. The shower room, rather than feeling chic and modern felt stark and clinical and for a 4* hotel they still had those little white hairdryers attached to the wall – that said they did have Molton Brown products which is always a bonus. Given it’s marine setting you’d have thought more would have been made of this in the interior but there wasn’t even a hint; in short it feels like the interior needs an update if they want to be super luxe.
What We Ate: On board the yacht is the Lands End restaurant, so-called after the area’s name in the 1800s when it was the end of London. It’s relaxed and informal and when we arrived bustling with every table full. Warm bread served with garlic infused butter arrived promptly, as did a glass of Prosecco – so far so good. To start, oxtail croquettes served with béarnaise were delicious although the accompanying celeriac puree was a little bland. Beautifully presented, scallops were meaty and served with chorizo and caviar. The main courses, however, were not to the same standard; whilst the garlic mash and shredded lamb shoulder were wonderful, the flageolet beans were a little dreary and the ‘best end’ lamb was fatty, tasteless and overpriced at £30. Veal noisette was tough although the Romanesco broccoli, cep and smoked bacon jus was a welcome addition. Sadly, gratin potatoes were undercooked and cold. We finished with an apple and pecan charlotte which was both indulgent, sweet and light.
What We Drank: Tronido Crianza 2011, Rioja, Spain
Go With: Being so close to ExCeL it’s ideal if you’re looking for somewhere to stay after a conference or event.
Final Word: Whilst the hotel has potential, the 4* rating, the use of luxury throughout the website and the glossy images are a little misleading compared to the other 4* and boutique hotels London has to offer.