The epic views from the balcony at the Mondrian London
So what's the plan?
We want a chic city break that doesn't feel like it's in the city. Not too much to ask, right? Right! We've got just the place. The newly opened Mondrian Hotel London in Southbank's iconic Sea Containers building is the latest addition to the Mondrian franchise (after New York and LA) and the coolest place to stay south of the river.
We're interested, tell us more…
Designed completely by interior designer du jour Tom Dixon, the Mondrian is the most Pinterest-worthy hotel we've stayed in for a while. Combining his signature mix of Anglo-American style with traditional cruise liner features, you'd be hard pushed to find a more stylish hotel this side of the Thames. Step inside and you're presented with thousands of beaten copper panels, and that's just the reception. Weave your way around the ginormous electric blue sculpture (just one of many art pieces scattered throughout the hotel) and escape into the lifts. Even here, Tom Dixon's presence is felt as each lift is backed with a hologram featuring an iconic British and American image. Our fav? The US punk rocker meets Queen Elizabeth I. And it doesn't stop there. We grooved up to our room to the funkiest soundtrack ever, no boring lift music here.
Sounds cool, but where's the sea theme?
Everywhere. Literally. From the more obvious porthole style lights behind reception and model ships in cases chilling in the lounge area to subtle cats eyes embedded in the floor to 'guide' you round the ship, the Mondrian has taken the Sea Containers theme and run with it. But a Thompson cruise ship this aint. Honorable mention goes to the super luxe restaurant toilets which are Instagram-worthy in themselves. Yes, we got excited about toilets.
Ok we've had the grand tour, take us to the bedroom!
First thing's first, the view is insane. Looking straight out across the Thames, it's a little crazy to think you're staying this close to so many iconic London buildings. From St Pauls to the Shard, the view itself is reason enough to stay here. Trust us, if you're trying to impress an out-of-towner, this is the place to do it.
What's that sound?
The Thames, duh. But seriously, the movement of the river sounds like you're at the seaside and when the tide is in and you can't see the ground beneath you, it feels uncannily like you're actually staying on a boat. There's an overwhelming feeling of space, which two minutes away from Waterloo is a true luxury.
Back to the bedroom…
Well, what can we say, it's massive. With two separate toilets, a giant lounge area and double balcony, there's more than enough room to breathe. It's stylish and minimal but in no way boring or expected; this is much more than your usual cookie-cutter hotel design. Snazzy features like the cut-out perspex panel separating the 'bedroom' from the 'living room' feel thoughtful and look great. Oversized purple velvet armchairs and double sofas are super cosy and stop the room feeling too clinical in the midst of so much design. Little touches like two TVs so you can watch from your bed or the sofa, the full-length porthole bathroom mirror and the bed being opposite the balcony so you can wake up to that epic view of London's best from your bed make all the difference. And we noticed. But the ultimate luxury? There's a plug socket by the bed. We don't want to count how many times we've got into bed only to find the only plug socket halfway across the room or in the bathroom. Never underestimate the joy of charging your phone actually within reach. True indulgence.
What about the mini bar?
We'll be honest, it's the most finely curated mini-bar we've ever seen. From Hope and Greenwood Blueberry Muffin sweets to pre-bottled artisan cocktails, we had a difficult time resisting it all. Oh, and there's even an aux in cable for all the techies out there. Perfect.
We've spent so long ogling the bedroom it's time for drinks, where are we going?
Jump in the lift and take a trip down to the Dandelyan bar on the ground floor. Decked out in pink leather booths and gold finished mirrors with, yes you guessed it, a cracking view of the Thames, Dandelyan is the hottest cocktail destination to reach Southbank. Our top tip? Sit at the bar and check out the show as the super-hip (and hot) barmen put together cocktail creations.
Right, now we're hungry…
Trundle over to the other side of the hotel to the Sea Containers restaurant. If you're not sure where it is, just look for the giant yellow submarine hanging over the bar. Described as British American cuisine by the lovely Ed who showed us to our room, we were intrigued to find a lot of seemingly Meditteranean dishes on the small but well-curated menu. But this is where the complaints ended. The weird sounding but delicious Farra Risotto with Mushrooms, Cucumber and Dried Cherries was a welcome change from your usual heavy carb side whilst the Salmon with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Crisps, Tenderstem Broccoli and Salsify was light, intense in flavour and perfectly cooked. Chewy slices of potato that have been titled 'crisps' are usually our pet hate so we were pleasantly surprised when these arrived on our plate.
A side of charred padron peppers were served swiftly and unfussily; we could eat bowls full of these for days. But the highlight of the meal is most definitely dessert. This is where healthy eating goes out the window and full on pudding indulgence enters. Apple pie with cider ice cream was comforting and as those ever present Americans always say, 'Just like momma made it'. Our top tip? Order the homemade cookies to take away - the perfect midnight snack.
We've had a great night's sleep (the bed was amazing), breakfast time?
It's back downstairs to the Sea Containers restaurant where a buffet of epic proportions awaits you. Home-made bread, miniature pastries and pats of individually wrapped salted butter are just a few of the delicious delights on offer. Go uber indulgent and add a glass of champers to your continental breakfast. When in London…
Breakfast was great, but now we could do with a lie down…
Off to the underground Aqua bathhouse and spa with you! Wind your way through the entirely white and enticingly textured reception to the secluded treatment rooms. A Guru massage was the order of the day. Slight warning here - Guru means deep tissue, so more of a sorting the aches and pains than drifting off to sleep moment. On with the treatment, the lovely Motoko sat me down for a pre-massage consultation. Asking me how I would like to feel that day, she expertly mixed oils from the apothecary behind her to suit my mood. My prescription? A blend of peppermint, bergamot and frankincense to leave me feeling refreshed but chilled. Perfect. 50 mins later and Motoko has successfully kneaded out any tension my back was previously hanging on to. I feel fully stretched in all the right places and the uplifting scent of peppermint fills the room.
We're already sad it's over…
Ummmm hold your horses, we're not done here. Ever delightful, Motoko leads us through to the Spa lounge aka the most relaxing room of all time. Tom Dixon's design strikes again as giant copper tear drop descends gracefully from the ceiling into a gently rippling pool of water. Reclining on one of the privately screened off beds, Motoko appears with tea, a duvet and yes, you heard us correctly, a water bottle. It's genuinely a bit difficult to explain just how awesome this was. Cosy and comforting, we let ourselves be looked after by the attentive staff. Peaceful and relaxing, this is officially the ultimate escape from the commuter-smogged city above.
Apart from feeling amazingly relaxed and refreshed? Actually, yes. A gift of your own miniature bottle of your personal oil blend and instructions on how to use it once you're back in the real world. Now that's what we call service.
Sounds amazing, how do I book?
Just click HERE. Simples.
By George Driver/@iamgdriver