Enjoy a nautical getaway against one of London’s most visually impressive backdrops
When you imagine an overnight escape in London, your immediate thoughts are probably of suites in Knightsbridge and Mayfair or a trendy boutique hotel in the City. But if you’re willing to look a little outside of those traditional comfort zones you’ll be rewarded with a treat that’s as unusual as it is relaxing.
Superyachts have long been the playground of the rich and fabulous around the world, but you don’t see too many of them gracing the docks of our vibrant city. Nevertheless, in east London, just moments from the ExCel Centre and Royal Victoria Dock, you’ll find Sunborn London, one of a series of permanently moored floating hotels docked in exciting locations around the world.
Custom House may not immediately appear to be the most glamorous of locations, but as far as urban views go, Sunborn London guests will enjoy a pretty spectacular one over the O2, Emirates Airline and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.
On the inside, too, the yacht is decked out with suitably decadent décor. Stepping out of the lift into the reception area, the double staircase with its fabulously OTT chandelier is like something out of Beauty and the Beast, and you can almost imagine yourself on a modern, pared-down version of the Titanic (with much less chance of encountering icebergs, forsooth).
Dinner at the Lands End restaurant, thanks to the modern feel and background vistas over the city, coupled with the traditional feel of dinner service aboard a yacht or cruise liner, revives that interesting juxtaposition.
The menu is simple but well presented; I particularly recommend the sticky toffee pudding for a treacly treat to end your repast.
The cabins are demonstrably just that; they have the water-tight doors and wood panelling you’d expect from a sea-faring vessel, but care and attention has been put in to make sure that this is top-of-the-range accommodation. Our room on the main deck looks out over the water from a private balcony, and as night falls over the city, the twinkling lights of London spread patterns through the large glass wall.
One of the highlights of our stay (aside from the incredibly friendly staff) is the divinely comfortable and remarkably large bed in our cabin; a much-appreciated experience that offers plenty of space to stretch out after over-indulging at dinner.
But there’s more on offer aboard Sunborn London than just dinner and down-time; there’s a full Elemis spa on the main deck which offers facials, body treatments and everyday beauty essentials – perfect for a spot of pampering – or, for an unusual cinema experience, join the Sunday evening Sunborn London Movie Club (more on that in Luxury London’s cinema experiences round-up).
The Sunborn London might be a permanent fixture, but a night aboard is a great way to experience the luxury of the high seas without even leaving the city.