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Suite Dreams: Hilton London Bankside

A night in the penthouse suite? Don’t mind if we do…

Escaping the everyday doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the city.

Often when we most need a night off from the daily grind is when we have the least time to do so. Thankfully, there is an answer – and this week it comes in the form of the lush Penthouse suite at the Hilton London Bankside – the perfect overnight escape slap-bang in the middle of London.Checking in to the hotel (just a short walk from Southwark tube station) it’s easy to leave my other self at the door.

Unlike other penthouses, this one isn’t located on the top floor. I’ll say straight off – if you’re looking for a ‘room with a view’ – this isn’t it. Nestled just moments from the riverbank but behind several towers, the Hilton Bankside is surrounded on all sides. Having said that, as I pop out onto the terrace (briefly, as it’s pouring with rain) I get a very ‘New York roof terrace’ kind of vibe. It’s a seriously cool space.

Back inside, it’s time to explore the rest of the suite. The main living area is open plan, with very subtle, dark-wood kitchen area set off to one side, and a large desk overlooking the main seating area – plenty of space here to bring your work with you, should you wish. The sofas are large and comfortable, plush blues and rich golds making up the fabric design scheme.

The rest of the interior décor is modern and unusual, thanks to the partnership between Dexter Moren Associates and twenty2degrees. A large, zebra-striped photograph mural by Alexander Khokhlov renders the large doors which can be closed to hide the television rather unmissable. An expensive-looking chess set and model ship offer a more traditional feel, juxtapositioned against the modern art collection that adorns the walls. Curated by Peter Millard and Partners Ltd, it’s easy to see the influence of the nearby Tate Modern on this exciting space.

It’s easy to see the influence of the nearby Tate Modern

And things are no different in the bedroom. Dominated by one of the largest beds I’ve ever seen (and can’t wait to sleep in) its colour scheme is a vibrant combination of rich purples, muted greys and flashy oranges.

The pièce de résistance, for me at least, is the bathroom, which not only boasts a separate toilet (in addition to the washroom in the main living quarters) but the most enormous walk-in shower I’ve seen. You could fit an entire football team in there, comfortably. 

Large mirrors give the illusion of even more space, and I immediately set the taps running in the hefty tub ready for a relaxing soak before dinner.

Dressed and ready, my other half joins me downstairs for our dinner date at the hotel’s OXBO Bankside restaurant. The menu makes the most of seasonal British ingredients, with a host of tasty options on offer (the swordfish in particular was delicious). The most striking thing about the restaurant is the décor – artistic impressions of ‘stuffed’ exotic animal heads (including a unicorn) adorn the walls for a safari/fantasy theme which is really rather magical.

Artistic impressions of ‘stuffed’ exotic animal heads (including a unicorn) adorn the walls for a safari/fantasy theme which is really rather magical

Next door is The Distillery bar, home to a substantial number of different gins, where we stop for an after-dinner drink. The vibe is laid-back luxury – and the bar is bustling throughout the evening on the Thursday we visit.

Back upstairs, I soon realise (with the help of my inquisitive other half) that there’s plenty more to the penthouse that I haven’t yet discovered. Take, for example, the large abstract painting behind the bed. I notice small finger-holds in the bottom, and realise that the entire artwork opens up, pulling apart the bathroom mirror on its opposite side for a clear view right through into the bathroom.

I’m not quite sure what you would use this for, but it’s a nifty little discovery that causes much amusement.

It’s the little touches like this that make the suite. I love, for example, the light fittings next to the bed by Curiousa & Curiousa. I like that all the lighting can be easily adapted to the mood – with settings for bright visibility, romantic ambiance – and even the ‘just enough light to find your way to bed’ option.

The Hilton London Bankside might traditionally be seen as a ‘business’ hotel, but the penthouse suite is anything but businesslike. For me, it feels more like the quirky showpiece home of an interior designer or artist.

Sadly, overnight mid-week escapes are over all too soon. I feel like I haven’t had enough time to fully appreciate everything the Penthouse has to offer – but I’m left with one overwhelming thought. This would be a great place for a party. 

From £465 per night, including breakfast. Hilton London Bankside, 2-8 Great Suffolk St, London SE1 0UG, 020 3667 5600, www.londonbankside.hilton.com