Open since September 2014, Mondrian London at Sea Containers enjoys a killer position perched on the edge of the Thames, next to The Tate Modern, London Eye, National Theatre, and close to Borough Market, with St Paul’s a fleeting five-minute walk away.
It’s not so much about the tourist attractions themselves – it’s more the energy of being tucked in amongst all of that. The endless glide of boats on the water, the trickle of pedestrians along the river’s foot walk, the arms-length buzz of traffic, and the Heathrow flight path whirring above, serves up London’s amazing kaleidoscope of energy – but without being at all overwhelming.
It’s refreshing to let London hum all around you, and not feel swept away by it.
The fanfare around Mondrian London has largely focused upon UK designer Tom Dixon’s bravery and indulgence to craft a brand story rich in dimension. The location was originally meant to be a hotel but opened as offices for one of the largest shipping companies in the 70s, under the pencil of architect Warren Platner. It’s this intersection between America and Britain, office block and hotel, Dixon and Platner, and the original tenant, Sea Containers, that shaped the hotel’s theme of ‘The Transatlantic Voyage’.
Explains Dixon, “We thought that the transatlantic liners of the golden period of cruisers was a fitting departure point, we wanted the rooms to have a feeling of a cabin, with everything fitted, compact and properly thought through.”
He adds, “We made a massive intervention to the arrival sequence with a structure inspired by a ship’s hull, piercing through from the outside canopy into the lobby, and right past the elevators into the restaurant, all clad with copper.”
The concept dominates Rumpus Room, the hotel’s rooftop bar, capturing the glamour of an ocean liner’s top deck – semi circular leather booths and chandeliers, and a panoramic perspective on London that is pretty hard to topple.
Masculine, clean cut and modern, its 359 rooms run with the cabin theme. Steeped in gunmetal grey (aside a surprise fuchsia pink wardrobe to spark your attention) the rooms elevate their beds onto a pedestal – a subtle but worthwhile touch to soak up the Thames view.
For me, it’s what happened downstairs that caught my attention. Sea Containers Restaurant, from award-winning New York chef and restaurateur, Seamus Mullen – enjoying his first big break in the UK – was a favourite.
Mullen had rheumatoid arthritis and he cured himself through food, so everything is locally sourced from Borough Market with a ‘farm to table’ sharing concept – and features a huge open plan kitchen with a visible wood-fired grill that offers up the natural smoky flavours that are characteristic of Mullen’s cooking.
The restaurant runs along the riverside and I was fortunate to have the concertina doors open for the first time in late Spring. The Sunday Brunch was a highlight – if you’re not staying at the hotel, aim for that.
Dandelyan is the hotel’s seasonal cocktail bar, led by Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka “Mr.Lyan”. His bar ‘The White Lyan’ in Hoxton was recently awarded ‘Best New International Cocktail Bar’ and, for Mondrian London, he has crafted a menu that follows the botanical wilds of the English countryside, divided up into floral, cereal, mineral and vegetal.