ROYAL DOCKS

Why it’s worth spend­ing a night on the wa­ter even if some touches are more style over sub­stance

The Wharf - - Details - Laura En­field

We try a night on the dock at Sun­born Lon­don’s rooms

S ur­real is the word that comes to mind when ar­riv­ing at Sun­born Lon­don.

The gleam­ing white su­per yacht ho­tel is per­ma­nently moored out­side Ex­cel and fre­quently sur­rounded by a stream of themed vis­i­tors, from pos­ing pooch own­ers to YOLO spout­ing YouTube gu­rus.

When we ar­rive a fan­tas­ti­cal crowd of sci-fi su­per­heros, myth­i­cal beasts and colour­ful DIY cre­ations greet us – the fall out from MCM Comic Con.

But step­ping in­side the golden lift we are trans­ported to a glam­orously retro world more akin to a Her­cule Poirot mys­tery.

A set of glim­mer­ing spi­ral stair­cases adorn the art deco lobby lead­ing up to a din­ing room with mir­rored ceil­ings.

Here we dis­cover a cast of eclec­tic char­ac­ters. We dine along­side a sul­try stun­ner and her burly com­pan­ion, smi­ley Slo­vakian new­ly­weds and sil­ver-haired re­tirees on a long-planned jaunt to the cap­i­tal.

I’m dis­tracted from my game of imag­i­nary Who­dun­nit by the strange choice of elec­tronic mu­sic and lime and orange flo­ral ar­range­ments that add a dis­tinctly 1990s vibe to pro­ceed­ings.

The menu how­ever is full of clas­sic dishes such as smoked duck with as­para­gus (£15), seabass with Left, a room at the float­ing ho­tel and the pretty, but flavour-lite food at the restau­rant wild mush­rooms and roasted fig (£25) and lemon tart with chan­tilly cream (£8). The pre­sen­ta­tion is el­e­gant with mod­ern touches such as ed­i­ble flow­ers; but style wins over sub­stance as the flavours are pleas­ant but noth­ing to shout about.

Our cock­tail or­der is mem­o­rable for be­ing the po­lar op­po­site. The drinks ar­rive look­ing fright­en­ingly like some­thing skimmed from the top of the dock but ac­tu­ally taste rather good.

Even the most ea­gled-eyed guest would strug­gle to find fault with our room, one of 136 spread over five decks. Larger than ex­pected, it’s pre­dictably ship-shape.

There are Molton Brown toi­letries, an in-room tablet for ho­tel in­for­ma­tion and a bed of above av­er­age com­fort- im­por­tant when even the stur­di­est of glaz­ing fails to deaden the roar of air­craft from neigh­bour­ing Lon­don City Air­port.

Noise is­sues aside, the lo­ca­tion pro­vides stun­ning views from our water­side bal­cony.

There is some­thing al­most un­real about watch­ing the orange sun­set over The O2 dome and the glid­ing gon­do­las of the Emi­rates Air Line with Ca­nary Wharf glis­ten­ing in the back­ground.

As such we skip a visit to the Sun­down cock­tail bar or Cinema room and sim­ply re­lax in seclu­sion.

To buoy up the sooth­ing ef­fects, I pay a visit to the Sym­phony Skin Ther­apy Rooms at the end of our cor­ri­dor.

Sun­born is one of the few Lon­don ho­tels to of­fer the Car­i­tas Ci­netic Lift treat­ments. But I de­cide to pass on the elec­tri­cal cur­rent pro­ce­dure for a tai­lored fa­cial with De­cleor prod­ucts.

There is a scrub, which smells like Marmite (I love it), that is ap­plied so vig­or­ously it al­most feels like a pun­ish­ment. But there is also a thick layer of cool­ing mask and I swear I can feel mois­ture be­ing sucked into my skin.

I emerge back onto the dock­side in a plumped-up daze, not quite ready to re­turn to re­al­ity.

Prices for one night from £111. Go to sun­born­ho­tels.com for de­tails and book­ings

Noise is­sues aside, the lo­ca­tion pro­vides stun­ning views across Royal Vic­to­ria Dock from our water­side bal­cony Laura En­field

Above, the ship’s restau­rant Sun­born Lon­don is per­ma­nently moored at Royal Docks and has no en­gines so can­not move un­der its own steam

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