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