Josephine Price checks into a river-view suite for a dose of capital chill after a hen do
The stretch of the Southbank between the Oxo Tower and the Tate Modern used to be somewhat of a no man’s land; a functional riverside path to get from one attraction to the next. The Mondrian’s arrival at the former Sea Containers building changed all this. As I sit in the glass-fronted Dandelyan bar on the ground floor, passers-by peer in and a steady stream of them peel off to come in for a drink. It’s worth stopping by. Tom Dixon has cast his alluring spell over the place. It’s a wash of copper, velvet and jewel tones with splashes of millennial pink. There’s a Curzon cinema for those wishing to curl up and stay within the hotel but for those wanting to explore, the Tate Modern, The Globe, St Paul’s Cathedral and the IMAX are all on your doorstep.
The Agua Bathhouse in the basement feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle upstairs. It’s white and sleek. Waffle gowns and slippers wait in the changing rooms and I flip-flop into the lounge to wait for my therapist. This too has had the Tom Dixon treatment. A copper teardrop installation in the middle of the room looks like it was created especially for Instagram. I’m swept away for my treatment but they deposit you back here afterwards — their relaxation tactics keep me captive for far too long. The armchair swallows me up, the lighting is soft, and the magazines are excellent. There’s even a spa menu with contrasting options: healthy crudites or vintage ice cream sundaes. The best part? They wrap you up in a duvet and pull a curtain around you so you can relax in peace. Duvets don’t feature nearly enough in daytime plans in adult life — I’m thrilled.
I’m here for the Head in Heaven treatment. It promises relaxation as it targets my back, face and head. My therapist concentrates on the lymphatic system by mimicking its natural rhythms. She zigzags her fingers across my cheeks as she douses my face with oil and begins the massage. A cleanser, an almost-too-vigorous scrub and then a mask follow the oil. I’m covered in oil once more for a final massage, which drains away signs of tequila from the weekend’s hen do (my colleagues will be none the wiser tomorrow). I am given a last cleanse before a light toner is pattered across my face. There are no sweeping strokes in this back massage, this is exact and refined, and I melt out of the room, very content. I smell fantastic thanks to Silesia Organics, too. These all-natural products, made in Cornwall, align with the spa’s mission to welcome cancer survivors. A rare feat in the spa world.
Eat and drink
You can embark on a gastronomic escapade without leaving the hotel. I try a fragrant Flower of Five (Belvedere Pink Grapefruit, passion fruit flower, leather, lemon and Bræmble Gin Liqueur) in the riverfront Dandylyan bar. The decadent sky-high Rumpus Room is closed on Mondays, though previous visits have assured me it’s one of London’s more vibrant rooftop venues. The Sea Containers restaurant blends American and British cuisine, but I opt for a continental breakfast to be delivered to my room in a reluctance to leave the suite. A generous pot of coconut granola, Greek yoghurt and raspberry jam make up for the average toast.
“You’ve got a good room,” the concierge smiles knowingly. I knew it had a river view (not all the rooms here do — I hear one customer complaining next to me) but I didn’t know it was a suite. A balcony stretches the entire width of the room and I’ve got river views from both the bed and the living area. There’s a standalone bath in a bathroom that’s bigger than my bedroom at home. I’m lured in by the cut glass in the minibar and the coffee table books by the sofa. It feels like a lovely flat. I could live here.
City breakers, couples or anyone who’s looking for a night of fun in the capital.
I arrive as an exhausted hen and leave feeling zen. Ten out of ten.
Rooms start at £234 per night and the Head in Heaven treatment (80 minutes) starts at £125.
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