â€œ A lavish "Urban Spa" in the heart of LondonÂ’s West End, Sanderson offers a retreat from the bustle of the city into a world of fantasy and wellbeing. The landmarked 50s building has been transformed by Philippe Starck into a surreal Cocteau-like dreamworld with a lushly landscaped interior courtyard garden, world-class gourmet restaurant by Alain Ducasse, and the extensive facilities of the renowned Agua Bathhouse. Sanderson epitomizes a Â“new luxuryÂ” that is smart, pared down, and tempered with a healthy dose of wit and irony Â– in short, a hotel with modern sex appeal. â€ž
I will try to write this review as objectively as possible but if my acid wit gets in the way, I apologise in advance. I was very much looking forward to staying a night in the Sanderson Hotel last July but it did not live up to my expectations.
The 5 star Sanderson describes itself as an "Urban Spa" in the heart of London. Just off Oxford Street it claims to serve as a retreat from the bustle of the city.
From the outside it looks like a dreary 1950s office block with plenty pebble dash thrown in for good measure. The only hint that this is a hotel are the dwarf fir trees by the entrance and two very smartly dressed Eastern European doormen. The doormen were incredibly polite and greeted us with a smile, despite the fact that they looked like they'd be more at home jumping in to break up a fight than opening the door to your taxi.
The drabness of the building is left at the front door as you step through into the hotel lobby. Built in 1958 for the Sanderson fabric company, this became a Grade II listed building in 1991. The architects endeavoured to maintain many of the original features and the result was a transformation into one of London's most contemporary and cool hotels.
When you walk into the lobby, you'll feel like you're entered onto a stage worthy of Moulin Rouge. Pieces of 20th century furniture lie scattered around the lobby area - taking on the form of interactive sculptures rather than functional chairs, sofas and tables. While my husband checked us in, in defiance of art I sat on a perspex half-bowl chair which hung from the ceiling, not quite sure whether it would break or not. Thankfully it did not.
Whilst swinging on the chair I looked in front of me to see Salvador Dali's 'Bocca' lips sofa takes pride of place. Unfortunately the first thing that hit my senses was not the how beautiful the sofa was but the overwhelming racket coming from the Long Bar (one of 2 bars in the hotel) also on the ground level. Lounge music was fighting for space with the vocal egos of over 150 people (the bar isopen to public).
Sanderson epitomises a modern luxury for London's smart set. The designers, i'm informed, had built this place with a healthy dash of wit and irony but I unfortunately think it has back-fired on them .
My first impressions as I sat waiting for my husband were these. This is a hotel for the beautiful people - the under 30s, under 1000 calories a-day-people, media types who want to be seen and want to mingle with those who also want to be seen. As I continued to swing on the chair, guests walked passed from the Long Bar onroute to the rest rooms, dripping in Gucci, Versace and Louis Vitton, all with a certain gait. Heads held high and confident strides as if the knew they belonged here. There was no comfort or warmth to be found here and feeling awkward in my jeans I signalled to my husband to hurry up.
We were given a superior room on the 4th floor at a special rate of Â£200 (not including breakfast). Normally prices start at about Â£300 and go up to Â£3000 but the terrorist attacks two weeks before had hit the tourist industry hard and even the Sanderson was feeling the pinch. We received the Â£200 offer from the Sanderson via email last week and decided to take it up as a treat.
We entered the lift to go up to our room, which I did enjoy. The walls, floor and ceiling were covered in a 3d holographic print of the universe. The door itself was mirrored so when it closed, you felt like you were floating in space. Seriously, it was fab!
The corridor on the fourth floor was lit only by a few floor lights. The walls and carpets were a mushroom colour and all doors were painted white. To find your room you had to follow the floor lights - each light having a room number etched onto its glass.
On finding our room we inserted a key into the door. Waited for the red light to turn green then turned the silver handle.
The room was very stark to say the least. The majority of the room was taken up by a gigantic silver sleigh-style bed which sat in the middle of the room. (The floor and carpet were spotless by the way!). To either side of it were two silver tables. One with an ashtray and matches on it, the other with a small silver alarm clock.
Behind the bed was a white desk and white chair with a silver pashmina shawl drapped over it. On the desk was a telephone and a note saying if you wanted internet access it would cost Â£15. There was also a comprehensive information booklet bound in a silver folder which listed the hotels facilities - and a hefty price list to boot . For example - a bottle of water was listed at Â£3.50, a bottle of lager was Â£6.50 and a full English (not including coffee and tea) delivered to your room was Â£25 Â– bargain, not!
Along one wall of the room was a set of 6 white cupboards. One contained the air conditioning system, one contained a mini-bar, mini-shop and more price lists and the last cupboard contained a set of drawers. There was no hanging space in the room and although there was a hair-dryer, I had no idea if IÂ’d be charged for using it. You may laugh but I've not got to the bathroom yet! The room also included a full-length mirror, a 28" television with cable, a DVD/CD player and a set of silver dumb bells designed by Philip Starck.
The view? Well there wasn't one. There were 5 windows in the room all covered by white blinds. Behind them hid a view of the backs of other buildings and fire escapes.
So on to the bathroom. This is separated from the bedroom by a green glass wall (but no door). If you wish privacy then at the flick of a switch, a pink curtain is automatically drawn from the wall across the width of the glass. The bathroom itself white tiled from floor to ceiling and divided into three areas:- the dressing and wash area, the toilet and the shower (no bath). The toilet and shower are again separated by walls of thick green glass. Although both the toilet and shower areas had glass doors, neither had a working lock.
The wash area itself had a free standing sink (with no plug), a towel rail and a free standing rail from which hung an umbrella, two bathrobes and a laundry bag. Underneath the rail was a set of drawers containing aromatherapy products, slippers, an organic sponge, t-shirts and standard bathroom products like shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Again inside the drawer was another price list. From what we could work out from this list, the only thing that would not be charged for in the bathroom was the use of the water and a single bar of soap.
There were no coffee or tea facilities in the room so we ventured out for the evening into Soho to have a meal. On our return we headed passed the noisy Long Bar and into the Purple Bar which was open to hotel guests only. This was a very nice, relaxing 'purple' den and great place to have a night cap and wind down. After a couple of cocktails we headed straight up to the bedroom and sat on the bed and watched TV as there was very little else to do and no where else to sit in the room. It is not the sort of room you can spend any length of time in and in all honestly I'd have felt more comfortable in a hotel at quarter of the price.
I have read several reviews on this hotel and many praise it for its elegance, decor and celeb watching benefits. I've thought long and hard about the rating I have given it and standby it for the following reasons. If you are a couple in your 20s or a supermodel, footballer or film director looking to meet similar people then this is the place for you.
I am none of these and would not go back to this hotel even if it was a freebie. Despite the fact the bedroom was incredibly clean and fresh and the hotel staff were all very friendly and helpful ( I could not fault them at all), i find this place lacks soul. Everything is chargeable, room facilities are minimal and minamalist and I can't help but feel there is something very shallow about it all. It's about money, not well being. For Â£200 I felt we'd been robbed. I have stayed at far better hotels in the world for far less.
To be fair to the hotel - here's some objective information
High-Speed Internet Access (fee required)
King and Queen Size Beds
Down Comforters and Pillows
Silver and White Egyptian Cotton Sheets
Television with cable
DVD / CD player
Film DVDs and music CDs available to hire
- Standard room (with shower) is 325 sq. ft. - Â£300
- Superior room (with shower) is 384 sq. ft. - Â£330
- Deluxe room (with bath) 541 sq. ft. - Â£380
- Deluxe Studio (with bath and mini-gym) 541 sq. ft. - Â£470
- Loft and Penthouses available - poa
There are 150 rooms - all decorated in a similar style to the one we stayed in. Some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the street. None of the rooms have internal walls - all dividers are glass.
Spoon Restuarant, created by Alain Ducasse. The menu is more Mongolian bbq than anything else - you select the main ingredients, cooking style and sauces and the chefs make it for you.
The Long Bar- breakfast is served until 10am and then it turns into a bar serving alcohol, oysters and tapas all day (open to public).
The Purple Bar (open only to hotel guests) and an altogether quieter place than the Long Bar.
Aqua Spa, a two-story bath house which includes massage and spa services, a yoga studio and a gym.
24-Hour Room Service
24-Hour Concierge Services
Express Check Out
Afternoon Coffee and Tea Service
International News, Gift, and Magazine Shop
Sanderson Hotel London
50 Berners Street
Tel: 0207 3001400
Â© Jaggynettles / kollarosie on Ciao