More than once during my recent stay at the Mondrian London in the city's South Bank district I had the sensation of being on a cruise ship. Just about the only thing missing was the rocking.
The illusion is deliberate. The property, whose official name is Mondrian London at Sea Containers, is situated in the Sea Containers building on the Thames River, a building that once served as offices for a marine container business.
From the minute you walk into the lobby, you are greeted with a massive copper wall at the front desk that looks like the hull of a ship. A giant, blue anchor sculpture, which children are free to climb on, dominates the center of the lobby, and model ships and other seafaring touches are sprinkled throughout the public areas.
The illusion is further carried out in the guestrooms, which offer direct views of the Thames or the London skyline.
Elevators at the Mondrian London are adorned with holographic, life-size images featuring unlikely pairs, such as a tattooed rock star with Queen Elizabeth I and an astronaut with an English rapper.
Although clearly designed for a high-end clientele, the 359-room property doesn't take itself too seriously. The elevators, for example, are adorned with holographic, life-size images featuring unlikely pairs, such as a tattooed rock star with Queen Elizabeth I and an astronaut with an English rapper. A bright yellow submarine hangs over the bar at the Sea Containers restaurant, where jeans-clad waiters serve three seasonal, locally sourced meals a day, including small plates and a kids' menu.
British designer Tom Dixon is responsible for many of the quirky touches throughout the property, including individually hand-painted works of art in each guestroom.
The hotel does take its cocktails seriously, however, with two bars that draw a healthy mix of hipster locals and hotel guests. Dandelyan, which overlooks the Thames, is the creation of barmeister Ryan Chetiyawardana, otherwise known as Mr. Lyan, whose inventive cocktail creations have earned him numerous awards and a level of notoriety in the city.
There also is a rooftop bar, the Rumpus Room, which offers more traditional cocktails, skyline views, live music and a 1920s Jazz Age vibe.
The Hollywood-meets-cruise atmosphere continues in the aqua Bathhouse & Spa, with its textured wall decor reminiscent of waves. The spa features mud therapies and a Turkish hammam.
The in-house, 56-seat Curzon Mondrian London shows first-run films and has its own drinks menu.
The hotel, which opened two years ago, is kid-friendly, and the concierge will work with families to suggest fun local activities and sites, such as Borough Market and the London Eye.
Mondrian London room rates start at about $240 a night plus VAT.