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Mondrian London: part liner, part hotel by Maggie O’Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Many years ago I worked in a tower block on London’s South Bank. Between my building and the river stood the Oxo Tower and Sea Containers House – the former was derelect, while the latter was the headquarters of a shipping company. How times have changed. Now the Oxo Tower houses a fashionable restaurant and a number of design shops, while Sea Containers House has recently been transformed into a five-star hotel called Mondrian London.

Mondrian London is owned by the American Morgans Hotel Group. There’s already a Mondrian in Los Angeles and South Miami Beach, but this is the company’s first UK version and its owners wanted to emphasise both the building’s maritime history and the hotel’s strong US connection. What British designer Tom Dixon came up with does that all right: the Mondrian is part 1920s liner, part contemporary hotel, which, from certain aspects, feels as if it’s actually afloat on the Thames.The nautical theme is at its most dramatic on the ground floor: the side of a vast copper ‘hull’ sweeps from the reception area round to the river-facing restaurant (called, rather unglamorously, Sea Containers). Concealed behind the hull is hotel’s engine room – aka the kitchen – and dotted about are various marine-related objets, including a model of RMS Queen Mary in reception and a diver's helmet in the lounge.I had breakfast in Sea Containers, a light and airy space dominated by a stainless steel bar, with floor-to-ceiling windows giving panoramic views of the river: opposite is Tobias Rehberger’s extraordinary dazzle ship and, slightly to the right, St Paul’s Cathedral. It wasn’t warm enough to sit outside but in clement weather the terrace would be a delightful spot.The Mondrian has 359 light and stylish rooms. The best have river views (and if you’re staying here, you really do want to overlook the river) and small balconies, though all have that post 1980s’ modernist feel that’s so current and Tom Dixon’s signature paint splodge on the wall.If you’re looking for that ‘wow’ factor, head up to the Rumpus Room, a bar and terrace on the top floor of the hotel. The Rumpus Room takes its design inspiration from the Roaring Twenties and specialises in the Bright Young Thing's tipple of choice: champagne – by the glass, by the bottle or in a cocktail.If, on the other hand, you fancy something a little more soothing, slip down to the subterranean Agua Bathhouse and Spa. This is what they call a ‘curated spa’, offering a diverse range of treatments – some by brands you won’t have heard of – the better to find one that suits you perfectly. There are six treatment rooms and the pleasingly contemporary spa is open to both guests and non-residents.Whether Mondrian London floats your boat or not depends on whether you like your hotels to be bright and breezy or more intimate and cosy. If the latter, it might not be the place for you – though you’ll certainly love its location. When I worked in that tower block all those years ago, I could not have imagined wanting to spend the night in this part of London. Now, I‘d very much like to.

Further information, Mondrian London 

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