Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review


United Kingdom

A Cocteau-like dreamworld with quirky furniture, an atmospheric courtyard and a world-class restaurant

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50 Berners Street W1, in the heart of the West End

Travel Information

London City airport - 30 mins
London Heathrow - 40 mins
London Gatwick - 1 hour 20
Nearest Tube - Goodge Street, Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Rd

Top Tips

Enjoy the mad Hatters afternoon tea in the courtyard, for a quirky experience

5-Star X-Factors

Philippe Starck's kooky designs

Take me to the Sanderson

If you have yet to visit the Sanderson Hotel, a skip from Oxford Street and a hop into Soho and London's Theatre-land, you could be forgiven for driving past, assuming it was yet another late 50s institutional office block. You would be wrong, of course. Turn back around and prepare yourself for the epitome of luxury in the heart of the West End.

Entering the Sanderson impels a surreal feeling of futuristic throwback, regardless of your age: Austin Powers meets Woody Allen in Sleeper, while Caroll's Alice sips on a divine cocktail called 'Envy' in a flourishing, exquisitely landscaped Secret Garden. It's funky, foxy, futuristic and fabulous. The positive vibe is uplifting and I found the seduction of the senses a welcome distraction from the steaming metropolis in which it is bedded.

I arrived shortly after mid-afternoon when that slightly lethargic hour kicks in. I was whisked to my seriously cool wall-less room and then along the corridor for a couple of hours in paradise.

Paradise found

Agua, the in-house spa, is referred to as an 'urban sanctuary' but I like to call it 'heaven'. It is swathed in metres of soaring white rippling valleys of veil that gently billow as cream-clad therapists breeze between relaxation and treatment rooms.

At the spa's core is a large silver urn, magically flowing a gentle stream of water from its misty interior. Bowls of large green apples sit alongside large white modern chaises with jugs of lemon water to be sipped gently while you unwind after your celestial indulgence.

I went for the signature Agua Milk and Honey massage: a subliminal hour of giving your body over to lashings of essential oils, milky creams, scrubs, sesame oil, honey, and finally, a saucepan of very warm rose oil. It worked wonders on me and even the dreaded knot beneath my right scapula seemed to disperse into the body along with several other smaller ones. However, I am sure I will get a roasting from my husband when he notices this month's quirky spend on milk and honey.

Back to bliss

After Agua's magic it was back to the sleep-chamber: it's cool and light, in palette and feel, inducing a dream-like quality along with a desire to be a little hedonistic. Not many would try this at home; no walls, instead, glass dividers with an electric pink plastic curtain for extra privacy, a large ceramic oval free standing bath and wonderful modern silver-leafed sleigh bed with a post modernist oil of a naive Victorian rural scene overhead, pillowed lavishly at either end (I suppose if you weren't getting on) and, necessary slatted blinds to continue the feeling of being transported to another cosmic centre. The mini bar was fabulously stocked and the Agua products in the minimalist bathroom were blissfully bountiful. Wait for Christmas, kids.

Hedonism did kick in and I couldn't wait to have a cocktail at the Long Bar that was heaving by now with beautiful people. There is only one thing at 6pm that could distract me from this calling: a fabulous boutique. I ended up only buying a perfume Ensoleille Moi par André Gas one I thought was unique to St Tropez, which transported me yet again. The Sanderson Shop is worth dropping many things for, especially your consumer conscience.

I went to place my purchase in my room and stood at the lift door running my hand up and down its glass side for the button. When the door opened a smiling barman asked me if I would like a drink. It wasn't the lift, but the door to the Purple Bar, a dark den of purple velvet with a sort of Aladdin's cave of enticing iniquity. What an idiot I must have looked one-way mirrored glass.

Eventually, as Alice would have done, I chose a comfortable spot in the blossoming hydrangea-laden, sparkling, and thoroughly refreshing inner garden courtyard for my cocktail, 'Envy': fresh lychee squished into a flute base, topped with exotic vodka and completed with Champagne. The Long Bar and Courtyard Garden were buzzing for a Monday night, and I assume by Wednesday you would be lucky to get a seat anywhere. The Sanderson is right in the middle of media-land, continuing to pull in the trendy, along with very satisfied outsiders, like myself.

Starry nights

My husband found me half way through my 'Envy' and we moved across the courtyard for our Malaysian feast at the zestful new arrival, Suka. Created by Zak Pelaccio, a celebrated chef from New York, Suka offers a challenging, exciting and esoteric mix of ingredients and ideas from Southeast Asia under the guiding culinary genius of France.

Spoilt for choice, we were led by the knowledgeable hand of the affable maitre d': sweet delicate scallops marinated in chilli oil, tiger prawns grilled to firm perfection on a bed of warm lentils with sweet red onions and a pea aubergine, followed by diced meltingly-succulent soft sugar and chilli glazed suckling pig with homemade pitta, aside tranches of shredded leak and cucumber arranged around a gooey molasses-based dip. It was extremely tasty and innovative. A genuine find in a fantastical garden oasis.

The Sanderson is a very bright, Phillipe Starke-inspired, star within the Morgans Group's private galaxy, and shines with an indisputable magnetism that has long outlived a gimmick or fad. In fact, like many wonders in the galaxy, its appeal appears to be timeless.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer