The Sunborn London Yacht Hotel lounges alongside the industrial architecture of the Royal Victoria Dock, as though a sleek and seductive alien being has slid onto a sofa with a Victorian chimney sweep on either side. Dazzling white, the yacht immediately catches the eye, even on a grey day – of which there are plenty in London – but we were fortunate enough to be able to see her glimmering in the late afternoon sunlight. Easily accessible via all London’s usual transport lines, the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel offers a unique luxury cruise experience, crossed with the convenience of a hotel within easy reach of central London’s shops and entertainment, as well as having the ExCel Conference venue right next door.
Upon arrival, one takes a lift to the reception area. Even those with an aversion to life on the ocean wave will be perfectly comfortable as there is no discernible movement of the yacht with the tide. The glass and brass bedecked reception features a sweeping double staircase for those glamourous entrances from above, as well as a number of people providing check in and concierge services so that, even with Covid restrictions in place, one felt in expert hands at all times. Even with just a glance at the décor, one can be sure that one is on a yacht. The ceilings are ‘planks’ of brass and polished wood abounds on the walls of public areas.
This décor continues in the rooms, which are surprisingly spacious, with plenty of cupboard space tucked behind more bright wood and all the features one would expect in a luxury hotel. These include a king-size bed, Lavazza coffee machine, complimentary high-speed wi-fi and luxurious Prija toiletries in the bathroom, which, I might add, doesn’t feel much like a bathroom on a yacht at all, except for being a little small. You can book a room without a balcony, but why would you? The executive room we stayed in had a lovely little outside space, complete with two chairs to watch the sun sink towards the London skyline and to enjoy the fresh breeze across the river.
Unfortunately, during the Covid restrictions, the restaurant at the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, the Land’s End, was closed, but we were instead invited to dine at the Sundown bar with, true to its name, provided a perfect outer deck to observe the sunset and crack open a lovely bottle of bubbles. As the night closed in, we moved inside to a perfect window seat with a view of central London’s glittering lights. Hungry girls that we are, we ordered three starters to share, washing these down with some expertly made cocktails. The food is well put together, but not excessively refined. Our highlight of the starters was the goats’ cheese and chive croquettes, crunchy on the outside and creamy within, served with a tangy tomato sauce to cut through the cheese and a rocket salad. The Korean-style chicken wings were deliciously messy, with a robust combination of spices and sweetness, while the beetroot cured smoked salmon was very good quality and came with a lime and horseradish sauce that provided a hint of a kick.
The main courses were reassuringly substantial and hearty, perfect as the evening grew colder. I enjoyed a very juicy chicken breast with potato puree as smooth as silk, tenderstem broccoli and a rich tarragon sauce. It didn’t exactly seem like typical yacht cuisine, but my yacht experience is somewhat limited and certainly the dish was delicious. My dining companion had a pan-seared salmon fillet, served with crushed new potatoes, zingy gremolata green beans and a very good beurre blanc. We rounded off the meal with a warm chocolate and peanut butter brownie – to share, as we finally admitted defeat – and retired to our cabins.
The bed was warm and the cabin was delightfully snug; the yacht aspect of the stay seemed secondary to the comfort. When we rose, it was much more apparent, however, as we could stand on the balcony and see the city coming to life. After an efficient breakfast, we took our final few deep breaths of the fresh dockside air as we stepped back onto dry land, feeling that the experience aboard the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel had been the perfect antidote to the crowded London streets into which we once again made our way.
Sunborn London Yacht Hotel
Royal Victoria Dock
London, E16 1AA