We returned to London to see friends and family... and to enjoy a night of luxury staying at the Sea Containers London hotel. One day, hopefully not too far in the future, I will go back to London to do all the other things I miss - wandering the city's streets aimlessly, hanging out in Hyde Park, enjoying food from all around the world (including some great traditional British food) and finding out more about the people who make it, and not least taking a thousand photos of this beautiful, unique, chaotic and oh so alive city.
Speaking of which, check out this post for the best photo spots in London, or this post on romantic things to do in London if you're not weighed down by kids. But for now, we miss people more so we go to London to see people... and enjoy a little luxury in the Sea Containers London which I will now review.
Wanted: A stylish London hotel that is family-friendly
Staying in a luxury and stylish hotel in central London is pretty much the ultimate treat for me. After living in the city for the best part of six years, and growing up on its outskirts, I have never really had the need to know about decent hotels in London that offer good design, a good location and value for money, but our recent travels back to the UK saw us needing to find somewhere that satisfied these requirements.
As is the case with most of our visits to the UK, our week back "home" was jam-packed with seeing friends and family. In fact, the weekend featured a visit up to Shrewsbury for my grandmother's 90th birthday so we were especially busy and especially short on time to then see everyone we wanted to back in London before their week day jobs reclaimed them. The solution was picking a pub, reserving a large table in it and asking all of our London-based friends to come and meet us there that Sunday, which we did and they did.
But after trekking half way up the country and back again, the thought of then getting on another train after a cosy afternoon in a London pub to return to my parents house out in the "burbs" didn't fill me with glee. It also didn't seem fair that we would leave London without spending any decent time there. So I started looking at hotels near the pub we'd chosen and much to my delight the nearest was the new Sea Containers London on Southbank A few clicks of the mouse later and our room was booked.
My review of Mondrian London Hotel
Of course, I've stayed in London hotels before, but I've never stayed in a hotel on the Thames. As in, you could actually see the River Thames from our room. And St Pauls. And Blackfriars Bridge. And HMS President, now all covered in graffiti-esque artwork. I could have spent hours gazing out of our window but after four busy days of travel, a long afternoon of conversations with old friends, and a nearly four-month old baby stirring in my arms from his nap, the HUGE (yes, capital letters required) bed looked just as attractive. I placed Baby Bird in the middle of it, got out some of his toys and he, his dad and I all chilled out on that GIGANTIC bed for a few hours as we watched the lights of London come on from out of the window.
Not long after we'd checked in - admiring a vast space decorated as if it was a modern art installation - and made our way up to our room, housekeeping arrived to put up Baby Bird's cot. They also delivered a wash bag full of baby essentials. I'm not joking when I say it was better packed than the nappy bag I normally have on hand. It was an unexpected bonus and kindness; I do rather like it when hotels surprise you with things like that. I managed a quick scan of the hotel room - noting the biggest mini bar selection of drinks I'd ever seen! - as I sat next to our boy and watched him play, while my partner NewMan reported from the bathroom that the shower was the big enough for a family of six to wash in.
No doubt because of all of the travelling and new faces, Baby Bird was quick to fall asleep in his cot under a cosy white duvet of his own, so NewMan and I took advantage of the dimmed lights and MAHOOOSIVE bed to.... fall asleep ourselves. Although the room was very spacious and we could easily have watched TV with Baby Bird a short distance away, we were both so exhausting and the COUNTRY-SIZED bed were so comfortable it was too much like hard work to keep our eyes open after we'd each had long, hot showers and slipped on the towelling robes hanging in the wardrobe.
And sleep well we did. Well, until Baby Bird woke three, then two, then one hours later...
A chance to watch the sun come up over London
After deciding he'd rather stay awake from 5 to 6 am Baby Bird was kind enough to sleep in until nearly 8 o'clock and the result of this was that we woke just as magic hour was falling on London. I grabbed the baby and NewMan grabbed the camera and we sleepily watched the other side of London glow in the beautiful morning light. Knowing London well, we knew that November is often a cold, grey and wet month so being treated to such beautiful rising sunshine under pastel blue and purple skies was something very special.
We took our time to get ready, taking it in turns to entertain Baby Bird while the other showered and dressed. The Mondrian London has a generous check-out time of midday and we took full advantage wondering down to breakfast at around 9:30 and then not heading back up to the room until just before 11. Held in the ground floor restaurant lined with glass so you can watch commuters march along Southbank to work, breakfast was also excellent and featured everything you would expect from a upmarket city hotel. There was plenty of space too so we were able to find a corner away from other diners just in case Baby Bird decided to make some noise; in fact, they found us a corner table where he could lie down on the bench next to us and play with his toys. (We won't have that luxury every time we stay in a hotel once BB starts eating solids and becomes more mobile!).
Just before we checked out we had a nosey around the ground floor space which we'd sleepily only glanced at the night before. In addition to admiring the sculptures and maritime themed features a little closer, we also found signs to the cinema housed within the hotel and we hung out for a while in the Den, a small "chill out" lounge style space that was being used for a few informal meetings by other guests. With all this contemporary art and design on show, the hotel is a perfect place to stay to get you in the mood for a visit to the Tate Modern which is less than a ten minute walk away.
While the standard of comfort, luxury, style and service were all incredibly high at the Mondrian London, the best part of our stay was realising that we can enjoy stylish, designer hotels with a baby. Indeed, Mondrian London made us feel very welcome and felt very family-friendly even though other guests were clearly business-focused or sans children. That's not always an easy thing for hotels to do, especially when their focus is so much on delivering a luxurious, relaxing and memorable experience. So, hats off to you Mondrian London! You have convinced this new mother and lover of stylish hotels that there's still a place for me - i.e. and one of the best and most ENORMOUS beds I've ever slept in - in fantastic hotels like yours.
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Frances M. Thompson
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