The Sea Containers building, on the South Bank of the Thames next to Blackfriars Bridge, was always meant to be a luxury hotel, but what with one thing and another, it somehow took more than thirty years to come to fruition. The past’s loss, we suppose, is the present’s gain — the Morgans hotel group opened it as the Mondrian a few years back, and now it’s gone independent under the name Sea Containers London.
You’ll check in around the landlocked side, fittingly for a hotel that fancies itself an ocean liner, and there you’ll be treated to the first overture of Tom Dixon’s design performance, a curvaceous structure which creates the illusion that the reception desk is located just above the waterline of an arresting (if somewhat impractical) copper-clad cargo ship.
Once inside you’ll find the sights and textures a bit more familiar and welcoming, as velvet and leather replace hammered metal and an Art Deco undercurrent reinforces the hotel’s transatlantic aspirations. Space is plentiful in the rooms and suites, as is sunshine, a welcome departure from the cruise-ship theme, and one side of the hotel is treated to an extraordinary front-row view of the Thames.
Sea Containers now lends its name to the restaurant, a partnership between an American culinary director and an English executive chef, and two bars keep the hotel buzzing late into the night — the colorful Thames-facing Lyaness and the rooftop 12th Knot, a 1920s-style lounge with a decidedly 2020s view. Add to that a spa, a fitness center, and a private cinema (a must in today’s London) and you’ve got an impressive update to the city’s boutique-hotel heritage.