British quirk and Americana excess meet aboard a glamorous Art Deco cruise liner for an imaginary journey down the Thames.
The very first hotel I stayed at as a working adult was the Hudson Hotel in New York. This was about ten years ago when I was working for Louis Vuitton and I will never forget it. I was in such awe at how cool and stylish it was! For a while, the Hudson was THE place to be in NYC – super exclusive parties were thrown there and it ended up being featured in episode of Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. When I found out that the Morgans Hotel Group (the company that operates the Hudson) had recently inaugurated their third property in London, I had to give it a try.
Just like its sisters in LA and Miami, the Mondrian London is every bit of cool you would expect a Morgans property to be. The building – created by the same architect who designed the iconic Windows of the World restaurant at the World Trade Center – was originally meant to become a hotel when it was erected back in the 1970’s but ended up as the corporate headquarters of the Sea Containers shipping company thanks to the economic crisis at the time.
British designer Tom Dixon – the brains behind the Mondrian’s concept – took inspiration for the hotel’s naval theme from the building’s time as shipping industry headquarters. He conceived the Mondrian as a celebration of the brotherly love that unites America and the U.K. aboard a 1920’s transatlantic cruise liner making the journey between both worlds, picking up bits from each side and spinning them into a blend of Americana excess, British quirk and Art Deco glam.
About the Mondrian
The Mondrian is definitely a party hotel and common areas are where it truly shines. In an effort to attract the local young and hip and keep guests socializing outside, instead of locked up in their rooms, design of the bars, the restaurant and other common areas was made a priority while a lighter hand was used for the bedrooms.
The Mondrian’s two bars – The Rumpus Room and The Dandelyan – have a very clubby look and the Art Deco touch gives them a vibe that very much resembles a glammed up classic South Beach nightclub. At the Rumpus Room, a brass bar overlooks a glass-enclosed rooftop room with views of the Thames and filled with curved leather booths and velvet chairs in various shades of purple. The palette at the Dandelyan is a perfectly executed risqué combination of gleaming gold tables and handrails, green walls and a green marble bar, lime green and grey velvet chairs and a modular pink leather sofa encircling a very fun looking corner of the bar.
Our River View Deluxe room had a subtle cruise liner cabin theme and featured none of the outlandish design antics found on common areas. The palette was a sober combination of white, greys and black warmed up by a few splashes of hot pink, deep purple and brass. Everything – from the Tom Dixon custom-made furniture to the (also Tom Dixon) art on the walls – felt perfectly curated and was exactly what I would expect from a Morgans hotel.
The all-white bathroom was very spacious and the marble floors and shower provided just enough contrast to keep it from looking too sterile. They even had my favorite hotel toiletry brand, Malin + Goetz! The views from the room were not panoramic, but purposely planned to resemble the perspective you would get if you were looking at the city from the inside of a ship.
Cocktails at the Dandelyan
Mr. Lyan – one of London’s most renowned mixologists – devised The Dandelyan as a journey through the kingdom of plants. The bar’s menu changes periodically but the “Modern Botany” theme always remains, so expect your drinks to always involve a heavy dose of plant ingredients.
The menu on rotation when we visited set the tone, with a thesis on how plants and our quest for harnessing their powers and properties have shaped our history and our civilizations. The beautifully illustrated menu was divided into sections named Hunter, Gatherer, Shaman and Explorer inspired in the various ways in which humans have collected and used plants throughout time.
The unique décor and its experimental concept earned The Dandelyan an award for “Best New International Cocktail Bar” in 2015 and give way for a very trendy atmosphere that attracts plenty of young professionals and creative types. As you can imagine, this means that it gets crowded so reservations are definitely a must!
Dining at Sea Containers
After a few cocktails at Dandelyan, we were pretty hungry and quite eager to head to the hotel’s Sea Containers restaurant. Sea Containers is perhaps where the Mondrian’s intended Anglo-American fusion is best felt. The menu features options from modern British and American cuisine prepared with local and seasonal British ingredients.
The dining area – inspired on a classic American diner – has curved bright yellow leather booths with burgundy leather chairs and features the characteristic streaming lines of American diners from the 1930’s and 40’s. As a friendly reminder that you are still on the other side of the pond, a cute yellow submarine hangs over the stainless steel bar at the center of the restaurant.
The menu at Sea Containers is composed of big plates for sharing like double cut pork chop with grilled apples and roasted chicken with green chili alternated with a small-plate section with options such a brim, brill and prawn ceviche and venison Carpaccio. Since we wanted to try as many things as possible, we opted for ordering a bunch of the smaller plates that our waiter organized into a personalized three-course tasting menu.
Our spread ended up including: ceviche, oven-roasted lamb meatballs in sheep’s milk cheese, beetroot salad with a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette, burrata on roasted squash flatbread with rocket, sage pumpkin seeds and a chili clay oven root vegetable nilgiri korma with brown rice and puy lentils. A beautiful breakfast with plenty of fruit, cold cuts, cheese and à la carte options is also served at Sea Containers. Their avocado toast on charred bread with coriander, tomatoes and a soft-boiled egg was my favorite!
What to do Around the Area
The Mondrian is located between the National Theater and the Tate Modern in London’s South Bank district. The South Bank is an arts and entertainment district in the city center on the side of the Thames opposite to the districts of Westminster, Temple and London. It’s one of the city’s most lively spots filled with shops, restaurants, museums, theaters and galleries. Many of the London’s must-see attractions – the London Eye, the Tate Modern, Borough Market and the Shakespeare Globe – are all in South Bank and the views of the city’s skyline are – as you can imagine – simply incredible.
For more information about the Mondrian, London, visit their website: