Standing in front of the Sanderson and looking up at its austere 60s frontage, you’d be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t perhaps the most beautiful place you’ve ever clapped eyes on. However, push inside past the former textile factory’s façade (listed no less) and the aesthetic changes dramatically.
The first UK roll-out of the Philippe Starck and Ian Schrager design partnership, the Sanderson was unveiled to universal acclaim as the ‘coolest hotel in London’ all the way back in 2000. A decade is an awfully long time in design hotel terms. But it’s still as compellingly weird and wonderful as it ever was, and there’s a real sense of fun and whimsy evident, too, as straight lines and clean, industrial materials mix with oversize furniture pieces and plenty of colourful and off-kilter flourishes.
Upstairs the stark, white rooms have more than a touch of the 2001: A Space Odyssey about them (a space age-y theme that’s developed on your way up by a cosmological lift dotted with glittering stars). But while the spaces are minimalist and airy, they’re by no means featureless or bare: silver sleigh beds are artfully slanted while there are plenty of floating white curtains and pinks and greens pulsing in the bathrooms to disrupt any semblance of regularity.
Downstairs there’s a variety of different public areas in which to mingle with the beautiful people. First of all, there's the guests-only Purple Bar – which is designed to feel like a jewellery box, has a sultry, clandestine feel to it and delivers some great martinis – then there's the Long Bar, which is open to non-guests (as is the plant-filled, Zen-styled courtyard), and aside from the prices, is one of the best spots for a cocktail in the area. Finally, there's the restaurant Suka, which specialises in well-crafted tapas-style Malaysian street food.
Is the Sanderson still the coolest hotel in London – more than a decade after it first opened? Probably not. But to its credit, it’s still giving other much newer hotels a damn good run for their money.
- The fabulous design experience
- The courtyard: one of London’s most secluded and exclusive spots for a drink
- The cosmologically-inspired lifts
- The roof garden
- The gym – large for a London hotel
- Clanking air-conditioning in the rooms
- The eye-gougingly expensive drinks in the Long Bar
- The lack of a pool to lounge by on hot afternoons
Need to Know: Sanderson
Number of rooms: 150
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 12noon
Room service: Yes
Swimming pool: No
Spa: Yes. The 10,000 square-foot Agua Spa offers a range of treatments (both ancient and modern) in its 14 treatment rooms
Dogs welcome: No
Eating and drinking: Yes. You can start your evening with an intimate drink in the Purple Bar (guests-only), then head through for cocktails and people-watching in the Long Bar (open to non-guests) before moving through to restaurant Suka for Malaysian small plates.
Near to? Some serious shopping: Bond Street, Regent Street and Marylebone High Street are all within comfortable bag-carrying distance, while it’s surrounded by the nightlife of Fitzrovia, Soho and the rest of the West End.
Getting there: Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road Tube stations are both within five minutes of the hotel; King’s Cross and Victoria train stations, and fast access to/from Gatwick/Stansted Airports, are both around a 10-minute taxi journey.