Gina Baksa enjoys an overnight stay and afternoon tea at the luxurious Sunborn London superyacht hotel, moored next to ExCel in London’s Docklands.
During visits to the ExCel London conference centre, I’d often admired the gleaming white Sunborn London superyacht moored below on Royal Victoria Dock. This splendid yacht hotel first arrived in Docklands in 2014 and has become a highly popular business and leisure venue offering 136 spacious bedrooms and suites across its five generous decks.
The O2 and the City are both a short cab ride away, while the DLR Custom House station is just a five-minute walk away – a perfect location to capture both the leisure and business markets.
It was a sunny-blue-sky day, but wintry cold, when I arrived at Sunborn London yacht hotel. I was glad of the warmth in the reception area from the point of the view of the heating, and the genuinely friendly welcome from Victoria and the team on the front desk.
My executive suite cabin was on the fourth floor, reached via a spectacular circular staircase with an enormous gold chandelier at the centre. Somehow the effect managed to look refined and elegant rather than 80s disco ball. And I loved the mirrored ceiling that reflected the light and gold around the stairwell. It was a very glamorous beginning to my overnight stay, and other guests thought so too as they posed for selfies on the staircase.
The new dark blue carpet and teak accents, alongside the high-ceilinged corridors with white and gold doors, made me feel we were about to set sail for the French Rivier. Alas, the Sunborn London doesn’t have an engine (it was pulled into Royal Victoria Dock by two tugs), and its erstwhile engine room is now the staff canteen, while the bridge is home to the offices. But I could always dream…
Sunborn London Cabins & Suites
The Sunborn has a total of 136 rooms, which include two junior suites and two executive suites. The latter is at the front of the yacht and face forward, offering dockside or riverside views. At a very generous 45 square metres, these executive suites are divided into a bedroom, bathroom, lounge and work area. Best of all is the Jacuzzi bath which healed my sore muscles after a stint in the fabulous private sauna. What a suite!
Full-length French windows opened out on to a spectacular decking area with sun loungers, and needless to say, it was too chilly to linger too long. However, in the summer, this suite would be an incredible entertaining space. Guests will also find their complimentary mini-bar refilled daily, while an early check-in and late check-out are available.
My gorgeous king-sized bed was heavenly (thank you blackout curtains), and I especially appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities, plus the iron and ironing board. And the Wi-Fi I’m happy to report was fast and responsive throughout the yacht. The carpeted executive rooms also looked inviting, thanks to the king-sized beds and all the other amenities alongside a walk-in shower. There were iPads in every room too, each with two USB ports and information on the yacht, dining and the spa, plus Google Maps listing London attractions and shopping.
Sunborn London Restaurant and Bar
Arriving at lunchtime, I decided to snack at the Sundown Bar since I had a dinner reservation at the Land’s End that evening. The service was welcoming and friendly – and I ordered a smooth glass of Laurent-Perrier before enjoying my falafel and fries.
The bar is bustling at night, though thankfully it was peaceful when I arrived. I took advantage of the calm, and simply stared out at the river, and the City and O2.
I took a window seat in the Land’s End restaurant – handily on the fourth deck and just a few minutes from my cabin. The seating is well laid out, so everyone gets a window view and space to hear each other chat. Executive Head Chef Paul Hegley is at the helm here and curates a tasty British menu using mainly seasonal produce. Fish is sourced from the UK, and all the meat is said to be from a rare breed, coming from independent farms. There are gluten-free options and well as veggie meals to cater for all palates.
I chose the smoked butternut squash velouté with pecorino and hazelnut to start. It was a perfect precursor to my delicious and very festive Ballotine of Norfolk bronze turkey, chestnut and cranberry stuffing, smoked pancetta, seasonal vegetables, roasted Parisienne potatoes and pigs in blankets. Turkey can often be dry, but mine was delicious, and the vegetables perfectly cooked. Alas, I had to forgo the tempting Sticky toffee pudding with spiced rum with vanilla ice cream, but it looked amazing.
Other mains options included duck, steak and fish, as well as two vegetarian choices of mushroom risotto, and goats curd with pumpkin. There’s also a superb wine list, and my Malbec Bodegas Santa Ana was full-bodied, and my friend loved his Via Nova Pinot Grigio. If you don’t feel like company for supper, you can choose in-room dining, which is available 24 hours a day.