We Love London: Sanderson

Although FAULT has called London home since its inception, I, your friendly art director, had never made the long trek across the Pond until May. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting—lots of rain and mushy peas, perhaps?—but what I got was the experience of a lifetime.

I’ve never believed in love at first sight, but that all changed when I set foot onto the crowded pavement at Oxford Street. By the time my week-long adventure in the city was done, I had fallen head-over-heels in love.

In our Summer 2013 issue, I shared with you some of the places and people that made my trip so memorable. Still craving more? Then scroll down to read one of my many in-depth reviews (fabulous photos included).

Sanderson London
50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG

Adventures in Wonderland

Nestled comfortably between Mortimer and Oxford Streets, Sanderson’s sleek, minimalistic façade seems simultaneously unassuming and impressive. From my vantage point at the corner of Berners and Eastcastle Streets, Sanderson looks like every other hotel I’ve passed on my way from Heathrow to Central London. As I approach the front doors, I notice a towering flowerpot filled with delicate pink blooms that would make even the tallest passerby feel a mere 10 inches tall.

It isn’t until I am standing in front of the hotel that I catch my first glimpse of the fantastical world waiting inside: There, right in front of me, is a pair of lips. Not real lips, of course, but a couch made in the shape of a ruby-red pout à la Dalí. These lips seem to offer each visitor a kiss—of both welcome and departure, depending on whether one is coming or going.

Walking into the hotel itself is a lot like falling down the magical, mysterious rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The entirety of the ground floor is swathed in thin, gossamer curtains that give the space a hazy, dream-like glow. Looking over one’s shoulder, one might catch a glimpse of the outside world—a figure in a suit walking to work, a tourist snapping a photo of Oxford Street from afar—but the harsh lights and sounds of a busy London work day are distant and muffled.

To my left is the expansive “Indoor/Outdoor” Lobby that is filled with a mismatched menagerie of furnishings—from baroque, silver-leaf chairs with carved swans for arms to a modern, amorphous, lemon yellow settee. “Curiouser and curiouser”, I whisper quietly as I make my way over to an elegantly tufted—and extremely long—couch that lines the exterior wall. Upon sitting down, I catch myself looking around the room half expecting to find a small piece of cake with a card reading “EAT ME” neatly tucked under a porcelain plate.

I don’t have time to sit and stare in quiet amazement at my surroundings for long, because a friendly doorman in a sharply tailored suit is quick to collect my bags and direct me to the sign-in desk. Key in hand, I am led towards a set of lifts tucked discreetly into a far corner. Made entirely of exquisitely cut mirrored glass, the lifts look more like giant Swarovski crystal looking glasses than anything else. When the doors open, I enter into a Twilight Zone filled with pulsing constellations and galaxies. Instead of a jar of orange marmalade, I can reach out and touch the stars.

When the lift opens again, I head towards the lavender doors that will lead me to one of the 150 rooms available to guests of the hotel. All of the worries of my day—a long flight filled with screaming children, a frenzied dash to catch the proper train—seem to melt away as I walk down the dark corridor lit only by the light of the room numbers (which are etched onto frosted glass blocks that have been inlaid into the carpet and lit from below). The purple haze of the half-light brings to mind that place between dreams.

The rooms themselves are designed to mimic the appearance of a dream landscape. Instead of walls, one will find a mixture of glass, mirrors and—of course—those wispy white curtains that line the walls downstairs. The white and silver color palette of the main sleeping area complements the pale, wooden floors, and a faint green glow emanates from the bathroom, which can be seen dimly through the curtains behind the bed.

Like everything else in Sanderson, the rooms were dreamt up by renowned French designer Philippe Starck. Every tiny detail—from acid-etched mirrors to the placement of a landscape painting on the ceiling above every bed—has a meaning deeply rooted in the hotel’s ethos and further enhances the atmosphere of pleasure, relaxation and pure tranquility that permeates the property.

There are 11 room types available, from the Standard (which is “standard” in name alone) to the luxurious Penthouse (complete with a private lift and stunning views of London). Regardless of which accommodation one chooses, all guests have access to the hotel’s other amenities: namely, Agua at Sanderson. This 10,000 square foot spa spans two stories and—thanks to its rejuvenating treatments and ethereal décor—is the epitome of what every luxury spa should be: an oasis.

After a busy day of touring the city, come back and dine at Sanderson’s restaurant, Suka, which serves up a delightful menu of Malaysian dishes crafted with a European—and very British—sensibility courtesy of acclaimed chef Zak Pelaccio. If dinner isn’t an option, then head to Long Bar to grab a glass of wine or a smooth cocktail. But make sure to dress to impress, because—just like a catwalk—Long Bar is a place to see and be seen. Sitting at the edge of the bar, I feel like a model: all eyes—literally, in the case of the chairs, which boast white upholstered backs that feature an inset image of a woman’s eye—are on me, the star of the night’s performance.

For a more private experience, feel free to wander into the jewel-toned Purple Bar. The low, tufted ceilings and delicate, doll-like chairs make the room seem like some sort of lovely jewellery box. With the gentle glow of the bar illuminating my cheeks, I feel like a treasure just waiting to be admired. In this low lighting, no dream seems too far out of reach.

After a good night’s sleep on a bed that surely must have been made of an actual cloud, I find myself at a table at Suka enjoying a lovely English breakfast of an omelet, a healthy smoothie and a selection of tropical fruits. I catch a glimpse of the Courtyard Garden through the floor-to-ceiling windows that span the far wall. Designed by Philip Hicks in the late ’50s, the private courtyard features luscious greenery and an exquisite fountain that bubbles, soothingly, in the background.

I look at my watch to check the time, and find that, if I plan my morning just right, I should be able to make it back in time for a cuppa at the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. I wonder—for a fleeting moment—if the March Hare will be there.