Nov 30th, 2007 by Håkan
Q: What is it? A: A former wallpaper factory HQ that Philippe Starck turned into a sleek, absurd, surrealistic hotel-scene that still feels… well, modern. And it’s working better with every time!
”No Sir, you can’t change the façade…”
The 1958 façade is on the national heritage list. The previous tenant was the Sanderson HQ, Official Supplier of wallpaper and textile to the British Queen (visit www.sanderson-online.co.uk for a flowery experience). Ian Schrager wasn’t allowed to change anything, not even the sign above the entrance. So the hotel had to stick with the wallpaper factory name. But in my opinion it’s for the better. And the market seems to have embraced it. On my last visit, (June 2010), the hotel was fully booked.
Even 10 years later, it’s a quite spectacular lobby.
Enter through the main entrance and… jaws are being dropped. Philippe Starck has been quite successful, (which has not always been the case). Surrealist and dadaist Jean Cocteau is commonly mentioned in articles featuring this hotel, with lines like: ”a surreal Cocteau-like dreamworld with a lushly landscaped interior courtyard garden”. Details may seem a little dated, but make no mistake. The Sanderson lobby has influenced more than just a few hotels. The copy-cats all came here for inspiration.
Fancy a little dumbbell work-out before breakfast?
Rooms are spacious and compared to the St. Martin’s Lane Hotel there are many quirky little details: In-room gyms and Starck-designed dumbbells. Bathrooms with glass walls (don’t panic; the toilet itself is surrounded by dull glass). And I confess: I have played with the controls to the curtains more times than a grown up man should. An oil painting has been bolted to the cieling, centered over the bed – it is a reproduction of ”The Cloud” (oil on canvas, 1895) by Swedish painter Prince Eugen (1865-1947). It was painted shortly after the prince started to spend his summers in a small cottage in Tyresö, south of Stockholm, located less than a stone’s throw from my parents’ home – it’s a small world indeed!
And the staff makes it’s a great place to stay in…
Since the Sanderson opened in April 2000 I’ve stayed there four times and the service has improved with every time. Staff members works the public areas with confidence and competence (the bell boys are particularly excellent). The restaurant, Suka, (designed by Tom Dixon), delivers Malaysian food with a smile (it’s also a pleasant meal experience). And finally, there is The Long Bar, which has to be one of the most perfect pick-up places ever: Long as a swimming pool, with relaxed and competent bartenders, it has the perfect size for ordering drinks to someone on the other side. And to the beats and percussion of the friendly DJ Basil, who could ever go wrong?
50 Berners Street
London, England W1T 3NG