Enjoying a slap-up dinner aboard the Sunborn London, I had the distinct feeling that soon the anchor would be raised and we’d be sailing off for a maritime adventure.

And yet the hotel on the water - moored in London’s Victoria Dock - is more about high teas than the high seas.

London’s only super yacht hotel, it’s permanently moored on the River Thames so there was no chance of waking up in a new port of call.

But as a place to stay in the capital, it offered something a bit different and a great alternative to atmosphere-free, corporate hotels.

The accommodation on the water provides the unique experience of residing on a super yacht while enjoying the amenities of a luxury hotel. And yes, you’re right, it did feature on Strictly Come Dancing.

The lifts on the outside of the vessel, which whisked us up to the second floor reception area, were the proof we wouldn’t be leaving the dock.


But stepping out into the striking reception area with its teak wood accents, a sweeping glass staircase and magnificent chandelier, it had all the exciting feel of the beginning of a cruise.

The decor maintains the charm and sophistication of a classic sailing yacht and it boggles the brain to realise that the super-rich have boats this size all to themselves.

However we were sharing; on the 128 metre Sunborn London there are 136 bedrooms and suites spread over its five decks, along with the Lands End restaurant, Sundown cocktail bar, event spaces, Symphony Spa and decked areas, ideal for drinks looking out across the skyline of the city of London.

It didn’t feel the slightest bit cramped or claustrophobic though; corridors were wide and, unlike the actual cruises I’ve been on, the restaurant tables and other public area seating were far enough apart that you weren’t unintentionally eavesdropping on your neighbours’ conversations.

After settling in to our spacious and immaculate Yacht Executive room, which boasted a roomy bathroom and balcony, we headed for the bar for a couple of expertly-made cocktails - a negroni and a gin martini - to savour before dinner.

It’s an attractive space but I did find the lighting, running down the many window frames and reflected in myriad shiny surfaces, a bit dizzying… and that was before I’d finished the drink.

However, it was a great place to admire the view of the O2 and the Emirates Air Line cable car link across the River Thames.

Then it was on to the Lands End fine dining restaurant, which is open to non-residents.

The name comes from the one given to the area by Victorian engineer George Bidder in 1840s who cannily bought up the original undeveloped marshland and made a handsome return as the land was sold for the docks and for a belt of factories along the river.

The short menu offered plenty of choice for meat eaters and pescatarians and had a few decent vegetarian options but, in light of its growing popularity, I was surprised there were no vegan dishes.

Mind you, it didn’t bother us unduly as we happily tucked in to starters of seared scallops with celeriac puree, apple and bacon (£14) and squash and sheep’s cheese arancini (£11) and mains of spiced monkfish (£27) and sirloin steak (£27).

The Sunborn is easy enough to get to - from Paddington you take the Circle line to Tower Hill and then pick up the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) at Tower Gateway to Custom House - but it is quite isolated.

Handy for the ExCel centre - it’s right next door - and close to London City Airport and Canary Wharf, it’s a good base for business travellers but not a lively area for nightlife.

Luckily The Sunborn is a destination in itself, so it was back to the ship for us, where the bar was buzzing and we spent a pleasant evening.

Then it was back to our cabins - sorry, rooms - for a good night’s rest with the Thames lapping outside.

We might not have woken up in a new port, but staying on The Sunborn was just as exciting.

Jaine Blackman


Royal Victoria Dock, Western Gateway,

London E16 1AA

Book at 0203 7148111 or go to sunbornlondon.com

Nightly rates start from £160 based on two sharing on a B&B basis.

Handy for: ExCel London and the O2 Arena for concerts and exhibitions as well as London City Airport.