A Staycation at the Sanderson

Oh boy, wasn’t summer a bundle of laughs? Rain, riots, recession woes, more rain. And a packed schedule meant no holiday in sight. Thank God for the Sanderson Hotel then, who eased my pain somewhat by inviting me on an overnight ‘staycation’.

The fun began with an afternoon check-in where I was shown to my clean, serene, light-infused room. Now I have stayed in a few fancy hotels in my time and the one thing I care most about is the room. Central locations, snazzy restaurants, sexy bell hops – they mean nothing to me if the room sucks. Having stayed at the Royalton (a fellow Morgan Group hotel) some years ago and been unimpressed with the ‘atmospheric’ dimness of its rooms, I was slightly apprehensive about The Sanderson. No need. The room was bathed in bright daylight, amped to the power of ten by an all-white décor including vast sleigh bed, wafty gauze curtains and minimalist, spa-like bathroom. Importantly, there was a full length mirror (alongside the bed – ahem) and lots of considerate amenities (iPod dock, extension plugs, Philippe Starck hand weights) plus a jam-packed – but prohibitively expensive – mini bar. I hate lugging a load of grooming products to hotels and that’s not necessary at The Sanderson as the bathroom is well stocked with its own lovely Agua Spa products.

If you ever stay at the Sanderson, hell if you’re even just in the vicinity (it’s a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus), you must indulge in an Agua Spa treatment. Massages are the kind of indulgence I rarely have as I simply never think they’re justified. (Cue one of my favourite moans: ‘who goes to spas, other than beauty editors?’) The famous spa itself is beautiful. More wafty floor-to-ceiling curtains and white décor but cosier than the rooms thanks to the floral arrangements and abundant aromatherapy candles.

The changing area is beyond. I was swaddled in a luxurious white robe and shown a generous private cubicle to shower and change in. Next, I filled in a questionnaire which asked questions like ‘how do you like your music’ and ‘what is your favourite smell’. Attention to detail is important to me and if was a paying customer I’d expect to be pandered to. The staff were wonderful; polite, discreet and charming although I was surprised to be presented with a massage therapist called Andre. Call me a prude but I’d have preferred to be asked if I minded a male therapist kneading my bare thighs. That said, I guess it didn’t matter as the massage was blissful and I was out for the count for the entire session.

Massage over, I lingered on a chaise sipping lemon water while pretending I hang out at places like this all the time. Post shower and a nap in that fabulous bed, I headed down to the intimate but eccentric Purple Bar where The Sanderson had arranged  a vodka tasting for me and my fellow staycationees. Every city now boasts a cool, statementy hotel, but Philippe Starke’s surreal interiors pioneered this kind of witty hotel design. Alas, not being much of a drinker, the vodka sliders were wasted on me but the presentation was very chic and the accompanying snacks to match the vodka regions were most delicious.

By this time, I was starving and looking forward to dinner at Suka. But first to the Sanderson’s Gallery Space where its very own artist in residence, DSC, talked us through an exhibition that examined our obsession with luxury and branding. Hmm, would I buy a Givenchy fire extinguisher? Um, yes I probably would …

Dinner at Suka in the Sanderson courtyard was buzzy and busy thanks to its final Sanderson Predicts evening, where we were serenaded by The Heartbreaks as we chowed on Malaysian-with-a-Euro-twist sharing plates of crispy soft-shell crab and chicken satay. By 11pm I felt like a complete sap taking myself to bed but honestly, all this delightful pigging out pampering thoroughly exhausted me and I just couldn’t resist the lure of that sleigh bed. (Yes, the sound of music did float up to my room for a little while longer but the Sanderson is a cool, fashiony hotel and in my experience, you have to expect a bit of noise seep-through in places like this. Solution: request a room far from the bar when booking.)

After an amazing night’s sleep, I woke completely refreshed. Was it the bed, the Egyptian cotton sheets or the 24 hour break from work, technology and Twitter chatter? Who can say but a breakfast of French toast and fruit (with impeccable service) set me up for the day. I guess being an American hotel, the Sanderson has a head start in customer service know-how and that combined with its witty Philippe Starck touches and slap-bag-in-the-middle-of-London location make a pretty great hotel package. If you can afford it, The Sanderson is a wonderful base to enjoy a London city break but if you can’t, at least try to sample the Agua Spa.