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Sanderson Hotel London
Review, photos, design and history
Article added on March 18, 2012

The history - the fruit of the collaboration between Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck
The history of the Sanderson building dates back to 1958. It was created as the headquarters and showroom for the Sanderson furnishing fabric company for the occasion of its bicentennial birthday. Designed by architect Jeff Holroyd of Slater and Uren, it is considered a classic example of 20th century architecture.

The building's structure was advanced because it could withstand changes of internal layout and use. Built around the open-to-the-sky inner courtyard with a Japanese garden by Philip Hicks, the Sanderson contains original glass murals by John Piper and mosaics by Jupp Dernbach-Mayern. Since 1991 a listed Grade II building with a star by the government's English Heritage Commission, the original Sanderson company sign could not be removed and gave the name to today's avant-garde hotel.

The Sanderson hotel in London is the fruit of the collaboration between Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck. Born in NYC in 1946, Ian Schrager is the former Studio 54 co-owner and co-founder from New York who, after having spent some jail time because of his activities at Studio 54, came up with the idea of a new kind of hotel, the Boutique and Design Hotel, with its home-away-from-home ambiance.

Born in Paris in 1949, Philippe Starck is a French hotel, interior and product designer, who became known to a larger public after he had designed French President François Mitterrand's private apartment in 1982. His work ranges from a Telefunken alarm clock to the interior design of Target Stores, from an optical mouse for Microsoft to an Aprilia motorcycle. Philippe Starck also designed numerous restaurant and hotel interiors.

The first hotel of Morgans Hotel Group dates back to 1984, Morgans on Madison Avenue in New York City. Opened in late 1999, the group's first London hotel was St Martins Lane. In 2000, Morgans Hotel Group opened its second London property, Sanderson. Both hotels in the British capital are the fruit of the collaboration between Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck.

They created an oasis of meditation and calm, but also one of music and entertainment, mainly at the Long Bar and in the Courtyard. The Sanderson is a kind of theatre, a fairy-tale world where not everything is what it seems to be.

In the lobby, pieces of African art and African household furniture are put together with designer pieces by Philippe Starck. Seemingly heavy African water bottles made of metal are in fact light rubber water bottles by Philippe Starck made from car tires. Among Starck's signature pieces is his “Red Lips” sofa in the lobby, giving guests a warm welcome and goodbye kiss. Below the reception desks you can watch a moving, digital art installation which lasts some 30 minutes before it starts anew.

The floor-to-ceiling glass façade diffuses natural light through flowing layers of ethereal sheer curtains. Expect the unexpected. Surrealism, surprise, wonder and fantasy are part of the concept at Sanderson, which is very different from the mostly traditional London luxury hotels.

Sanderson hotel in London is an Urban Spa: restaurant, bars and spa

The inner courtyard with the original 1958 fountain is divided into two spaces by a Japanese garden. One side is used by the Long Bar, the other by the recommendable Suka Restaurant, offering casual Malaysian street food. Since 2009, the courtyard offers live music in summer. Florence & The Machine as well as Little Boots have performed here.

Sanderson is famous for fashion and film events. For instance the premiere party of Alice in Wonderland, the movie by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp, took place here, with the two artists present.

The Purple Bar on the ground floor, next to the lobby is a kind of jewelry box in purple, lavender and violet, with tiny, but comfortable chairs where you can feel like Alice in Wonderland. Philippe Starck played here as elsewhere with scale, making normally larger objects small and smaller objects large.

The music at the Purple Bar is more discrete than at the Long Bar, where often DJs play their music. The sound can also be heard at Suka Restaurant, which is not separated by walls from the Long Bar.

The Purple Bar is dark, intimate, cozy and rather quiet, whereas the Long Bar is bright, long and fully animated by guests and music, busy already in the afternoon! The Long Bar is made of white, transparent and illuminated marble. According to Philippe Starck, you should feel like on a cat walk both in the Long Bar and in the Lobby. Guests are spectators and performers.

The Agua Spa, where the Sanderson textile company used to hang up its large samples, is situated on two floors and offers a calm, relaxing atmosphere. The 14 treatment rooms are separated by white curtains. Meditation beds, a chill-out zone and a gym complement the spa offer. You are just five minutes from Oxford Circus, London's busiest square!

For people who have to work even in an oasis of calm and entertainment, there is the boardroom with natural daylight, seating 25 people.

The rooms

Taking the elevators is another step into a fairy-tale world where you can leave your problems behind. You go an a kind of trip trough space into another galaxy. The floors are dark, with deep carpets. You enter your room through white curtains which enhance the dream-world experience. You return into a bright world full of wonders.

A “floating bed” with hidden bed legs and a “Swan Chair”, both by Philippe Starck, as well as a cloud painting on the ceiling above your bed await you. The painting is a reproduction of a work by a member of the Swedish royal family, I was told.

The hotel room carpets are inspired by Voltaire's handwriting. What looks like a contemporary art sculpture on the wall are in fact ergonomic weights to work out by Philippe Starck, who also offers different light levels in your room.

If you stay like my in a Deluxe King Room (mine was 231) or in a category above, you can enjoy a free standing bathtub and a walk-in shower. Deluxe Rooms already have a respectable size of between 41.8 to 51 square meters.

Some of the lofts come with a balcony. I did not have a chance to have a look at them because they were all fully booked. In fact, all rooms above my category were sold out. So call the hotel well in advance before you book your trip to London.

Because it is a listed Heritage building, all rooms at Sanderson are in one piece. Only glass separates the bedroom from the bathroom. Curtains, including a special pink curtain, can give you extra-privacy if you should have guests.

Throughout the room categories, the design remains very similar, with the exception of both the Penthouse and the Apartment, which enjoy additional features and a separate elevator.

Created in 2000, the Sanderson still look fresh and fashionable.

What to do in the area? Live music, shopping and more in Soho

Sanderson is situated just north of Oxford Street, a two-minute walk away from Soho, where you can find the famous Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club
, Soho Theatre and other entertainment venues. Oxford Street is famous for high street fashion. If you you are looking for other restaurants than the Sanderson's recommendable, authentic Malaysian Suka, you can walk down to Sketch, a restaurant offering a fusion of English and French cuisine and where each chair and other piece of furniture is different from the other.

Many hotel, restaurant and bar guests are in the entertainment, music, film and fashion industry. The crowd is rather trendy and informal. You don't need a tie at Sanderson. But you are also not frowned upon, if you should wear one.

Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG, surprisingly still on planet Earth.

The elevator. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

View of the lobby. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

The entrance. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

View of a guestroom. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

View of a bathroom. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

The Penthouse. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

The Long Bar. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

The more intimate Purple Bar. The photo does not give you a feel for the small scale of comfortable chairs and for the jewelry box feeling of the bar itself. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

The Courtyard by night. It is divided into a part used by the Long Bar and another one used by the guests of Suka Restaurant. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

The Billiard Room. Photos © Sanderson / Morgans Hotel Group.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.