The Telegraph gets a sneak peek on board Sunborn London, the capital’s superyacht hotel, a vessel that is more tired cruise ship than playground for the mega rich
Starting this month, Britons unwilling to spend upwards of £150,000 a week to charter a superyacht can instead stay overnight on one for £180, and it won’t even be necessary to leave the country.
Britain’s first “superyacht hotel”, 394ft (120m) Sunborn London is now permanently moored in the capital’s Royal Victoria Dock, just east of Canary Wharf. In advance of its official opening on May 19, I was invited on board to see what awaits its guests.
A superyacht Sunborn London may be, but I was disappointed that its owner, Turku-based property development company Sunborn, hasn’t chosen to capitalise on this. Guests who are hoping to buy into a sense of oligarch-worthy luxury for one night only will be disappointed, with the vessel feeling more like a tired cruise ship than a playground for the super-rich.
Although all are generously sized and many have private balconies, entry-level rooms have the same features that you might find in any bland chain hotel: beige walls, nondescript artwork and cramped bathrooms (which contain just showers, not baths). There are some flourishes, however. An in-room Sony tablet provides access to the hotel’s facilities and local shops, the floors in those small bathrooms are heated, and toiletries are by Molton Brown. Suites, meanwhile, feature Jacuzzis and saunas. There are other distractions on board, too. Standing by the hotel's gilded lobby, the Sundowner bar has impressive views of Canary Wharf, the O2 and the Emirates Air Line, and its terrace should prove popular come summer. Land’s End restaurant will serve Mediterranean food, and, in tribute to its Finnish origins, the boat’s gym features a 12-man sauna. It’s all pleasant enough, but the lack of nautical touches seems a missed opportunity to promote the hotel's unique attributes and unusual setting. The hotel plans to launch an “Under the Sea” afternoon tea, featuring octopus-shaped cakes and the like, but other points of distinction are few.
That may be because, despite its unconventional infrastructure, Sunborn London is a business hotel at heart. Adjacent to the ExCel exhibition centre and by London City Airport, the property caters to business travellers, with a large auditorium at its core, meeting and event spaces throughout, and the ship’s wheelhouse converted into a private function room. And in that respect Sunborn London seems to have got things right. Rates for standard rooms are expected to reach about £400 a night at peak conference times – in line with prices charged by London’s most lauded luxury hotels – with management saying they expect to be completely booked out during those periods.