When it comes to romantic views of London’s waterfront, there are many excellent options, from sipping champagne 400 feet above the Thames on the London Eye to holding hands over the table at a riverfront restaurant like Skylon. Yet for something completely different on your next date night, take your sweetheart out for dinner and drinks on Sunborn London, a floating hotel and restaurant that shook up the city’s hospitality industry when it arrived in the spring. Leave the Dramamine at home, because you won’t get seasick on this retrofitted superyacht. It’s permanently moored at Victoria Dock on a bend of the river that affords fantastic views of the Docklands–though you still might feel a little weak in the knees at the beauty of it all.
Clasp your partner’s hand as you step off the dock and into a world of oligarch-level luxury, where an evening of nautical-inspired indulgence awaits. Make your way through the welcoming lobby, with its dark wood and art deco accents, and up the stunning chrome and glass staircase to the appropriately named Sundown Lounge. There, some of the city’s finest champagne cocktails await you as the sun’s last rays cast an orange glow across the sky. The view is nothing short of breathtaking as you watch the last of the Emirates Air Line cable cars drift across the skyline between the glassy office towers of Canary Wharf and the O2 dome. Though the glittering city lights and gentle waves vie for your attention, your eyes linger on your date, who gives you a charming wink before you move on to dinner at adjacent Land’s End restaurant.
Like love, the cuisine at Land’s End–named for the former marshland of its current home–is anything but predictable, with chef Pawel Motzek’s kitchen offering a gourmet mix of British, Mediterranean, and international flavors. Trade bites of salmon sashimi as you sip fine wine and pretend you’re on an around-the-world cruise–a fantasy that’s all too easy to swallow. After dinner, take a stroll along the deck and pretend like you’re living in the lap of luxury aboard the Titanic — pre-iceberg, of course. Go ahead and shout “I’m the king of the world!” from the bow. You won’t be the first.
If, after all the fun you’ve had, the thought of returning to dry land is simply too much to bear, drop by the front desk and inquire about a stateroom for the evening. After all, your date doesn’t have to end until you want it to.
Photo by Jon Stow