It’s the year of the staycation, and from Cornwall to the New Forest, I’ve recently been hunting out some of the hidden gems the UK has to offer. Little did I know that it would be on my doorstep where I’d find one of my favourites. As a Londoner, I can vouch for many of us when I say that staying in the city for a break away never really crosses our minds. However, I can firmly declare that I have been utterly swayed after staying at Bankside Hotel in the city. This six-storey London offering is a delight.
Tucked behind the iconic OXO Tower on the Southbank, this hotel is housed in a neighbourhood that booms with creativity, with the National Theatre, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and Borough Market being just some of the offerings nearby. You’re immediately captivated by the design of Bankside. As part of the Autograph Collection, it’s clear that the interior heads behind the hotel haven’t done things half-heartedly. Dayna Lee is the mastermind behind the artistic treasure trove. As a former film-set director, she’s certainly injected some of her past profession into the venue, with pinball machines fixed to one wall, and awe-inspiring lighting inside the restaurant. There’s art in the reception, including pieces by British artist Helen Gorrill, immediately grabbing your attention and pulling you in to the visual feast on offer.
The room was superb. There are a total of 161 airy-residential style rooms, split into categories from the Modest Double and Modest Queen, to Generous Queen, Starter Suite and Biggest Suite. Our room was a Starter Suite, and it felt like a home away from home. The first thing to note is the size, with the space existing like a studio apartment with a large (and very cosy) bed, a wraparound sofa which is ideal to laze on and enjoy drinks, and a magnificent bathroom which oozed style. There’s a stunning element to the rooms, with cosy meets rustic charm seen in the form of concrete pillars left unpainted. You can feel the buzz of the city around you and a peek out of the windows gives you a glimpse of the hubbub of Londoners heading out for their post-work sundowners. We’d taken our adorable puppy along to experience the trappings of Bankside – and they’re as dog-friendly as it gets. There was a cosy bed awaiting her and she bounded around in excitement before falling lazily into it and drifting off to the sleep. There’s even a coveted canine concierge service up for grabs, as well as food bowls and treats to keep those tails wagging away.
Before dinner we sank into the sofas inside our charming room, and it was undeniably hard to peel ourselves off them. After a dreamy shower and a freshen up, we waltzed out to the terrace for a T&T. The Tequila and Tonic is fast becoming the staple drink of the summer, which is hardly surprising given it is both refreshing, yet also provides that kick to take you into the evening. The trend can be enjoyed on the terrace, as they’ve partnered with El Rayo Tequila which, we’re sure, will knock your socks off. The beautiful trappings of the terrace allow you to sink into seats surrounded by playful and vibrant modern Mexican artwork, and you can tuck into some fresh ceviche to go hand in hand with your T&T. The bar pops with vibrant colour, and the smiley waiting staff make the tipple that even more enjoyable.
For dinner, eating at the Art Yard Bar & Kitchen is a must. It’s a beautiful setting housed inside the hotel, and it’s both stylish and informal at the same time. The restaurant serves seasonal and fresh food and you can even bring your dog to revel in the eclectic eatery. Picking from the menu came with some difficultly, simply due to being spoilt for choice. I started light with some charred sweetcorn with radicchio, chicory and jalapeño dressing. It was beautifully put together and burst with flavour. For the main, marinated halloumi came up trumps. Side dishes have the ability to be disregarded when it comes to meals, but the two we opted for were so standout that they deserve a sentence or two of their own! The green beans and toasted almonds? Amazing. Toasted almonds always add that sweet kick you need and the sweet and savoury partnership was delightful. We also delved into a pot of seaweed jersey royal potatoes which were hearty and wholesome. What made the evening all the more special was the attentive and thorough service, and a magic trick that has left me scratching my head ever since, performed by one of the mixologists. Breakfast delivered too, with lip-smacking dishes such as waffles with berries and bacon sarnies on offer. I even feasted on a cheese board which set me up perfectly for the day. Tea and coffee – a must for most Londoners – was also served, with bottomless top-ups available, should you need that extra caffeine hit.
The service at Bankside is friendly through and through, with every member of staff making sure you’re well tended to for the duration of your stay. There’s also a keen focus on sustainability, with staff making the effort to reduce their carbon footprints by introducing procedures and processes to control daily energy use, and decreasing energy requirements. As well, several tables in the lobby are made from recycled plastic, and they use low VOC paint throughout Bankside to reduce the emission of harmful toxic chemicals into the air. These are just two of many initiatives implemented by the hotel, with a firm list of goals in place that Bankside would like to achieve, from reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, to adopting a zero-to-landfill policy.
Whether you use the hotel as a base for your city exploring, or to sink into the beds, head to the gym and indulge in wellness, it ticks both boxes. The hotel is a divine spot to visit to take some ‘me-time’ and you can even embrace your inner gym bunny by heading down and getting your heart pumping using the extensive amount of equipment on offer. This sophisticated and savvy staycation spot was awarded the 2021 Traveller’s “Best of the Best” Award, popping them in the top 1 per cent of all hotels worldwide, and I can hardly say I’m surprised.
What are you waiting for? Book your chic city staycation at Bankside Hotel here now!