The only time I am fortunate enough to see a yacht is usually when I am on holiday, aimlessly strolling around the docks staring at a luxury I’d long to have. Little did I know, there was an even bigger yacht sitting at the Royal Victoria Docks, in London – and it’s permanent. This floating hotel is home to Lands End Restaurant, where newly appointed executive chef, Paul Hegley, has created an a la carte menu, showcasing his culinary excellence. The dishes are heavily influenced by British classics, using seasonal ingredients, sourced in the UK. Hegley’s journey at the Lands End Restaurant is only just beginning; he aims to ‘transform the food at the Sunborn, creating not a good restaurant and hotel offer but a great one’.
A large glass lift greets you at the entrance, taking you up to the multiple levels of the Yacht. We stepped out onto the terrace bar level, where the main reception is. A large circular staircase is the main attraction here, almost as beautiful as the golden chandelier. The main part of the yacht is traditionally decorated, with royal blue carpets and marble floors, mirrored ceilings and terracotta red walls. Moving into the restaurant, some of the furniture and finishing touches don’t quite reflect the high end restaurant Lands End is striving to be, but with stunning views over the docks coupled with superb service, it’s not something you linger on for too long.
Victoria Docks is very much in an up and coming area of London. Over the last few years, the surrounding areas have gone from building sites to home of some of the most modern hotels and restaurants in London. With hotels and small apartments lining much of the River Thames, expect to see mostly hotel guests dining in the restaurant. That said, this is very much a place to visit for a special occasion. While we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks on the terrace, watching the sun set, it was evident groups of friends and couples were there for this reason.
We were lucky enough to dine at Lands End on the hottest evening of the summer, so far. The doors to the front deck were open, where a few tables were set, offering glorious views over the dock and the rest of London – of course, we sat here. To begin with, the waiter brought us out an entree of curried scotch egg and fresh warm bread – my weakness. We then shared two starters, the Brixham crab, served with crème fraiche, apple, cucumber & caviar – you could really taste just how fresh this was, as well as the Steak Tartare, which was topped with an egg yolk and made with marmite. It was different. I liked it a lot. For our main, we selected the Cote du boeuf to share; 800g of perfectly cooked, tender steak, which we enjoyed with a delicious bottle of Côtes du Rhône. Not wanting to rush such a wonderful experience, we had a break between our main course and dessert, admiring the skyline as it changed from day to night. With our glasses still full of the rich red, we decided that the cheeseboard would be a fantastic way to finish our meal and enjoy the final sips. A spread of four cheeses were served with chutney, oat crackers and grapes. By this point we’d completely lost track of time, enjoying friendly conversation with the waiting staff and relishing the rare, warm summer evening.
In a nutshell
While the food will be just as good in summer and winter, there’s something very special about being able to sit on the front deck, watching the water ripple peacefully and the sun set behind the skyscrapers. The waiters went above and beyond to make sure everything was just right. I will definitely be back – if only to collect my one lonely high heel, which I ashamedly left under the table upon changing into flats before heading home. I am still waiting for my knight in shining armour to come looking for the girl who lost her ‘slipper’ – I think I might be waiting a while.
LandsEnd@sunbornlondon.com; +44 (0) 20 3714 8111; sunbornhotels.com/london