STAYCATION SPECIAL – South Place Hotel, Moorgate
Welcome to Social Concierge’s Saucy Sleepover, where we’re out to prove that a romantic weekend away doesn’t have to mean leaving the city.
In fact, as we’re about to explain, it doesn’t even have to mean leaving the City.
Our destination is South Place Hotel, a boutique art hotel a hop-and-a-skip away from London’s Liverpool Street Station, in the heart of the city’s financial district. It claims to be the only independent luxury hotel in the Square Mile; as a result, it feels like you’ve stumbled across an oasis in the desert. This is particularly true at the weekend, when the City can feel as empty and inhospitable as the Sahara.
It’s clear from the moment you walk through the door that the hotel’s creators – serial restaurateurs D&D London – were going for a certain kinda vibe when they designed this place. It is seriously mood-lit in here: the dimmer switches all seem permanently set to “Stygian” and whatever light does manage to escape is soaked up on contact with the matte-black walls.
Punctuating the darkness are a variety of sculptures, paintings and pieces of conceptual modern art, many of which were commissioned especially for the hotel. It’s all very chic. Once your eyes have had time to adjust to the gloom, that is.
OK. Here’s the plan. Have you heard the one about Stella McCartney? In a 2011 interview with the Evening Standard, her husband Alasdair Willis revealed a story from their dating days that should be an inspiration to us all. Realising that she was feeling overworked, he told her to grab her passport and pack a weekend bag. Without revealing the destination, he told her that he was whisking her off on a restorative mini-break. Florence? Rome? After picking her up from her office, which was on Old Bond Street at the time, he turned right onto Stafford Street, right again onto Albemarle Street, and after no more than a hundred yards, he stopped the car. They were outside Brown’s, the Mayfair hotel at which they first met.
Smooth, right? That’s exactly the kinda thing we’re going for here. Tell your significant other to pack a bag and meet you at Liverpool Street on Saturday afternoon. This opens up the possibility that you might be heading to City Airport, and from there, to who knows where. You might even drop a few hints – “bring swimwear”, etc. Have a taxi waiting, and take the 30-second drive to the front door of South Place Hotel instead.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that unless you’re feeling very bold, an overnight hotel stay ain’t your typical first date. It’s pretty forward for a second date, too. This one is for the lovers instead – the serial daters who are looking to seal the deal and take it to the next level.
There’s no “game” to speak of here: you’re more or less guaranteed to be sharing a bed at the end of the night. What follows, then, is merely a set of guidelines to ensure that you get the most out of your stay.
Once you’ve checked in, arrange for a welcome glass of champagne and a chocolate brownie to be brought to the room, and empty out the bubble-bath miniatures into the enormous tub while you wait. (You did book a room with a bathtub, right?).
Take a moment to figure out the mood lighting and music controls, then spend the next couple of hours splashing around, blowing bubbles and letting the champagne go to your head. Suitably refreshed, get dressed up for a Saturday night in.
Angler, Tony Fleming’s Michelin-starred seafood restaurant, occupies the top floor and terrace of the building. This is the main draw of South Place Hotel, bringing in foodie types from far and wide.
Elegant as it is, if you find the prospect of “a gastronomic voyage through British waters” a little intimidating, then you could do far worse than 3 South Place instead, the hotel’s bistro and grill on the ground floor which serves up well-executed, unpretentious comfort food in a low-lit (of course) environment.
Try the seafood bisque to start, then follow it up with the Devon Red chicken pie accompanied by a side of the most divinely rich mashed potato that you have ever tasted. Go easy on it, though: we estimate that it can’t be anything less than one third butter.
Give dessert a miss and head up to Angler’s rooftop terrace for a digestif instead. Play lucky dip with the cocktail menu, which includes numbered creations like No 5, No 23 and No 69. Once the view over the City starts to shine (like you’ve had too much wine) it’s time to beat a hasty retreat to your room.
The Order – Part II – Breakfast in Bed
Order thick slices of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, fruit smoothies and pastries to your room, and another flute of champagne, if you can stomach it. Loll around lazily as you pick over breakfast.
Take your time, savouring the fact that there’s no plane to catch, and check yourself back into the real world at your leisure.