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Review: the Sea Containers London hotel

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This is our review of the Sea Containers London hotel on the South Bank.

Whilst not your typical Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt property, the Sea Containers Hotel has become an iconic part of the South Bank. It is now owned by Lore Hotel Group, which also operates One Hundred Shoreditch, a hotel which we reviewed here.

Sea Containers recently launched its ‘Commuter Club’ hotel subscription and, seeing it was fairly good value, we thought we’d see what it was like.

This is a two part feature. In this article we review the Sea Containers London hotel. In Part 2, we look at what the ‘Commuter Club’ subscription offers – click here for that.

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Sea Containers London offered us a free night when we contacted them for more information for an article on ‘Commuter Club’.

The hotel website is here.

But first, a bit of history ….

Located just west of Blackfriars Bridge and the iconic One Blackfriars residential building, Sea Containers Hotel takes up the former offices in Sea Containers House.

Although originally intended as a luxury hotel, its proximity to the City of London and the lack of a river walk back in the 70s meant that it opened as offices in 1978. The name comes from the company that was based here, Sea Containers, which owned Orient Express amongst other assets.

Fast forward 36 years and Sea Containers House fulfils its destiny, opening as a Mondrian Hotel in 2014 before going independent in 2019.

A lot has changed in the last four decades, not least the extension of the riverside walk from the National Theatre and South Bank Centre past the OXO Tower, Sea Containers towards the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre and Millennium Bridge. The South Bank is now a tourist hotspot with Sea Containers enjoying prime positioning with some of the best hotel views in London.

Inside the Sea Containers Hotel

The hotel embraces the maritime heritage of the buildings original tenants through and through. A gigantic polished copper ship’s hull draws you in from the otherwise relatively discreet rear entrance:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Inside you’ll find more ship-inspired artwork, including these gigantic blue chain links:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Reception is to the left, in a cutout of the hull:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

It was very quiet on the Coronation Monday evening. I was checked in by a very friendly member of staff, offered a glass of prosecco and was off to my room within a couple of minutes.

Rooms at Sea Containers London

There are 12 different room and suite types at Sea Containers, ranging in size from a standard guest room (29 sqm) to the larger riverview balcony suites (65 sqm). As it was a very quiet day I was very lucky to be upgraded to a riverview balcony suite, but I also managed to take a look at the standard rooms.

Whilst not all of the 359 rooms have river views, a large proportion do thanks to the large Thames frontage.

The good news is that even standard rooms are incredibly spacious, and fitted to the same high spec as the suites. These are definitely some of the biggest entry-level rooms I’ve seen at a London hotel.

On the left, in a standard room, you have a large marble bathroom with walk-in shower:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Whilst there’s no bathtub the room is still generously sized. Toiletries are by Malin+Goetz:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

My only annoyance was the lack of a soap dish and rails for the hand towels.

Following the bathroom you have the bedroom which is, again, very spacious:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

The beds are very comfortable and come with two square and two rectangular pillows.

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

There is plenty of floor space for a luggage rack. On the right hand side you have a free standing mini bar:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

A Nespresso coffee machine is provided. The rest of the mini bar is chargeable, with a range of mini bottles of spirits and snacks available.

Finally, in the window you’ll find a large desk as well as an armchair:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Whilst this one didn’t have riverside views, it did look across to the London Eye – can’t complain with that.

I would have zero complaints staying in a standard room. They are big and feature the same marble bathrooms and Tom Dixon furniture as the suites.

Suites at the Sea Containers Hotel

Whilst I won’t give you a full tour of the riverside balcony suites, I did want to give you a quick look inside. This is the largest available room at Sea Containers, at 65 sqm.

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

If we’re being technical, this is more of a junior suite given the open plan style of the space. If you plan on holding meetings your clients will be able to see your bed. The suite has a large bathroom as well as a second separate toilet for guests.

A round table is on the left, with a living area (complete with large TV) closer to the window:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel


Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Opposite you have the stocked mini bar:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

On the right is a large marble bathroom, with shower suite and separate bath tub, as well as another toilet:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

There’s only one wash basin, which for a room this size seems like an oversight:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Here is the bed, with a fold out TV:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

To the left of the TV and next to the balcony is a large desk with lots of outlets including HDMI.

There are, in fact, two balconies, one on each half of the room. This was the view on a miserable afternoon in May:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

As you can see, it looks across to Blackfriars Bridge, with St Pauls visible behind. Once the Thames Tideway (supersewer) works are complete it will look even nicer.

My only feedback to the hotel is that the table on the balcony was dirty and clearly hadn’t been wiped down before my stay. London is a dirty city and dust and particulate matter can settle very quickly – as it did here.

The lack of a master switch for the lights was also annoying, as I had to go round and turn the many lamps off individually.

Breakfast and dinner at the Sea Containers restaurant

If you have a ‘Commuter Club’ subscription you get 15% off food for up to six people in the bar and restaurant.

On the ground floor, and overlooking the Thames, you’ll also find the Sea Containers restaurant. The nautical theme continues, with a big yellow submarine (!) suspended over the bar:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

The seating is stylish and includes an outdoor terrace, which is always busy in the summer:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel


Review: Sea Containers London hotel

The restaurant serves modern dishes with a particular emphasis on sea food and a tiny Spanish influence. Small plates are from £12 whilst main courses start at £24.

To start, we tried the crab toast and sea bass ceviche tacos, both of which are delicious:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

For our main course I shared the lobster and fries as well as the lamb rump, both of which were, again, great:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Breakfast at Sea Containers

Breakfast is also served here, with a choice of buffet supplemented by an a la carte menu. The buffet is decent and features all the usual hot items you need for a full English breakfast, including eggs made to order.

This is supplemented by a range of pastries:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

…. as well as fruit, yoghurt, cereals and cold cuts:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

I went for my classic eggs royale (£14), which was very tasty and perfectly cooked:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Service at both breakfast and dinner was excellent, which hasn’t always been the case at hotels in London since covid. Sea Containers is clearly doing something right in attracting and retaining good staff.

Lyaness rooftop bar

On the 12th floor you’ll also find the Lyaness rooftop bar. Whilst this was closed when I was there, I did manage to get a peek inside. It is an incredibly light space with views on two sides:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

There is also a narrow terrace that runs along the left hand side, with views across the river.

Spa, gym and cinema

There’s more! On the basement levels you’ll also find an agua spa, a Curzon cinema and a 24 hour gym.

The gym was well equipped:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

The spa, meanwhile, is beautifully appointed. There are multiple treatment rooms as well as a steam room and relaxation room with this impressive tear drop water feature:

Review: Sea Containers London hotel

Meanwhile, the 56-seat Curzon cinema is a single screen showing the latest blockbusters. I previously watched The Woman King here with my parents – it’s a little hidden gem.


I was impressed with my stay at the Sea Containers London hotel, which combines the building’s heritage with spacious guest rooms and an impressive range of guest facilities.

From a design perspective, Sea Containers is clearly successful, with inspired maritime features such as the copper hull that straddles the lobby and the gigantic chain link sculptures. Marble bathrooms and Tom Dixon furniture also elevate the experience, with a modern, art deco inspired aesthetic.

I was equally impressed by the food and service in the restaurant, which were both as good as each other. Service was always warm and friendly, including at reception.

Overall, this was an impressive stay in an iconic building. You can find out more, and book, on the hotel website here.

How does Commuter Club work?

Would you want to stay here on a subscription basis, with the hotel storing your items between stays? Click here for Part 2 and our look at the new Sea Containers London ‘Commuter Club’.

Hotel offers update – June 2023:

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Comments (28)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Nick says:

    Interesting review, thanks Rhys.

    Over some years now I’ve often looked at the Sea Containers website to see what sort of pricing they have for their suites, because we like to enjoy a Thames view, and the likes of Hilton/IHG/Marriott are pretty limited in that regard, and can be very expensive, within ‘central London’, when that’s what you desire, but, then, I accept, also, the likes of The Savoy, are clearly significantly more!

    Your review may well mean us giving it a try, because, if you want a decent suite, and a Thames view, Sea Containers are, generally, pretty competitive.

    • aseftel says:

      Have you considered Park Plaza Westminster Bridge? In particular they have some suites with cracking terraces across the river from the houses of parliament.

      • Nick says:

        Many thanks aseftel! We’ve noted those, but haven’t tried out yet…probably a case of, not necessarily the right reason, sticking to the likes of Hilton/IHG, due to status, and the usual benefits.

        We stayed recently in the Westminster Suite at the Westminster London Curio, having stayed there several times before, when it was Doubletree. It was very good, and the staff were great, and a good Thames view.

        London stays should be interesting over the next year, or so. Our favourite was Crowne Plaza London – The City, for many years, but now Hyatt, which we’ll be trying out in the next few months too.

  • John says:

    I have considered booking Sea Containers on a couple of occasions but I find the boxy shape of their rooms to be visually disinteresting. Yes, all hotel rooms are cut from similar templates, but these boxes scream office not bedroom. Nhow – undoubtedly a lower category – have achieved a more pleasing outcome using curved surfaces, layering, and prominent features.

    • Rhys says:

      The shape of the rooms are literally the same as 90% of other hotels. Unless you’re converting a really historic building rectangles are the most efficient use of space…

  • Henry Young says:

    The exact same bathroom toiletries used by the former Hudson Hotel in NYC – I wonder if there is a connection beyond that.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Probably retained from its Mondrian days (Morgan’s hotels)

      But it’s used by Hilton too

  • PH says:

    Real marble or marble-look bathrooms?

  • Russell Gowers says:

    It’s a lovely hotel – only stayed a few times because it’s not often in budget for me, but it’s fantastic. As others have said, the cocktail bar on the ground floor is genuinely one of the best around.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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