The first thing to greet you are the lips. Pouting, siren red - and in the form of a sofa.
Welcome to The Sanderson, one of London’s coolest hotels.
It’s a mere step away from Oxford Street where all the lovely shops are - and it’s a venue where style is paramount.
I discovered it on a weekend break which began with a hassle -free journey down from Leeds to Kings Cross on an East Coast train.
Drinking tea, eating sandwiches and indulging in a scone with cream as you whip down the length of England is not a bad way to travel.
Now, one short taxi ride later, I was at my destination, which was looking a bit Tardis-like. On the outside it’s a bland-looking, late 1950s block, with little hint of the classy interior.
Fittingly enough though, it has a view of the former Post Office tower, which seems right since that tower was the icon of modern London in the 1960s, bringing to stunning life the phrase “white heat of technology” first employed by then prime minister Harold Wilson.
Inside the reception of The Sanderson, that trendy retro theme continues: all is mid 20th century chic.
There are the lips, inspired by Dali’s Mae West lips sofa; there is the longest chaise longue you will ever see, and there is one of those chairs shaped like an egg and hanging from the ceiling. The sort of chair that needs a women curled up inside it with backcombed, flicked hair and lots of eye liner.
Should you visit, you will find yourself drawn to this foyer. It invites exploration. I found myself wandering around it even after I had been handed the key to my rather lovely room.
To one side of the reception is the Long Bar, a draw for many during the drinking, socialising hours of the week. It has a purity of concept that is attractive and admirable, being simply an oblong in the centre of a room, dramatically lit and surrounded by high, white bar chairs, each with a large eye on the back. That’s it. But then, what else do you need?
To the other side is the Purple Bar, a darkly inviting area where resident hotel guests can drink in a very different atmosphere. And, next door to that, is the snooker room with a table designed by Philippe Starck set against the backdrop of a huge stained glass window. And, should you desire a little curio as a souvenir of your stay, there is an inviting nook of a shop providing just that. This is a boutique hotel, make no mistake.
The fun continues on the journey to the room: the lifts have a hologram-effect sky full of planets covering their every surface and the corridor is mysteriously dark with rooms identified by a single illuminated floor panel by each door, bearing the number.
Mr room overlooked the hotel’s courtyard, a hidden square in the busy shopping heart of our capital city where tables, heaters and garden parasols make it a busy outdoor restaurant space even in the autumn months.
The room was an attractive blend of whites and silver, uncluttered and beautifully designed.
A glass wall dressed with only a sheer voile curtain separated bathroom and bedrooms but, before panic set in, I discovered the button that activated an opaque baby-pink curtain which could be used to completely separate bathroom and bedroom.
The bed was enormous, a white sleigh bed decorated, in the style of a boutique hotel, with a pretty scarf artfully folded across it. In one corner was a giant egg sculpture, at the back two Philippe Starck hand weights. There was only one painting, a landscape, and it was attached to the ceiling, all the better to study it from a prone position.
Storage at first seemed limited, but had been cleverly built into the spaces under the windows overlooking the courtyard, so as to enhance the no-clutter look.
With such a prime central location it made sense to shop and so we did.
But the next night, after a day of shopping around Oxford Street, Soho and Carnaby Street, as well as a visit to the British Museum, the occasion demanded a restaurant meal, so we made our way to Asia de Cuba in St Martins Lane Hotel.
This is a fun, high-energy restaurant serving a mix of Asian and Cuban food as the name suggests. It is making a name for itself in the London eating scene and the restaurant was full and buzzing.
Everyone to whom we mentioned our destination had a recommendation, including a member of the staff at Sanderson who used to work at Asia de Cuba. The Calamari salad came up most often, so we tried it. It’s a huge dish meant for sharing and has all manner of ingredients in their including banana, but it definitely works.
After that we shared a dish of Cuban chicken glazed with a thick, savoury sauce, and for deserts could only opt for the Bay of Pigs - a spectacular mix of chocolate brownies, ice cream, marshmallow and crunchy biscuit.
Next day we wandered around the Sunday morning streets of Soho, drinking tea at a pavement cafe and taking in the world before a smooth train journey back from Kings Cross to Leeds. A stylish time had been had.