Although Sanctum is well positioned for the nightlife, bars and restaurants of Soho, it is actually in a relatively quiet part of this lively district, surrounded by office blocks. It’s also set back just a narrow block from the shops of Regent Street and roughly halfway between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, both of which have Underground stations.
In the rooms, colour schemes range from the pure kitsch of naughty-girl boudoir pinks to a more sober art deco, accompanied by paintings of the Soho demi-monde. My preference is the latter, but there probably isn’t much point staying here at all if you’ve a low tolerance for tacky glamour: diamante door-handles and multiple mirrors are everywhere, and a few round beds might provide an extra frisson for those in the mood - although there were problems with the rotator mechanisms when I was last in. The wet rooms also seem not to drain especially well. Entertain yourself with your in-room Wii, iPod dock and countless TV channels, or a bottle of Jack Daniels from a mini-bar that’s like a proper cocktail cabinet.
The reception area is dark, rather handsome and, given the attitude of the rest of the hotel, looks surprisingly sober, with copies of house newspaper the International Herald Tribune lying around. The lift is operated by your key, so only your own floor and the rooftop bar and hot tub are accessible.
Eating and drinking
The good-looking ground-floor bar-restaurant, No.20, serves good brasserie fare - plus a hangover-killing Soho breakfast (£18.50) that includes morning bubble-and-squeak made out of the previous dinner’s leftovers. Just off the small roof terrace with its open-air hot tub sits is a tiny 24-hour guest bar. It feels more of a lounge than a bar, with comfy furniture to relax on and games to idle away the evening, but does indeed serve round the clock - buzz for service if there’s no one at the counter. The 24-hour room service shoots high: fancy 30g of Sevruga caviar, with toast or blinis and soured cream, and a mimosa (£75 + 15% ‘discretionary’ service)? I suspect the corned beef hash with fried egg (£9.50) and eight varieties of tea (£5 a pot) will be getting more takers.
Fuller declared on opening Sanctum that boring hotels were the enemy. The open-air six-person hot tub on the small roof terrace is his most eye-catching attack on that. I wonder how long the rules for use (bathing costumes must be worn, no ‘medication’ allowed while in the tub) will hold up if it gets filled with amped-up celebs? The entertainment continues in the rooms with a Wii and iPod dock, while electric guitars and practice amps are kept in a cupboard behind reception and you can arrange to hire a Harley-Davidson motorbike. There’s also a 1930s-style 45-seat cinema with four-metre screen downstairs.
Sticking to the ‘no questions asked’ policy may be the only thing the staff are strict about - service sometimes confuses relaxed with too casual (I wasn't alone in finding the morning paper I’d been offered hadn't arrived, for example). But quibbling about details is missing the point: I’ve no doubt that if you ordered up a bottle of vodka and a bucket of ice at 5am it would arrive on the button.
Who stays there
I'm not convinced there'll be a great deal of star-spangled misbehaviour to rubber neck (although Fuller assured me Peaches Geldoff had been in), but Sanctum is brash enough to be enjoyable with or without celeb-power. One for the young or young-at-heart, though.
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
Pros & Cons
- 24-hour bar and rooftop hot tub
- Wii and multiple TV channels in the rooms
- Patchy service
- Some rooms too kitsch