If you’re looking for romance, beautiful scenery and atmospheric castles, the Scottish Highlands is the place to go
I woke early to find London spread out before me. The floor-to-ceiling window of our room on the 30th floor at the Novotel London Canary Wharf framed a scene I will never forget - the British capital, a tad hazy with a full moon setting over the cityscape as dawn began to break.
I'd wondered whether staying a little away from the centre of the city might be a stretch but this stunning new hotel (it had opened mere months before our stay in late November) is in an area that is increasingly vibrant, and from which the rest of London is easily accessible. There's a Tube station nearby and the Docklands Light Rail is also handy. Being near the Thames means ferries are an option and you should take the opportunity of catching one because it?s a great way to see London.
This 39-storey Accor hotel has 313 rooms, 26 individually designed suites, a compact gym and pool, nine meeting rooms - their names inspired by the goods once brought into the docks nearby - a great coffee shop on the ground floor, and a contemporary restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace.
As a vertigo sufferer it took me a few days to get used to the elevation, and the hotel's upper floors offer 360-degree views across the city.
Canary Wharf itself is a busy business precinct with the towering One Canada Square nearby. To service the business community and local residents there are excellent shopping and amenities here and on the walk to the Tube we found some very funky waterside food trucks, which we frequented during our stay.
The hotel began to feel like home after a few days with friendly staff, brilliant service and a general manager, Philip Logan, who is an Aussie. We met him by chance in the lift after breakfast and had a brief chat. His parents live at Indooroopilly in westside Brisbane, he told us. Small world.
The hotel references the maritime history of this area with exposed bricks, brass lamps, rough wood walls, copper piping and chairs made of rustic sacking. The meeting rooms continue the story, with the East India Room featuring a rope settee. The goods from these places used to come into this port area and, being on the Thames, there are still working docks nearby.
The hotel is crowned by three levels of Bokan (Anglo-Saxon for lighthouse) - Bokan 37 Restaurant, Bokan 38 Bar and Bokan 39 Bar and Roof Terrace. You have breakfast up there too and it's a wonderful way to start the day, looking out over the city. In the kitchen you'll find chef Aurelie Altemaire, formerly head chef at Michelin-starred L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at Covent Garden. She delivers an excellent menu of "precisely executed yet relaxed modern European dishes" with historical and traditional English roots - chestnut soup, Scottish venison carpaccio, poached Dover sole, British black pudding and other elements.
Fusing London's Docklands heritage with industrial design, this glass skyscraper hotel is a stunning place to rest your head in the British capital.
with PHIL BROWN
Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail
40 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9TP
Rooms from $277 per night
Ph (+44) 020 3530 0500
Copyright © Phil Brown