Hotel Review: Karma Sanctum Soho, 20 Warwick St in London
Unleash your inner rock star in this former MI5 research building, luxury travel writer Nick Constance gets a Triple A pass.
A skip away from Piccadilly Circus, a revamped Karma Sanctum (formerly Sanctum Soho) has all the ingredients for a fun, relaxing stay.
Built around humour and irreverence rather than a slavish devotion to style and design, Karma Sanctum makes quite a statement.
Out go beige carpets and bland corridors, in come some rather cheeky fabrics such as Faux crocodile-skin chairs, studded leather banquettes and ‘diamond’ encrusted door handles.
Spanning two knocked-together townhouses, this stylish hotel is the vision of maverick nightclub owner-cum-hotelier Mark Fuller. His business partner Andy Taylor, (Sanctum Hospitality Group,) is also a big noise in the music bizz, so it’s safe to say the project has more than a bit of rock and roll pedigree.
In August 2016, Karma group and Sanctum Hotel Group merged with the sole aim of creating a series of rock-themed hotels in locations around the world.
“We want Karma Sanctum to be seen as a Rock and Roll hotel but with a twist of health and wellbeing,” says Business Development Mananger Sherene Lawrence.
You might think these two things are diametrically apposed, but not here in Karmaland. The hotel will soon be offering guests a space to reboot, a phone-free zone in which to recalibrate the brain. Karma Yoga is coming.
Room at the top
The hotel offers 30 rooms across four floors, including 8 ‘crash pads’, 4 Suites, 3 Junior Suites and 2 Loft Suites all decked out with the highest-calibre furnishings.
Four distinct colour themes can be found across individual rooms, from mannish browns, to shimmering silver, pastel pinks and intense exotic violets. Being a confirmed minimalist this bohemian opulence is too much for my taste but – in this setting – it works.
Hotels are now paying more attention to gadgets and Karma Sanctum is no different. Games consoles and fit boards, iPod docking stations and entertainment systems are all part of your stay.
There are also a few muso-friendly touches such as guitars and amps on the room-service menu. They’ll even tune the guitars, if you’re a musical doofus like me.
Eat to the beat
Back down-stairs, the hedonistic air prevails in the Wild Heart restaurant. Continuing with the rock-theme, there’s an array of arty skulls dotted around and a collection of framed photos of film and rock aristocracy lining the walls.
Unsure of what to expect from the Wild Heart menu, we were pleasantly surprised by the unfussy British fare on offer. Chef James Catchcart certainly knows how to rustle up a dish.
Two starters – Mozzarella, Avocado and Balsamic Caviar and Grilled Asparagus with poached egg – got the party started, deliciously. (£8.50, £8.95.)
Also tasty was the Roasted Salmon with Lime Potato mash (£17.95.) I’m reliably informed the Rump of Lamb – with Artichokes and Broad beans – was equally delicious. (£18.95.) Generous portions were chased down with a bottle of perfectly quaffable Pinot Grigio.
This mini feast was rounded off with a perky lemon tart and – thanks to our delightful host, Emily – I had my first ever Matcha Latte, which I’m now becoming dangerously addicted to. This is the heroin of Green Tea, apparently.
Raising the bar
One of Sanctum’s secret weapons is the intimate Roof Terrace tucked away on the 5th floor. This open-plan space consists of a bar, a covered lounge, a terrace and a cherry-on-the-top Jacuzzi. Open 24/7, it’s the perfect setting for a cocktail party, or a private event. It’s also a great escape from the heaving streets of London. (Open to non-guests.)
The hotel’s bars and restaurant are already legendary, but additional facilities such as a private screening room for 50 people, pop-up tattoo parlour and pop-up recording studio are being added.
Great location, no silly house-rules, super-swagged out rooms, hearty food, a cinema, a roof bar and the friendliest staff ever. Happy days.
If you’re in bed by 10 O’clock, those thumping parties could be a tad bothersome. Also, don’t be surprised if you’re charged for trashing your room, or throwing TV’s out of the window.
I wouldn’t call Karma Sanctum “cool’, but it really doesn’t care. The theme is edgy glamour with a free-spirited flick of punk.
Karma Sanctum is, in essence, a defiant riposte to the normally buttoned-up world of hospitality. Perhaps I could offer them a motto.…“Let All The Children Boogie”.
Address: 20 Warwick St, Soho, London W1B 5NF
Phone: 020 7292 6100