Arriving by helicopter? This big, stylish Art Deco-influenced hotel boasts excellent proximity to the London Heliport, though unfortunately little else, with doubles starting at £139 (or $220, at $1.58 to the pound).
Imagine the frustration. You have embarked from your private jet at Heathrow, the limousine has chauffeured you to the chopper and now you are flying across London, and writhing angrily in your leather seat because you can’t find a single crash pad with its own helipad. This is where Hotel Verta swoops in. The hotel, which opened last September, seeks to capitalize on its spot next to the London Heliport. Its slogan is “London’s Vertical Gateway,” its address lists satellite navigation coordinates, and the spa features a menu of “jet set” treatments that “can be scheduled during flight.”
Is there a less accessible and interesting part of London than this corner of Battersea (on the southern bank of the Thames)? Other than the helipad, there’s little in the area. The nearest rail link is Clapham Junction (10 minutes away on foot), where you can catch the London Overground.
The Jazz Age and James Bond seem to be the inspirations for the rooms, which have an appealingly Art Deco aesthetic and ample gadgetry. The bed in the room (a superior double) was comfortable, covered with pillows and flanked with a small library, though perhaps “Anna Karenina” should be left only for guests staying six weeks or more, along with a packet of Xanax. The gadgetry included touch-sensitive gooseneck reading lamps by the bed, digital thermostat dials, multibutton lighting controls with presets for various moods and a panel with ports for cables that interface with the TV. (Internet access is £6 an hour or £16 a day.)
The less technical offerings are no less practical, from the large umbrella (suited to London weather) to the fluffy robes and judiciously stocked minibar.
It is compact but sophisticated, with clean lines and cool colors — gray tile, white plaster, a shimmery mosaic floor — and notable brands, from the white Duravit toilet and sink to the toiletries and other products (sewing kit, shoe mitt, manicure set) by Anne Semonin. A touch-screen TV at the end of the deep soaking tub means that you never risk missing your favorite shows, and the phone next to the toilet means you can call for the chopper at any hour. A separate stand-up shower is the icing on the cake.
Where is everybody? During a Wednesday-night visit in spring you could almost hear the wind whistling through the nearly empty Verta bar (which boasts an impressive cocktail list) and Patrisey restaurant, an airy space with a modern British cuisine, extensive wine list and excellent views of the arriving and departing helicopters. The duck egg cooked in duck fat on a toasted brioche with sautéed mushrooms, a jazzed-up take on an English breakfast, is almost worth the hike on its own.
Stranded in a boring London backwater that’s nearly unreachable without helicopter transport, London’s Vertical Gateway — despite elegant rooms, worthy amenities and very solicitous service — might have trouble getting off the ground. Flightless travelers and folks eager to be in the thick of culture, night life and shopping will probably want to land elsewhere.
Hotel Verta, Bridges Wharf, Battersea, London; (44-20) 7801-3500;