Why I had the best sleep of my life at the Hilton in Bankside

The Hilton Bankside is not your usual Hilton hotel experience
The Hilton Bankside is not your usual Hilton hotel experience Credit: Beppe Raso/ Lema Spa and Beppe Raso Photographer

In America, writers close to deadline would check into a hotel for the day to sit and write, undisturbed. Well, the Americans I met did anyway. Nothing too fancy, but still expensive enough for me to wonder why on earth someone would do that when they could take their laptop anywhere. Puzzled by the notion, I decided to test this out myself with a night at the Hilton in Bankside. 

When I opened the doors to the sixth floor suite, I realised why they do this. It's a neutral place free from distraction, where you can't procrastinate by cleaning (it's spotless), cooking (there's a restaurant downstairs) or anything else, because everything is in impeccable order.

The magazines are fanned to precision on room table, the beds turned down invitingly with slippers waiting at the foot and the room is handsome enough to appreciate, but lit like a moody storm is brewing and not distracting. It's business-like wooden panels make for an environment which suggests guests get things done here, efficiently. You can even go the toilet efficiently because there's two toilets and so not a minute is wasted walking to the one furthest away. 

A room at the Hilton Southbank

It was a smart, sharp room, like a meticulously ironed shirt. With a few upgrades: the view south of the river of glittering buildings was comforting and as I slipped into the bathroom for a soak to clear my head, there was a circular button which I turned to find a Bose speaker in the ceiling begin to play music in crystal clear quality. How very serene.

After a quick refresh, I settled into my work and a few hours slipped away. It's extraordinarily quiet up here considering its location and time passed me by - it was time to venture out for food to my 8pm restaurant reservation at OXBO downstairs. There's little not to like about the restaurant, whose little details truly reflect the Bankside London area, right from its choice of local artwork through to its use of honey produced from the beehive on the hotel rooftop. 

The modern bathrooms in the Hilton


I opt for a reviving roosted beetroot with Cornish yarg to start along with a crisp wine selected by the sommelier who astutely pairs up my courses with wine. This is followed by a winter vegetable torte which are the perfect flavours like pumpkin puree for a blisteringly cold evening. The dessert by far outshines the rest of the menu, a stack of cooked apple rings with ice cream, the perfect crumble which the friendly staff help me pick. 

The Oxbo, where breakfast is served. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner throughout the day


If you're not dining, there is of course the handsome Distillery Bar in the hotel, formerly an essence factory during the 1800s. Stevenson & Howell focused on fragrance in the Victorian age and holding onto that legacy, the bar created its menu with glorious infusions to choose from. It's modern in here, not your usual Hilton, but a real homage to the Bankside area, not least because one wall is covered in pennies, nodding to the rumour that the building used to be a warehouse for the Bank of England's coins. 

The Distillery, named after its heritage and staying true to its roots, producing a range of drinks and mixers

As the sun set on that glorious part of the city, I returned to the suite for a nightcap which room service gladly provided and planned on finishing off some more work. Someone had drawn the curtains and prepared the room for a night of dozing, so I slipped into the  bed to try it out and before I knew it, was fast asleep. And didn't stir until the following morning, when I sprinted to a grand selection of breakfast choices.

Fancy a swim? The hotel has this beautifully serene room for guests to go for a dip

It was the best sleep I've had. The kind where you wake up and spring out of bed, where you don't even remember stirring because not a sound can be heard in the dark, cosily toasty room. The pillows were plump and the kind you sink into and the heavy covers were comforting. 

I'll be back - not just for the glorious breakfast fit for Kings, or the spectacularly immaculate room, but for the sleep of dreams.