Formerly Tower Bridge Magistrates Court and police station, this imposing building in London’s SE1 has been reimagined as the Dixon — a new addition to Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
Paying homage to its nefarious past and named after the building’s architect John Dixon Butler, the hotel is sprinkled with lively artwork and subtle nods paying homage to the fact it was once a “palace of justice”.
In the main foyer, an enormous chandelier descends from the ceiling, adorned with crystal handcuffs and the smoke-stained, unpolished marble staircase is another little reminder that countless criminals no doubt frequented these steps to await judgement.
Eager to see our room (or cell) for the night, we were greeted with rays of wonderful natural sunlight in our suite. The building’s stern history gradually gave way to a relaxed atmosphere — though granted this could have been down to the complimentary bottle of Malbec and the wonderfully spacious bath. The hotel is wonderfully located for any jaunts into town and nearby South Bank but while inside, your room will be a cosy hideaway.
Dining in the court chamber itself was a thrillingly foreboding affair. Seated at the bar, pictures of rascals gone by peer over your shoulder and the mood in the space sort of makes sure you behave yourself. The fare though was anything but punishing though and sentenced me to a very comfortable night’s sleep. We recommend the creamy burrata and the house steak.
The former judge’s bench has been transformed into a fully stocked cocktail bar and it was easy to forget that until 2013 this was still a functioning courtroom.
Despite framed mugshots of ex-convicts gazing down upon us as we ate, we were more than relaxed. In some ways, it felt like an “experience supper” and we expected the serving staff to emerge in some sort of costume and perform a themed skit.
Breakfast is served in the old police station part of the building called Provisioners – markers on the floor even show the claustrophobic outlines of the holding cells after being booked in. The hotel and its staff were well versed in abiding by Covid guidelines – this meant a breakfast buffet was not an option for us but a Full English more than sufficed and was washed down with the in house coffee blend ‘Shakedown’. I was set up for the day and our stay at this unique hotel was complete.
Just 100 yards down the road from Tower Bridge the Dixon is perfectly located in a part of London that always reminds me of Victorian crime and the romantic side of the capital’s dark past — a stone’s throw from where Bill Sykes met his grizzly end and not five minutes walk from the Clink Prison attraction and London Dungeons.
The Dixon offers rooms from standard kings to sumptuous suites, all tastefully decorated in muted tones and boasting spacious, modern bathrooms. It also offers an onsite gym and all modern amenities for the business traveller. So go on, it’s time to hand yourself in…
To book click here. Rooms start at about £255 per night from April 2021.
All images courtesy of The Dixon.
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