In conversation with The Sunborn London, the capital’s only superyacht hotel

We meet Francisco Ventura, General Manager, Sunborn Yacht London

The Sunborn Yacht presents a unique offering in the London hotel landscape. The 138-bedroom superyacht is an impressive and stylish addition to the East London skyline. Set against the backdrop of the Royal Victoria Docks, you would be forgiven for thinking the 394ft, four-star, five-storey superyacht would be better suited moored in the playgrounds of the rich and famous off of the Cote D’Azur or some exotic Caribbean island.

Francisco Ventura, General Manager

Instead, it is moored in a peaceful yet well-connected corner of the capital. Keen to find out more about London’s ‘floating hotel’, we spoke to General Manager Francisco Ventura about the history of Sunborn Yacht London, what guests can expect, and what makes a stay on this luxurious yacht so memorable. 

Francisco, firstly, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. We are delighted to welcome you as a member of the Elegant Hotel Collection. To the uninitiated, East London seems an unlikely natural home for a superyacht. For those unfamiliar with the hotel or the concept, tell us a little about what they can expect.

Thank you. Yes, I can see how the idea of a superyacht in any capital city is a hard concept to grasp, but it’s a concept that, although groundbreaking at inception, has proven to work very well. In addition to being a superyacht, the Sunborn London is a 138-bedroom hotel offering exclusive hotel accommodation, restaurants, and event spaces ideal for those looking to combine the prestige associated with staying on a luxury yacht with a modern self-contained hotel. 

We are hugely proud that given the diversity of accommodation offerings within the city, as London’s only superyacht hotel, we still offer something unique to our guests. 

The Sunborn Yacht London moored at sunset
Sunborn Yacht London

Who is your typical guest? 

Well, guests stay with us for a variety of reasons. Given the unique nature of the hotel, we are very popular with those looking to celebrate a special occasion – birthdays, anniversaries, marriage proposals. At sunset, the view over the water is quite magical and for that reason, we attract a lot of people looking to celebrate something special. Also, given our quiet location, we are a popular choice for those looking to enjoy a peaceful stay in London away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Our proximity to transport links, minutes from the DLR and now with easy access to the Elizabeth Line, means that our guests can enjoy the peace and quiet of our surroundings and yet be in the heart of the capital in less than 20 minutes. We are also conveniently located for those flying in and out of London City Airport. And, of course, we are close to Canary Wharf, London’s financial hub, whose skyline provides a breathtaking backdrop.

What does the Sunborn Yacht London offer that other London hotels don’t?

Apart from the location, which speaks for itself, guests love the space they get when they stay with us—rooms average 27 square metres which is large for London. And half of the rooms obviously look out onto water so that is a unique offering in itself. We were popular when travel restrictions were in place over the pandemic as people who normally holidayed overseas looked for something a bit different closer to home and could enjoy the experience of staying on a superyacht surrounded by water. 

Where did the idea for a ‘floating hotel’ come from? 

The original idea came about as a solution to the need for more rooms for a resort hotel in Finland. Land was a premium, but the hotel was close to a body of water, so using this presented an innovative and practical solution to the need for more space. The original London yacht, Princess I, was completed in 2000 and came to London in 2002 presenting a groundbreaking addition to the capital’s portfolio of hotels. After the success of Princess I, we upgraded in 2014 to a larger, 2nd generation yacht hotel, Princess II, with 138 guest rooms, improved facilities and larger hospitality and events spaces.

Have you noticed a shift in what customers are looking for from their stay and how have you looked to accommodate this?

Guest demands from hotels are always evolving, and as a sector, we need to work hard to meet and exceed them and stay ahead of the curve. For us here, a great focus has been on how we can best use technology to improve the guest experience. We don’t want to completely digitize the guest experience as we are in the business of hospitality, and we need to ensure we offer that human connection to our guests. But we believe there are great benefits to be had by leveraging technology to enhance the guest experience by removing some of the more administrative tasks from check-in in, for example, so our staff can focus on service. We don’t want to waste guests’ precious time on arrival at the hotel with administrative tasks and procedures. 

What are you most proud of with the Sunborn London?

Well, without a doubt, how we supported Covid efforts over the pandemic. We remained open throughout and provided rooms for all those working at the Nightingale Hospital, housed in the Excel Convention Centre. It was a scary time for all but I am exceptionally proud of how our team supported Covid efforts. 

Sunborn Yacht London

Can you share any plans for future developments for the concept of ‘floating hotels’?

Given our success and the increased demand for luxury travel, we are naturally looking at expansion. We currently have this hotel and a sister property in Gibraltar. But we have been given planning permission for the new Sunborn London, our 4th generation yacht hotel, our biggest and most advanced yacht hotel to date, with 225 guest rooms, a 200-seat restaurant, and more extensive leisure and event facilities. And, of course, the new Sunborn London will also be a carbon-zero yacht hotel through its sustainable design and use of energy-efficient materials, smart glazing, and thermal heat exchange systems. We also have our sights set on North America- watch this space!


And finally, is there anything people should know about staying on a luxury superyacht?

I would like to reassure our guests. Even though we are moored on water, we don’t move, so everything is very stable, and there is no risk of seasickness for our guests!

View the unique Yacht Hotel

sunborn LONDON