The Dixon — London, UK
Over a century after it first opened as a Magistrate’s Court, the Grade II listed building on London’s Tooley Street, has been given a new lease of life as The Dixon.
Architecture firm Consarc Design Group has been careful to restore and preserve the original features of the 1905 Edwardian Baroque pile, while Rani Ahluwalia of M Studio London along with Twenty2degrees has worked to layer the building with modern touches that subtly reference the building’s history.
And so, a 20ft beaded-glass chandelier, that on closer inspection, is made up of tiny handcuffs, takes centre stage in the lobby; original benches etched by former prisoners have been dipped in metal and exhibited as art; the original cell keys are displayed as a feature wall; surrealist interpretations of famous faces from Charlie Chaplin to George Orwell line the walls; and mugshots of previous petty criminals are displayed in the former courtroom, which is now the bar.
Here, against a backdrop of original Edwardian oak panels, perch at the sunken marble bar beneath the judge’s original canopy and sip on a preprandial negroni before heading next door to Provisioners, the latest offering from restaurateur Clive Watson of London favourites, Blixen and Lorne.
Designed by Twenty2degrees, the all-day dining space takes its cues from European café culture with a nod to the Bauhaus era – with minimal, linear and geometrical shapes in clean, bold colours – and British industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange, who gifted work from his personal notebook that now hangs on the walls. A lively backdrop then to enjoy the modern European menu filled with comfort dishes such as the hot brie balls served with a sweet gooseberry and chilli dip, or the the tender lamb shoulder with sun-dried tomato, courgettes and a lemon and anchovy sauce.
Upstairs, the 193 rooms – split between the original building and a newly built addition – are inviting cocoons dressed in a contemporary palette of sobering greys, bright yellows and blues, blackened steel and beehive tiles in the bathrooms, which together, makes it the perfect bolthole to come back to after exploring nearby sites like Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. Before you head out, make sure to grab a coffee to go from the restaurant’s adjoining café, which serves delicious small bites from cakes to toasted sandwiches alongside the hotel’s own branded coffee called Shakedown. §