Photo Credit: Photographer Paul Winch-Furness

Marriott’s upscale Autograph Collection brand has opened a hotel in a former London Magistrates’ Court and police station. Emma Smith visits The Dixon in the heart of SE1.

Standing in the shadow of The Shard, Tower Bridge and just steps from The Thames, The Dixon is a handsome Grade II listed red brick building that served as a Magistrates Court and Police Station from 1905 to 2013. It’s now been converted into a chic 193 room hotel on Tooley Street. Named after John Dixon Butler, the building’s original architect, art plays a prominent role with a rather tongue in cheek homage to the building’s location and past along with the work of many contemporary artists.

As soon as you enter the hotel your eyes are drawn to the massive shimmering chandelier in the reception hall which features glass handcuffs and the walls which are embedded with original cell keys within the building’s original wood panelling and dramatic staircase. The design brief- to reflect life in SE1- both past and present has certainly been achieved.

The Courtroom Bar is a real winner- I loved the clever adaptation of the space with a sunken bar where once the judges sat. On the walls original black and white mugshots of prisoners who once stood in the dock are modernised with a single vivid flower in their lapel. Along the corridor there are fabulous photographs of George Orwell and Charlie Chaplin, both former SE1 residents, with the 21st Century addition of colour-packed floral jackets. The all day restaurant- The Provisioners-has the footprint of the original 20 holding cells marked on the floor and features an impressive interior- black and white floors, curving low chairs and pastel pink booths under a candy-stripe ceiling. The menu is full of flavour and features some very generous sized portions.

So what about the actual bedrooms? Rooms are either in the original building and feature high ceilings and Edwardian mouldings or in a new extension with contemporary furnishings in brighter colours. All rooms are well stocked with minibars and generous toiletries, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities and water. There are ironing boards, safes and excellent WIFI throughout the hotel. Five categories stretch from Guest Rooms up to The Orwell Suite. Some rooms have views to Tower Bridge while The Orwell Suite has a good view of The Shard.

The Dixon scores 10 out of 10 for its wonderful location and is a great place for couples and families to stay due to its informal atmosphere. It is a real unique take on the boutique hotel experience, offering guests a neighbourhood feel in the heart of the capital.

The Dixon, 211 Tooley Street SE1 2JX,

Double rooms start from £199 with The Orwell Suite from £500 .

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