Did you know there’s a sprawling school building just by Tower Bridge with a pretty mind-blowing Indian restaurant lurking inside and plush rooms to crash in after?
Well, I had no idea The LaLiT London existed until a friend tipped me off about it and went to investigate.
This boutique hotel is part of an Indian owned luxury chain and the only one outside of India.
It is an impressive venue, housed within a red brick Victorian school building built between 1894 and 1896.
Think high ceilings, large windows, parquet flooring and period wood detailing.
After I finally found the entrance (the building is quite a monster to navigate) I checked in at the informal desk-style reception.
It was a rainy Sunday evening and the dark woods inside gave a cosy feeling.
I was shown to a room on the first floor.
The whole hotel has a school theme and my room was deemed a ‘Senior Classroom’.
The space was perfectly appointed with high ceilings and an eye-catching upholstered headboard adding to its grand appearance.
There were plug sockets by the bed, no usb charger points, but there was a nice desk area with a flatscreen TV.
On the amenity front, the room included a complimentary mini bar, with Green & Black’s chocolate, soda, crisps, cookies and popcorn.
There was no iron, this could be requested from reception, there were towelled robes in the bathroom with Indian inspired toiletries to play with.
There was also a selection of goodies lurking in the marble-topped sink drawer including a dental kit, nail file, sewing kit and razor.
Other highlights of the tiled shower room included underfloor heating, an anti-steam mirror and Toto toilet complete with a heated seat and bidet.
After freshening up I ventured back downstairs to meet a friend in the Teacher’s Room bar.
We took a seat at the marble-topped counter and a friendly barman offered us a drinks menu which was secreted inside an old school book.
A lesson in mixology was on the curriculum for the evening!
There’s a great mix of drinks to pick from, with some of the Indian exotic blends including the Kama Sutra (a bittersweet orange brandy, pineapple and date fix) and the Mumbai Manhattan infused with fennel seeds.
Being somewhat of a traditionalist, I went for a classic martini as recommended by the bartender.
Time ticked on, and we ventured on to our next class… dinner at LaLiT’s Baluchi restaurant.
This eatery is truly stunning, with it located within the former school’s Grand Hall.
We both commented that it looked like the hall in Harry Potter, with an arced wood beamed ceiling and panelled walls.
It was very quiet on a Sunday evening and we practically had the place to ourselves.
The waiting team were friendly and efficient, with a choice of still or sparkling water offered to begin with.
The menu at Baluchi is split into a number of sections including The Beginning Term 1 (starters), Mid-Term Mains and Term Break School Holidays (desserts).
There are also sharing dishes and Indian breads to accompany the meal.
It took us quite a while to pick something as there was a spread of unusual ingredients presented, with everything from pigeon to venison given an Indian twist.
In the end we went for tandoori celeriac to start, along with a mushroom infused dish made up of Kashmiri black morels and white mushrooms topped with a cashew nut crumble.
For mains, the aubergine steak with spiced tofu mince caught my eye, while my friend opted for tandoori prawns with samphire and sautéed spinach.
On the side, the flour bread stuffed with ceps and truffle took our fancy.
We both commented how artfully all of the dishes were presented. A cooking and art class combined in one!
The winning dish for us was the tandoori prawns, with the plump crustaceans brimming with flavour.
The accompanying coconut based moilee sauce was also absolutely divine. Another must-try is the truffle flour bread… our basket was soon gone!
Do leave room for dessert if you can. The pistachio cake comes highly recommended, with a rich taste and moist texture.
The cardamon ice cream also had us battling it out with our spoons.
We both agreed Baluchi was a spot we would return to recommend for its unique interiors and colourful food selection.
Feeling pretty sleepy I ventured up to bed. I slept like an absolute dream with great sound insulation and a soft bed.
There was even one pillow that was ‘soft’ and one that was ‘hard’, to suit all sleeping tastes.
Unfortunately, I had to get up at 5:30am the next morning to make a flight from Gatwick.
I had a peep in a breakfast and it looked like there was a mouthwatering mix of morning treats, with traditional English and Indian options on offer.
The LaLiT London is conveniently located down the road from London Bridge rail station with direct connections to Gatwick airport.
I left the exotic confines of the former school building back into the cold but warmed by the fact I’d discovered this Indian-inspired gem… one to add to the book.
The LaLiT London is located at 181 Tooley St, London SE1 2JR
To book a stay or dining experience call +44 20 3765 0000 or visit www.thelalit.com/the-lalit-london/