It has been a long summer at 1883 HQ in Wimbledon. Producing our current RESET Issue during lockdown meant my daily adventure was limited to a masked-up trip to the local corner shop.
As things have relaxed over the last few weeks, I have finally been able to jump back on the Tube and take advantage of what my home city has to offer.
I thought I knew the area around Tower Bridge pretty well, but as development has increased over the last few years a few undiscovered gems have popped up, no more so than The Dixon hotel. This Grade II-listed building was the Tower Bridge Magistrates’ Court and thankfully due to strict regulations, The Dixon has kept its design concept close to the building’s functional roots.
Walking in, you are welcomed by a grand central staircase leading up to a portrait of the building’s original architect John Dixon Butler. No actual photos exist of the man so a bouquet makes a fine replacement for his head. Looking up, you see a stunning chandelier constructed of 60 Gold Leaf handcuffs. Throughout the corridors you find moulds of graffiti found in the cells revealing names and dates of inmates.
Nowadays the cells have been adapted into a café and cocktail bar, with floor markings showing their former outlines. As a nice touch, they have kept a single cell, with thick metal doors, locks and all, adapting it into The Dixon’s very own Shakedown Coffee Lab.
I finally settled in the Courtroom Bar for the rest of the evening to set up for my Instagram Live interview with US alt-rock band OK Go. While sipping on my two cocktails, I took the chance to take in the architect’s transformation of the space. This was the room where sentences were dealt for crimes ranging from public violence to simply being homeless. The frame of the judge’s original bench up at the front serves as a constant reminder of the past while hanging on the oakwood panelled walls are mugshots of former ‘guests’ from a not too distant era.
After my chat with OK Go was done and dusted, I was given a quick tour of the 14 suites in the original building, each with high ceilings, fireplaces, and king-sized beds. Although most of The Dixon’s 193 rooms are in the modern extension at the back with views of the River Thames and looking down on the new developments which have transformed the area.
Marriott International has done a great job of creating a narrative for The Dixon with a real sense of history. A launchpad for taking in some of the more unusual sites nearby. Be it The Clink Prison Museum or the streets of Butler’s Wharf where ships used to unload when London was the world’s largest port. At a time when international travel is limited, The Dixon offers a great alternative to rediscover this rapidly changing part of the city.
The Dixon is also launching Borough Market picnic baskets to champion the local neighbourhood. Look out for updates on their socials/website soon.
For bookings, visit www.thedixon.co.uk
words by Jay Mitchell