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Food Hotel: Hotel Verta at The London Heliport

Bridges Court Road, Battersea, London, SW11 3BE
020 7978 9881
Cuisine: European
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If you're booked in at Hotel Verta, billed as 'London's Vertical Gateway', best to arrive by helicopter.
 
But for a blanket of fog, my room would boast a sensational river view. The South Bank couldn't be nearer but, what with the grey afternoon and the October chill, we're more than happy to hole up in our olive-and-chocolate enclave for a while.
 
The room's colour scheme and use of luxe fabrics (suede, chenille, silk) make for a high-end hideaway with a nicely masculine feel, reminiscent of a 1930's aviation club. I'm particularly taken with a piece of artwork on the wall, full of paper planes hewn from South London map pages.  
 
Time to hit the gym- or, in reality, the thermal pool, steam room and saunas. From what we can see through the doors, the Techogym's exceptionally well equipped... But water heated to a pleasing 32 degrees beckons. Not, perhaps, ideal for doing lengths, but rather nice to luxuriate in, especially when perched in a submerged seat with water jets in full flow.  
 
Don't skip the showers. 'Tropical storm' is a scorchingly hot deluge, whilst 'ice rain', scented with mint, is nowhere near as painful as it sounds. My personal favourite is the Knipp waterfall shower, cranked up high to work out muscular tension- the next best thing to a massage in the attached spa. Feeling pleasantly pummelled, it's back to the room for more water-based antics- this time, reclining in the bath with Friends... On the flat screen TV, that is.
 
Dinner is at Patrisey, Neal Dove's ground-floor restaurant. And he's an affable young chap who earned his stripes at Cliveden.
 
The decor's simple, clean lines betray nothing about Dove's cuisine. Using seasonal produce, the menu features local ingredients as much as possible- including honey from Battersea. Parmesan custard and a goats' cheese souffle set the bar high- really high. The appearance of hazelnut praline on the souffle is a flash of sheer brilliance.  
 
And it's no fluke. Dove's cooking is brilliantly thought through; every ingredient is there for a reason and portion sizes leave you replete yet hankering for one more taste. I'd have preferred salted butter for the bread but when dinner's this good the bread basket's just greedy.
 
Mains of halibut and calves' liver are accompanied by a Crianza rioja recommended by the supremely knowledgeable supervisor, Laurent. My fish swims in a brown shrimp butter as rich as lacquer, offset by the ferrous tang of spinach. That liver, meanwhile, is served with soft polenta, bacon and, in yet another Dove masterstroke, capers.  
 
I'm almost tempted to skip dessert- not willing to risk a dish that might shatter my impressions thus far. But as 'Lady Astor's sherry trifle' arrives, I'm glad I didn't. Laurent tells me this is the owner's favourite, and I have to concur. From the piped cream to the well-judged alcohol, it's a retro triumph. As is a panna cotta flavoured with that Battersea honey, accompanied by cubes of blackberry jelly tasting more intense than any blackberry has the right to. Bliss.  
 
So to bed. Sadly, recent heliport landees Obama and Tom Cruise fail to materialise. Replete with good food, good wine and good cheer, we'd have made the perfect hosts. But it's just us, so, with cups of tea in hand and a late night film on the TV, we sink into bed beneath lush deep green blankets. And awake to a bright morning, a river view, and a helicopter landing.
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