For me, a trip to Marylebone on a Friday night usually entails navigating crowds of commuters and grabbing an overpriced sandwich before cramming myself onto an oversubscribed train. Not last Friday though, instead I swapped London’s busiest railway stations for one of its most luxurious hotels.
The Landmark London is situated mere metres away from the station and slap bang on the Marylebone road (one of the most polluted in the UK apparently), but all this seems a million miles away once you step into the polished foyer of the Landmark. What strikes you first is the sheer size of the building – built around a courtyard and even sporting its own clock tower, a cosy, boutique hotel this is not (there are 300 bedrooms)– and then there’s the quiet, all the more amazing considering the hotel’s noisy neighbours (Madam Tussauds and the London Zoo).
After negotiating a maze of corridors in varying shades of beige, we arrived at our home for the night, The Great Central Suite. It’s so-named because of the hotel originally opened in 1899 as The Great Central Hotel and is one of the last great Victorian railway hotels.
Made up of a bedroom, sitting room and a bathroom the size of a train carriage, it is a suite made for living in, not just a bed to spend the night in. The décor was muted and calming – all caramels and burgundy – and the little details, such as the old-fashioned telephones and suitcases carried on the railway theme and made me feel as if I were in an Agatha Christie novel, Death on the Orient Express perhaps? Plus, I couldn’t help but get a thrill looking out of my sumptuous suite and onto Marylebone Station’s hectic concourse below.
There are a number of dining options at the Landmark – from the sumptuous Mirror Bar to the chic TwoTwentyTwo restaurant – but we had a reservation in the Winter Garden. Situated underneath a cavernous glass-roof atrium, the restaurant is undeniably impressive, although its eight-storey size makes it rather lacking in intimacy. The palm trees flanking the tables give the impression of warmer climes (a lot of the guests are apparently from the Middle East) but the menu is very British, made up of Scottish salmon, Welsh lamb and even a retro prawn cocktail. Although the ingredients were high-quality, the dishes themselves were slightly unimaginative in their execution and I couldn’t help but think of the sheer variety of restaurants that London has to offer, just outside the hotel’s doors. The tinkling of the live piano and the faultless service made up for our unadventurous food though, and created a lovely relaxing atmosphere (helped by the lychee martinis).
Overall, we had a lovely stay at the Landmark London, for the discerning Londoner it may be slightly lacking in personality and charm, but for the weary traveller and wedding party (of which there seemed to be quite a few) it offers an oasis of calm and comfort – not to mention convenience with its central location. It certainly was a shock to walk out of its doors and join the throng once again.