Across the road from the boutiques of Marylebone, Regent’s Park in a leg-stretching range and right by Madame Tussauds, the London Planetarium, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, The Landmark London is assuredly well-positioned. It’s bang opposite Marylebone railway station (‘Great Central Station’ as it was) which serves the Chilterns area and is directly linked to the hotel by an original iron canopy. This stunning Victorian edifice of red brick with a clock tower and turrets was built originally as a railway hotel. After converting into a convalescent home in WW1 and being used for Intelligence in WW2, it returned as a hotel. Recently refurbished, the rooms felt brand new and refreshing with beautiful finishing.
A doorman in his top hat and cape ushered me inside past the wood-paneled reception into a hall bedecked with carpets, artwork, mirrors, and chandeliers, living up to the hotel’s claim as “an ocean of luxury in the heart of London.” And this was before stepping into the soul of the hotel, the vast centerpiece of the atrium. Around the clock, people come for afternoon tea, dinner, or drinks and are soothed by either the harp or grand piano. The experience is dramatic and majestic in equal measure.
This experience left me with a sense of wonder and transported me to another continent, one glamorous and warmer with eight gleaming pine trees. The trees, lit day and night for further prominence, were protected by a glass rooftop. The space was reminiscent of a botanical garden or grand museum; this is the famous Winter Garden.
This expansive space stretches many stories with lush dripping foliage, black iron railings, and bedroom windows amongst white stoned walls that peer out, resembling the exterior of houses. A unique play on the idea of ‘indoors-outdoors.’ Below them are boutique concessions and a hair and beauty salon. On the lower gallery, beneath the marbled archways and long corridors, and beside the Winter Garden are two of the largest ballrooms I have seen in London.
Of the 300 rooms, with a starting price of £429, my family room was spacious, tasteful, and luxurious and felt reassuringly classic in style with its textured wallpaper, crystal lamps, and large gold curtains drawn to let the light beams across the room. My bathroom had a grey marble floor, a vast vanity mirror above a black marble double basin, and a wonderful tub equipped with White Company products.
At night a double-sized central curved staircase led me with great theatricality down to the Winter Garden Restaurant, which takes up the atrium’s floor and is clearly a place for a treat with three birthdays celebrated in turn by the pianist. I sat amongst the banana plants and palm fronds. I chose from my menu of modern European classics a course of Cornish white crab meat and roasted breast of maize-fed chicken, all paired with a glass of Morcassi Superiore Tuffo. I finished with Valrhona chocolate cremaux with hazelnut sponge and red currant sorbet. As for a hotel breakfast, one measure of its class can be judged by the fruit on offer each month. In January, there were tropical fruits galore, including passion fruit and purple dragon fruit.
The Garden Terrace is one floor up. Dotted amongst the display cabinets of ancient curios of pipes and teaspoons are cozy spots to take coffee, have meetings, or simply look up and admire the interior’s vast proportions. In the basement, there’s a dark, moody Great Central Pub offering pub food, and across the building, the Mirror Bar, decked in silvery blue and soft greys, is a small, snug ‘moonlight bar.’ The perfect place to retire and enjoy a nightcap or a pre-prandial cocktail.
The hotel certainly has a great basement wellness area. Beyond the gym and the relaxation and treatment rooms, there’s a heated indoor pool (twenty strokes long) with a jacuzzi and a solarium (a variant of the traditional Finnish sauna). The room has simple clear-cut lines and felt like a sanctuary emitting a zen-like tranquillity of a cross between Scandinavian and Japanese. And best of all, the water is free from chlorine.
The hotel’s ambiance is elegant and classy thanks to the international clientele, the pianist, and the willing servers. It’s reasonably priced and well-tailored for children, with kids’ menus, a toy library, and a swimming pool. Transported as I was in this hotel meant I didn’t hear or think about the outside world: the truest of cocoons within the most stunning of dimensions.