One of London’s oldest hotels – having first opened as the Grand Central Hotel in 1899 – the Landmark London is a master in decadent hospitality. As one of the last of London’s original railway hotels (found next to Marylebone Station), it takes its rightful position as one of the city’s grand dames, but whereas the other big-hitters shout luxury, this gem whispers it – and is all the better for doing so.
Yes, the public spaces are grand and imposing. Built in the Gothic Revival style, guests are greeted with black urns tumbling over with blooms, giant marble fireplaces, ornate plasterwork on ceilings, important-looking staircases and oversized chandeliers. But once you are safely ensconced in your room, the ambiance quietens down.
Comfort is key – with rooms being among the largest in town. Your feet will sink into the plush carpets, you’ll read an extra chapter of your book because of the beauty of the crystal lamps and your family will pound on the bathroom door because you are taking too long luxuriating in the marble-encased tub. The tasteful palette is all honeys, powder blues and creams, the drapes are heavy and the sheets are crisp – nothing too exciting, but the thrill factor is not what The Landmark London is about. This hotel is reassuringly cosseting.
Behind the serene façade, there’s a buzz of rejuvenation going on. The hotel’s Ballroom and Grand Ballroom have both been restored and now bedrooms are being renovated in collaboration with design studio Alex Kravetz (not that you’d know it, though, as only a few are being refurbished each month to keep disturbance at a minimum). It goes without saying, that all restoration is being carried out in keeping with the property’s history – with as much emphasis put on the 19th century details and Grade II listed heritage as is possible.
At the heart of the hotel is the spectacular eight-storey atrium, The Winter Garden. This is where most of the hotel’s dining takes place and, as a consequence, there’s a real buzz and energy about it. Afternoon tea is a highlight. Here, among the soaring palm trees, you feel as though you have been transported back to the Victorian era. Gladly, menus are thoroughly modern. Breakfast – with its huge buffet station and a la carte menu – (the Eggs Benedict are among the best in London) – brings in an eclectic crowd.
There are laid-back guests mooching around, business meetings being conducted and groups of chi chi Londoners (seemingly en route to their workplaces in nearby Marylebone) having PR or fashion meetings over their muesli bircher (nothing else endorses a hotel’s breakfast than fashionable Londoners deigning to drop in).
At night the sunny space dims to candlelight and, to the tune of a tinkling piano, dinner becomes a formal affair. The two AA Rosette menu is traditional British with a twist – Scottish Salmon, Cornish Crab Cannelloni and Cepe Mushroom Soup graces the starter menu. For mains, stand out dishes were the Seabass with Heritage Carrots, Romanesco and Dill and Cucumber Velouté and the Roasted Rack of Cumbrian Lamb. If you have room, make sure you order the Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding. It’s Britishness fine-tuned and turned up a notch.
To make your evening a totally glamourous affair – start off with pre-dinner drinks in the Art Deco-styled Mirror Bar. The cocktail list is inventive and full of classics, such as Royal Cassino and Mint Julep. A nice touch, however, is the new alternative list conceived in partnership with Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit. The drinks feature superfoods, such as cactus water, fresh ginger, maca powder and acas powder, and are a thoughtful alternative to fizzy drinks or juice.
For further pampering, make sure you incorporate a stop-off at the subterranean spa. There’s a decent sized pool, surrounded by sauna, steam room and hot tub – to give an invigorating start to the day. Meanwhile, the new Germaine de Capuccini treatments combine natural ingredients with cutting-edge technology.
The Hot Pinda Paradise, a relaxing massage, is the pick of the treatment list. It sounds like it should be offered in a somewhat more exotic locaton than Marylebone, but you’ll soon be transported to the tropics with the blend of oriental flowers, macadamia oil and spices that are used to help you relax.
Best of all, the hotel is superb at catering for families – children get a teddy bear waiting for them on their bed, giant cookies before bed-time and even offers little adventurers a multi-coloured tent to sleep in (why bother with a bed, when you can sleep on the floor?). As I said, it is a national treasure.
Stay at The Landmark London in a Superior Room from £264 per night, or a Family Room from £372 per night, including breakfast. www.landmarklondon.co.uk or call 020 7631 8000.