A venerable hotel in the heart of Marylebone can still serve up the right stuff, says Nick Hammond…
It pleases me to step off the train at Marylebone and appear as if I belong. There’s barely any point in pulling on my gloves, to be honest, despite the frosty chill outside. My destination lies just yards away. I walk purposefully from the station, ignoring the enquiring looks from the cabbies waiting at the ranks outside, cross the cobbled road – and I’m there. A doorman does the business with a welcome tip of his hat and I’m in the serenity of The Landmark London.
While the front of the building is impressive enough with its fluttering flags and splendid clocktower, it’s the inner atrium that, to me, is the hallmark of this hotel. The Winter Garden, to give it its proper moniker, is nothing short of exhilarating, and as I move through towards it from the back of the hotel, all I can small is quality leaf of tea.
This is a good thing.
Formerly the HQ of the London and North East Railway Company and a WWII officer’s hospital (a la Downton Abbey), The Landmark London has a long and distinguished history, dating back to 1894.
It’s long been one of London’s favourite 5-star hotels and it shows. It’s not stuffy and pompous like some; not overly gilded and pampered like others. It strikes just the right note to feel like home from home – but better.
Old world courtesy and service are by no means forgotten though and it’s with suitable politeness that I’m shown round my fourth floor Marylebone Suite.
It’s ideal for a short to medium stay in town; real marble bathroom; living room with suitable amenities; a Nespresso coffee machine and, wonder of wonders, free internet access. So I shortly find myself coffee’d up, on my sofa and catching up with emails while I peruse the room service menu.
The spa and health club is something to behold too, I later discover. A beautiful pool, steam room and specialist treatment rooms are hidden away in the depths of this colossal old building.
My chance to revel in the splendour of the Winter Garden (open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner), comes the next morning when I descend after a suitably refreshing slumber.
One can’t help but gaze skywards at the impressive vaulted glass ceiling away in the roof; the first floor shops, or indeed the curtained windows of further guest rooms. It’s an unusual but thoroughly effective piece of architecture and it never fails to somehow raise the spirits.
This morning my spirits need all the raising they can get; I spent the previous evening carousing until the early hours.
In a flash, a fresh pot of coffee is before me and not many minutes after that a cunning breakfast creation that might just make it onto my desert island petit dejeneur list.
Crab cakes with asparagus and sweet chilli sounds like a random mixture of three of my favourite things; but it’s actually a seriously thoughtful breakfast dish designed to capture me hook, line and sinker.
Crisp, sweet crabcakes are accompanied by a few spears of gently steamed asparagus, a generous helping of warm sweet chilli sauce – and topped with a still-runny poached egg.
It’s an unctuous mixture that has enough heat to re-awaken the taste buds while not destroying your palate for the rest of the day. It’s suitably fortifying, too; I didn’t need further food until supper that day.
After two or three refills of Java and a sluice of apple juice, I’m full of vim and ready to exploit the unknown. With a smile to my waitress, I head off, paper tucked at a jaunty angle under my arm.
Okay, okay, so I’m not a regular visitor at The Landmark London – but what’s the harm in pretending?
The Landmark London Hotel, 222 Marylebone Road, NW1 6JQ. For more information, including its history, details of offers and gift vouchers, visit www.landmarklondon.co.uk.