Scotland on Sunday’s Do Not Disturb
There will be plenty of hotels in London that boast the best views in the city, but the new suites at Marriott County Hall might just be deserving of that lofty accolade.
Based at the iconic building directly across from the Houses of Parliament from where Ken Livingstone, as leader of the GLC, took aim at Mrs Thatcher, it now has an art deco feel fusing the building’s rich history with contemporary touches.
A private balcony in the suite where I stayed offers unparalleled views of Big Ben and the parliamentary estate.
Budget or boutique?
Calling the luxury experience at Marriott County Hall “boutique” seems like dangerously underselling it. It is as upscale as possible, being billed as the “ultimate in luxury accommodation”. From the champagne on arrival and the dedicated personal assistant to the private airport (or in my case railway station) transfer service that comes with the suites, the hotel more than justifies its claim as offering a “truly five-star experience”.
The Balcony Suite I stayed in, one of six newly renovated suites, had a king-size bed, separate living area and a large bathroom replete with high-end toiletries. A writing desk was there for those with more business than pleasure in mind, while a flat-screen TV made passing the time all the easier. Of course, these features all paled into insignificance beside the vista from the private balcony.
Wining and dining
The main dining experience at County Hall is Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar on the ground floor, which claims to be the best steakhouse on London’s South Bank.
There was little argument from our party on that score, as we enjoyed watching tourists and commuters flock by our river-view window while enjoying some of the finest steak we have ever had. The highlight was the flat iron steak, a butcher’s cut that has recently come into fashion and went well with the Gillray’s own-brand beer and simple triple cooked chips.
Gillray’s is also where the main cooked breakfast is offered, although guests in the suites can also enjoy a more continental breakfast in the M-Lounge, which is also open for snacks and drinks throughout the day.
Worth getting out of bed for
The capital remains unrivalled for its choice of activities day or night.
County hall itself, as well as containing the Marriott, is host to a number of attractions, such as the Sea Life London Aquarium, which has over 500 different species of marine life.
The London Eye is mere yards away from the hotel, and offers views of the entire city while retaining the old-school joy of a Ferris wheel trip.
Also close is the Southbank Centre, which always has interesting exhibitions and concerts (many of which are available free or for a minimal fee) as well as a year-round street food market.
Further afield, there are plenty of concerts happening at the O2 Arena and other venues, and taking in a show in London’s theatre district rarely disappoints.
The range of drinks and snacks available at the M-Lounge helps separate the County Hall experience from that in other hotels in the area, while the indoor swimming pool (the largest of its type in London) can help guests relax before or after an adventure in the city, especially if they have taken advantage of the early check-in or late check-out.
If staying at a top end luxury hotel is on your bucket list, as it was on mine, then you will struggle to find anywhere better than Marriott County Hall suites.
Every effort is made to ensure you come away from the hotel feeling like you have just had a once in a lifetime experience, and the views from your private balcony won’t leave your memory in a hurry.
The stay in the suite is luxury personified and makes London Marriott Hotel County Hall worthy of its reputation as one of the best hotels in London.
A Balcony Suite at London Marriott Hotel County Hall starts from £650, River Thames View Suite from £950, Westminster Suite from £1,500.
London Marriott Hotel County Hall, London County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7PB (0207-928 5200, www.marriott.co.uk)