BACKGROUND Open since January, the new-build flagship Me London is the fifth Me by Melia hotel. It sits on the site of what was once Marconi House – the original home of BBC radio, and Citibank.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Both the exteriors and interiors of the 11-floor, 157-room property have been designed by Foster and Partners. Upon entering, there is a coffee lounge separated from a long corridor by a wall of vertical chrome bars. I was a little confused when I arrived as reception is on the first floor, so there is no conventional sense of arrival after coming in off the street, although a friendly member of staff greeted me. You step out of the lifts into a dark, nine-floor pyramid atrium with giant projections of blue jellyfish floating up the walls. (There is a light show open to the public with free cava every evening at 7pm.) Expansive, dimly lit black marble corridors add to the slightly surreal feel.
WHERE IS IT? It’s centrally located on the corner of the Strand and Aldwych, a couple of minutes’ walk from Covent Garden. Waterloo station is across the bridge on the south side of the river and Temple Tube station is four minutes away on foot.
ROOM FACILITIES Rooms are on floors one to nine and all have the same décor, though the size, view and some features vary between categories. They range from the 20-29 sqm entry-level Aura rooms to the 99 sqm two-floor Suite Me. Standard amenities include Egyptian cotton sheets, easy-to-navigate panels that control the lighting and air conditioning, IP interactive TVs, surround sound, media hubs, workdesks with universal sockets, laptop safes, Nespresso machines, free bottled water, minibars, rainshowers and Apivita toiletries. Wifi is free (for 2MB; high-speed wifi is £15 for 24 hours).
I was staying in a Mode room (30-34 sqm), which, like the other rooms, sported white leather walls, glossy sinks and sliding doors, and a black lacquered wall into which the TV and minibar were set. Mood lighting added colour and ambiance to the otherwise minimalist surroundings – some people might find it too cold and masculine but I really liked the interior, which had a subtle space-age look to it. My room also had a double rainshower. I was impressed by how well designed everything was.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The tenth-floor rooftop Radio bar has an impressive wrap-around terrace with sweeping views of the city. The other dining outlets have deliberately been separated from the rest of the property – on the ground floor with direct street access – but I found this was to the detriment of creating an inviting lobby, as each branches off from a long U-shape corridor instead. As well as the Marconi lounge for tea, coffee and pastries, there is STK – a glitzy steakhouse with DJs playing 1980s pop classics – and Cucina Asellina, which serves rustic Italian cuisine.
In contrast with the rest of the hotel, Cucina is light and airy with huge street-facing windows. The atmosphere is warm and convivial, and I enjoyed a delicious starter of chicory, green beans, Gorgonzola and pecan salad (£7), and a moreish buffalo mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil pizza served on a wooden board (£9). An array of cheese and meat platters, pasta and secondi (roasted lamb, chicken paillard, grilled calamari and the like) is also available. At breakfast, instead of a buffet, waiters bring you a selection from a set menu (yoghurt, pastries, cereal, fruit, cold cuts, a cheese plate, bread) for £14. There is also an à la carte menu.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The smart lower-ground floor has a ballroom for 100 people cocktail-style – this can also be divided into six studio spaces, each holding 20 delegates classroom-style. There is a private dining room for 16 guests in STK.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is a fitness area with Technogym and Kinesis machines. In-room spa treatments can be arranged – I had a relaxing aromatherapy massage and, although the therapist was 20 minutes late, I was impressed by how a member of staff set up the room with mood lighting, candles and chill-out music beforehand.
VERDICT A trendy new addition to London’s high-end hotel scene – the rooms are well designed and the rooftop bar a real highlight, with some of the best views of the capital you are likely to find. The Me London is trying hard to be the epitome of cool and, for some, might just have achieved it.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 157 – 36 Aura, 51 Vibe, 24 Mode, 19 Energy Urban and 11 Energy River rooms, and 16 suites (eight Chic, six Passion, one Personality and one Suite Me).
- HIGHLIGHTS The pyramid-style lobby atrium with space-age projections, the in-room mood lighting, the relaxed Cucina Asselina restaurant, and the rooftop bar views.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in June started from £410 for an Aura room.
- CONTACT Me London, 336-337 the Strand; tel +44 (0)845 6018 980; melia.com