What’s it like?

Unlike any Thistle hotel you have ever stayed in. The company has 54 UK hotels and 6,000 bedrooms inLondon alone, but this newly refurbished hotel – which is the first example of its new luxury brand, Guoman – is something different.

Formerly Le Meridien Marble Arch, The Cumberland is the result of Thistle making a very large bet (around £95 million) on their new format, which was created in a four-year renovation under Reardon Smith Architects. If it works, Thistle will upgrade several more city properties in the same adventurous style.

The scene is set by a 4,000sqm ground floor lobby and bar area with white leather sofas and stools contrasted with dark wood: a kind of Tate Modern crossed with a waiting room for heaven. A waterfall cascades from the top of a freestanding, four-metre high glass panel down through the floor. The glass elevators provide a good viewing platform, while three large bronze figures by Sean Henry (called Man with Potential Selves) remind you that there are more important things in life than tomorrow’s meeting with the board.

Where is it?

By Marble Arch on the corner of Great Cumberland Place and Oxford Street.

How many rooms?

1,090.

Room facilities:

There’s a choice of singles, doubles, twins, kings and mini-suites. Go for an interior view as the rooms overlooking the street – particularly Oxford Street – can be noisy. Beds come with Egyptian cotton, and the plasma TV screen in my king room was so large I had to press my head against the back wall of the room to take in all the action. Rooms have internet access via a wireless keyboard (I failed to make mine work), and there’s also broadband for laptop users.

One particularly nice touch is the mini-fridges for chilling food and drink brought back to the hotel. The rooms have vibrant colour schemes such as VolcanicRed, Classic Georgian (blue and turquoise), and Aqua & Lime and Pink, all co-ordinated with artwork such as backlit pictures setinto the walls and etched glasswork.

Business centre:

No, but wifi is available in public areas, and faxing and photocopying can be done at reception. There are also 26 multifunctional meeting rooms.

Restaurants and bars:

The Lobby Bar is bustling, and very dark, until late. Somewhere in the darkness there is an interior of stone, “scorched” sand panelling, soft blue fabrics and timber rod screens. Buffet breakfast is served in Market, which at lunchtime becomes a 200-seat global food market with 11 food styles, from “Hot Wok” to Italian-style, served from five open kitchens. The 180-seat brasserie serves modern European cuisine and has graphic walls created by British photographer Dominic Davies.

Verdict:

A brave departure for Thistle; we should wish them good luck.

Price:

From £140 for a double room.

Contact:

The Cumberland, Great Cumberland Place, London, tel 0870 333 9280, www.thecumberland.co.uk.