The last of the capital’s grand Victorian railway hotels to be built, the Landmark London opened as the Great Central hotel in 1899 next to Marylebone station.
Requisitioned by the government during both World Wars, after the Second World War it became rail offices. In the late eighties the building was bought by a Japanese pop star, who set about converting it back into luxury accommodation.
Sold to Four Seasons, it reopened as the Regent in 1993 before being acquired by the Thai-owned Lancaster London Hotel Company two years later, and renamed the Landmark London.
At the beginning of the year the five-star property unveiled its new Great Central suite (formerly known as the Landmark suite), the design of which is inspired by its railway heritage.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Built in Gothic Revival style by Robert William Edis, the property’s opulent interiors have been splendidly restored over the years, especially in the side entrance directly across from the station, which was the original reception area. Featuring elaborate plasterwork, lashings of marble and stained-glass windows referencing its past, it can still be used to check in private groups.
In the 1920s the central courtyard – originally where carriages deposited the hotel’s guests – was covered over and turned into a winter garden. Lined with towering palms, this spectacular eight-storey atrium remains the heart of the hotel, serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner to the elegant strains of a resident pianist. It reveals itself at the top of steps leading up from the main Marylebone Road entrance lobby, where welcoming staff check you in at desks to the left.
WHERE IS IT?
Adjacent to Marylebone station – as you exit the station, there is a side entrance directly ahead on Melcombe Place.
In its original incarnation, the property had 700 bedrooms – now it has 300, including 51 suites. Categories range from Superior (30-35 sqm) to the 160 sqm Presidential suite. Classically elegant in style, roughly half of the guestrooms look into the Winter Garden with the other half facing outward.
Standard services and facilities include free wifi, minibars, tea and coffee facilities (Nespresso machines in suites), safes, robes and slippers and White Company toiletries (Molton Brown in suites). Some have a shower over the bath while others have separate tubs.
Located on the sixth floor, the Great Central suite can be accessed directly from a lift in the side entrance lobby. Overlooking the station through shuttered windows, it comprises an entrance hall with a cloakroom and guest washroom, a spacious living room to the right, a bedroom to the left and, off that, a bright and sparkling white marble bathroom with a deep tub, twin sinks and a great rainshower.
Luxurious and residential in feel, the interiors pay homage to the golden era of train travel, with nice touches including vintage suitcases, old prints of the hotel, a trunk-cum-coffee table and a large bathroom clock with the Great Central insignia.
Featuring a dining table for four and a sitting area with fireplace, the living room has some beautiful pieces of furniture and plush fabrics in neutral and violet shades.
There is an elegant writing desk with international plug sockets and an antique telephone, as well as a smart TV, DVD player and iHome system. It was a comfortable place to wind down from a hard week’s work on the Friday I stayed. The bedroom had a luxurious king bed and another large TV, and was very peaceful.
Prior to their visit, Great Central suite guests are asked to fill in a questionnaire about their preferences. I was impressed to find a vase of freesias (my favourite flower) and a bottle of red wine decanted on a vintage bar trolley, with crystal glassware to pour it into. Complimentary petits fours and bottled water were also provided, along with turndown service.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
As well as the Winter Garden, which serves a bountiful breakfast buffet, there is Two Twenty Two restaurant and bar on the lower ground floor. Housed in the oak-panelled former billiards room, it offers an international menu in a relaxed setting, with warm and professional service.
I enjoyed a zingy starter of tuna tartare (£12) and a nice piece of sea bass (£22). On the ground floor, the Mirror bar is a glamorous venue for cocktails.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
A particular strength of the hotel, there are 11 spaces in total, including two ballrooms, and some feature fabulous original features and high ceilings. The Grand Ballroom holds 750 delegates for a reception and is being refurbished in August.
Also being refreshed that month is the ornate Drawing Room, formerly the gentlemen’s smoking room, which accommodates 180 guests for dinner and has a baby grand piano.
On the lower ground floor is a spa with a lovely chlorine-free 15-metre pool, saunas, a spa bath and four treatment rooms. It will be refurbished this summer. There is also a gym with Technogym equipment, and a hair and beauty salon. Regent’s Park is close by for runners.
Walking into the Landmark and its wonderful Winter Garden always feels like a treat – and staying in the beautifully remodelled Grand Central suite is even more so. A very impressive hotel with a thoughtful and warm team of staff.
Rates for the Grand Central suite start from £2,000 per night. Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in a Superior room in July started from £366.
The Landmark London, 222 Marylebone Road; tel +44 (0) 20 7631 8000; landmarklondon.co.uk