What’s it like?
The former London County Hall which opened in 1922 was converted into a Marriott hotel back in 1998. It has now recently completed a multi-million pound renovation to all the rooms and many of the public areas.
The renovation has replaced a lot of the old red and yellow colour scheme of the original hotel and it is now much more modern without this being incongruous. The parquet floors of the ground floor and wood panelling remain, as do the high ceilings and intricate detailing of some of the plasterwork, but all rooms have been completely redecorated, the corridors re-carpeted and modern yet locally appropriate art and furnishings introduced, with lots of themes including the serpentine course of the Thames in some of the decoration and on many of the bedroom furnishings handles which are the C and H for County Hall.
The hotel has quite a strange shape, and depending on where your room is there are long corridors to walk along, but it is made more interesting by the art and colour, wallpaper with bowler hat and umbrella prints and by each lift area a modern art display around Penguin books.
Where is it?
By Westminster Bridge on London’s South Bank. Views from the river-facing rooms include the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the River Thames and the London Eye. The closest underground station is Westminster on the other side of the bridge, so a taxi might be more convenient if you have luggage – they can pull up by turning into the courtyard and stopping right outside the hotel.
The 194 rooms and 12 suites (206 in total) are on floors one to six. They all have different layouts and views, principally of the Thames (124 in total), the nearby Jubilee Gardens or the interior courtyard (prices vary accordingly). In total 80 percent of the rooms are outward facing, with 20 percent inward facing (courtyard). The entry level Deluxe rooms (30m2) of which there are 82 all have Nespresso machines, safes, work desk, plenty of power points including for European and American plugs, and lovely black and white bathrooms with wallpaper with a 1920s print of a map of central London and Floris amenities. Nice touches are umbrellas in every room, orange chairs (again, a nod to the orange chairs that were once in the County Hall building) and the detailing on the art deco-style furniture. Other rooms include the River Thames View (43 of these), Big Ben View (48 of these), Junior Suite (14 of these), Balcony Suite (7), One Bedroom Executive (4) and the Westminster Suite (1). Wifi is £7.50 for standard access and £15 for full speed access, although the lower speed is complimentary for gold and platinum members of Marriott Rewards (if you have booked the hotel directly on Marriott.com).
The Executive Lounge is on the fifth floor, though this was closed for renovation at the time of my stay. It is open for gold and platinum members and those in suites, and has a Continental breakfast served from 0630 – 1030; evening drinks and canapés served from 1730 – 1930.
Restaurants and bars
The hotel’s main restaurant and bar is Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar, which has excellent views across the river and a huge choice of gins behind the bar. You can read a review from a previous visit here.
Just opposite the entrance is the Noes Lobby Champagne bar. The hotel also offers afternoon tea in the Library Lounge.
These are extensive, including a large swimming pool (25m length) on the sixth floor and a very large fitness centre on the fifth floor. The hotel sells private memberships to these which means there are classes you can join, but it also means that the gym is not 24 hours and you have to visit reception on the fifth floor to get a code to access the facilities, which are open from 0530 until 2300 each day.
Business and meeting facilities
There are 10 event and meeting rooms on the ground floor, though there is no ballroom and the maximum delegate capacity of 100. The rooms have a variety of layouts, have natural light and the wood panelling and art works give a real sense of the history of the building.
A lovely renovation of a historic property in a very convenient location.