Tried & Tested

Hotel review: The Dilly, London

1 Sep 2021 by Tom Otley
Exterior of The Dilly

Background

This property originally opened in 1908 as the Piccadilly Hotel, featuring a Neo-Baroque style edifice inspired by 17th-century Palladian architecture, designed by Richard Norman Shaw. In recent years it became part of the Forte Group, then a Starwood hotel under the Le Méridien brand. Ownership has remained with Archer Hotel Capital since 2010. Recently transformed and rebranded as the Dilly, it is the first hotel in the Archer portfolio to be operated independently.

What’s it like?

The redesign by Aspinall Creative Design in Staffordshire is striking, and the new signage and lobby stop passersby in their tracks – I watched many people ask the doorman if they could step inside to take photos. Inside, the walls are painted a Farrow and Ball “Hague blue”, a dark tone that contrasts well with the stained glass cupolas, red leather armchairs, bright contemporary art and floral arrangements by Pulbrook and Gould. The mezzanine floor balcony, which used to be the club lounge, has been renamed, simply, the Balcony, and in the evening, the lobby becomes nightclub-like, with one door leading to Madhu’s restaurant and a doorway to the right leading to the bar.

Where is it?

On Piccadilly, only a two-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus Underground station for connections to Heathrow. It’s so central that you could walk easily to most places in the West End within a few minutes.

Rooms

There are 255 rooms and 28 suites, all available in a variety of categories, sizes and aspects, which means few are identical. Each has a good-sized desk and convenient USB charging points and plug sockets, and the bin is subdivided for recycling. Bathrooms have modern amenities, large walk-in showers (both rain and power settings) and come with Floris toiletries from nearby Jermyn Street.

A suite at The Dilly

Food and drink

The hotel’s bar in the basement, rebranded as Downstairs at the Dilly, was closed at the time of our visit. For those who prefer daylight, there are drinks available at all-day dining restaurant the Terrace, which in the 1920s and 1930s was where the outdoor swimming pool was located. Now it’s covered and feels like a conservatory with lots of plants, low-slung sofas and coffee tables. You can have everything here, from afternoon tea to cocktails and an evening meal.

The selection of drinks, as well as the snacks, all have English connections, from Bimber whisky to Chapel Down wines and Toast beer.

On the ground floor, in the most impressive room in the hotel – the Grade II listed Oak Room – is both the bar and pop-up restaurant, Madhu’s at the Dilly, which serves Punjabi cuisine with a Kenyan twist.

Madhu’s is a fourth-generation family restaurant and hospitality business that started in Nairobi and, after decades of success in London’s Southall, is expanding (there are also Madhu’s at the Sheraton Skyline Heathrow and the Grove in Watford).

The food is excellent, as is the service, and at the time of my visit, even though the hotel was only just reopening, the restaurant was full. Highly recommended.

The Dilly

Meetings

The first floor has several banqueting and meeting rooms and a separate kitchen for catering, as well as hotel bedrooms, allowing a function to take over the entire floor.

Leisure

On the lower-ground floors there is a large health club with two squash courts, several rooms of fitness equipment, a swimming pool, a dance studio, other exercise rooms, and the Spa at the Dilly, which is run by Yoma and offers various treatments including a Thai massage.

Verdict

The renovation has been a great success so far. The new public areas and rooms work well, and once autumn arrives and the new bar opens there will be a greater choice of places to drink. The staff are as excellent as ever, and Madhu’s is very special for food in the evening.

FACT FILE

  • Best for An unrivalled location at the heart of Piccadilly in the West End
  • Don’t miss A blow-out meal at Madhu’s
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in November started from £319 for a Dilly Classic room
  • Contact 21 Piccadilly; tel +44 (0) 20 7734 8000; thedillylondon.com
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