Wonderfully located along the vibrant Southbank, adjacent to Westminster Bridge and opposite the Houses of Parliament, is the luxurious five-star London Marriott Hotel County Hall. Previously home for 64 years to the political elite, this iconic building sits in one of the most prominent positions in London.
Opened in 1922 by King George V, the hotel’s history is evident as soon as you step through the doors, lots of dark wood panelling, classic fixtures and fittings and decadent details, including the prominent original marble fireplace opposite reception. Check-in here is a wonderful affair, nothing is too much trouble and includes a cool glass of bubbles to enjoy whilst you wait for all the paperwork to be completed.
The hotel features 206 rooms, 12 luxurious suites with spectacular views of London, including 7 spectacular balcony suites, and 4 executive suites, all set over 6 floors of this impressive Edwardian Baroque building.
And it was one of the spectacular balcony suites that wasto be our London hideaway for the night. Situated on the 6th floor, whichmeans the views are breath-taking, Westminster, London Bridge, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, The River Thames are just some of the iconic landmarks you can see, and then there’s the London Eye, you are so close, you could almost shake hands with the people in the pods!
The balcony really is the Jewel in the Crown here, the perfect place to sit and watch London Life, whether it’s watching it come to life first thing in the morning, or viewing the glitteringskyline at night, whatever time, the attraction is constantly there, no wonder the hotel is classed as one of the most photographed hotels in the world.There are few city sights that can rival London at night, and we were lucky to have a prime spot in the centre of it all.
Inside is just as luxurious, a contemporary designed room with quirky touches such as bespoke wallpaper in the bathroom and hallway deciping a London street map, a unique orange armchair, a tribute to the orange and red leather-upholstered seating used in the former London council chamber.
A large marble bathroom with a wet-room style shower and a massive wardrobe built for two that included amongst many essentials a ‘selfie stick’ (it’s the little touches that stay with you). In the bedroom area a large comfortable bed was positioned perfectly, so you could lie down and look out the balcony doors without even lifting your head off the pillow! The lounge has a plush velvet grey two-seater sofa and waiting for us on the glass coffee table was a selection of the most delicious mini pastries and cakes, the suite was a little bit of luxury in the centre of London, I could have definitely stayed cocooned on the balcony all day, but dinner was calling, so a quick shower (I’ve spent too long sipping wine on the balcony) and it was time to explore more of this iconic hotel.
Gillray’s Steakhouse and Bar is named after James Gillray, the famed political caricaturist of the late 18th century. Retaining the buildings history and charm, oak panelling dominates throughout the bar and restaurant, with prints from James Gillray adorning the walls. An evening meal meant the views from the windows in both the bar and restaurant were those of twinkling lights from the imposing city skyline.
Mustard and yellow was the theme running through the bar, with a beautiful crystal chandelier taking centrestage. The drinks menu is extensive, wines, cocktails, spirits and if you’re a gin lover (who isn’t) there’s a choice of over 100 different ones (it could be a long night!)
The restaurant itself has a slightly different vibe, a mixture of chunky wood and marble tables, surrounded with pale grey or turquoise soft leather chairs, black leather booths back up against the wood panelled walls and food is served via a dumb waiter, another throwback to the wonderful history that surrounds this building.
We began our dining with pan fried mackerel with marinated anchovies and an oyster dressing, utterly delicious, as was the Maldon salt baked Cornish oysters served with smoked streaky bacon and apple salsa.
It would be sacrilege to come to a steak house (especially one as exclusive as Gillray’s) and not have steak, so after changing my mind at least five times, I finally settled on the 200g bone out fillet, served with triple cooked chips, a garden salad and red wine sauce – this literally was one of the best steaks I have ever tasted. Hubbie had venison loin steak which he said was simply delicious, tender and a real treat to the taste buds. It’s not just the food here that’s first class, service is just as good, as is the attention to detail – you even get to pick your choice of knife for the steak.
Was there any room for dessert? Not for me, but hubbie did manage a small helping of the Salcombe dairy ice cream (which is unlike him as he always seems to fit dessert in), I’m blaming the pull of those views in our suite again, which is where we were served coffee, sitting on the balcony looking out over the bustling London streets and unforgettableskyline.
Finally we managed to drag ourselves away and retire for a blissful night’s sleep. Next morning, suitably refreshed, we were ready to watch the streets of Westminster slowly come to life below us before we headed off to the M Club executive lounge for breakfast. If you are staying in a suite then exclusive access to M Club executive lounge is included and as well as breakfast you can visit any time for complimentary snacks and drinks served all day to keep you ticking over.
When it comes to exceptional luxury stays in the heart of the city, London Marriott Hotel County Hall is breath-taking from every angle, it ticks all the boxes as a five-star retreat in the middle of the capital, with its authentic design, historic background and unrivalled breath-taking views, a stay here is something you need to do at least once, the only problem you’ll have is you won’t want to leave!
Prices start from *£643 based on two people sharing a Balcony Suite with M Club lounge access. For more details or to book visit, www.marriottcountyhall.com
*Prices may vary from those shown.