Posted: 28th June 2016
Stylish, sophisticated and steeped in history, Marriott’s UK flagship London County Hall is the epitome of London luxury. Beautiful South’s Henry Ascoli experienced the revival of a London icon…
Officially opened in 1922 by King George V and Queen Mary, County Hall has had a colourful past. From being struck by a bomb in World War II to the infamous political battles between Ken Livingstone of the Greater London Council and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government during the 1980’s, the County Hall has been stamped by history.
From the teeming crowds of tourists on the banks of the Thames to the ornate surroundings of the County Hall reception, a journey that takes only seconds but transports you from the hustle and bustle of city life to a world of contemporary comforts and five-star luxury. Marriott County Hall redefines the London city break.
En route to our room, we pass a wall adorned in Penguin book covers – the first small sign that these are not the stuffy, corporate surroundings one might expect of a large London hotel, but instead the eclectic history and connections of County Hall being played out before our very eyes.
The view from our Big Ben suite is straight off a London postcard – the famous landmark looking down across the city, swarms of tourists and locals jostling for position as they tackle the short journey across Westminster Bridge.
Our room itself retains County Hall’s historic charm while creating an informal, stylish and contemporary look, the black and white London map adorning the bathroom walls once again revealing the hotel’s penchant for something different –a desire to stand out from the crowd.
We enjoy dinner in the historic library, once again gazing out across the Thames, as the rich tapestry of the hotel’s character is unveiled before our very eyes.
The Library formerly served as the Member’s Library for delegates at the Greater London Council.
The bookcases are made of oak on which the busts of Milton, Shakespeare, Agrippa, Plato and other classical figures sit. The fireplace at the south end of the room has a carving by A.H. Wilkinson (1922) of ‘Truth reading aloud, the second figure recording, with the plumed helmet of Minerva, Goddess of the Arts.’ Behind it was once the librarian’s office with an oak spiral staircase to the gallery.
The sumptuous three-course dinner, beautifully crafted by executive chef Sylvan Chevereau, features a blend of classic and modern styles, starting with a wonderfully fresh and vibrant amuse bouche of watermelon salad cone. For the main event, three bone lamb rack with courgette and basil puree, hazelnut and olives packs a stunning array of flavours and textures, the rich and tender meat providing a perfect contrast to the smooth puree, the presentation superb. And to finish, a sweet and indulgent treat: salted caramel pecan box with caramel ice cream.
And what better way to round off the evening than sampling some of the hotel’s famous cocktails? Within the intimate surroundings of Gillray’s Bar, head barman Sam Mitchell guides us through the diverse menu, including a wide range of gins and a wealth of classic and contemporary cocktails. Outside, as sun sets on the city, the bright lights of London reflect off the water, as we enjoy conversation over cocktails and while away the evening.
It’s not every day that you wake up, pull back the curtains and see the city of Westminster stretched out before you, but we admire the view one more time before heading down for buffet breakfast in the Gillray’s Restaurant. As ever, the superb service and attention to detail is evident – a hallmark of the Marriott experience – and breakfast fit for a King adds the finishing touch to a truly memorable stay.
We venture back out into the city, ready for a day of exploring, but turn back to admire Marriott County Hall one last time.
A rich history and a bright future for a city icon.
Rrooms at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall start from £300 per room including breakfast. For more information visit LondonMarriottCountyHall.co.uk or call 0207 928 5200