Marylebone Village, just north of Oxford Street, is turning into one of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods for aesthetes, eaters and amblers. A whirl at a family-owned boutique hotel fashioned from seven Grade II-listed townhouses and two mews homes showed us it has a lot more to it than an impressive address and notable neighbours…
Where we stayed…
THE ARCH LONDON West Londoners ourselves, who’d have thought a staycation a short cab ride from home at the Arch London hotel would provide such an inspiring Mr & Mrs Smith night away? Service was so gracious and warm, our subterranean Abbey Suite was ridiculously well equipped (Jing tea and Nespresso!) and comfortable (crisp bed linen, cloud-like mattress deluxe!) as can be.
- Devouring the best stone-oven-baked sour-dough pizzas outside of Italy in Hunter 486.
- Sipping the signature martinis made by first-class mixologists. (The Caramel Latté, pictured, was dessert in itself; vodka, Kahlua, white-chocolate liqueur, caramel syrup.)
- Admiring British art including Julie Cockburn’s ‘You Are the Key To My Soul 5’, an embroidery-enhanced antique map.
- Enjoying a black-and-white movie from theimpressive in-house library – I watched from the bath of our suite’s sleek ensuite while my other half caught it from our chintz-free canopy-less four-poster bed.
Our dinner (mum, dad and six-year-old daughter) in a banquette in the open-kitchen brasserie would have been worth the trip here alone. Hunter 486 (its name refers to the telephone code of yore for Marylebone) is that rare breed of West End restaurant which is chic yet relaxed and great value.
Where we ambled… Turn left out the hotel, and you can’t miss John Nash’s 1827-built white-Carrara-marble arch which was originally created as the official gate to Buckingham Palace: Marble Arch is right at the end of the roadat the edge of Hyde Park. Next to it is Nic Fiddian-Green’s arresting huge bronze sculpture of a horse’s head, entitled ‘Still Water’ (pictured, right; Mr Smith almost pushed me under a bus for deadpanning, ‘Why the long face?’).
Strolling back down Great Cumberland Place here in the Portman Estate and we enjoyed a parade of Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian architecture – it’s astonishing how quiet these distinguished London streets can be set back from the hurly burly where Park Lane and Oxford Street meet.Turning right onto George Street we soon had lots of charming shops to gaze into the windows of – from extravagant cakes (pictured, right) to a seemingly art-directed eco dry cleaners.
We poked our noses into St James, Spanish Place (pictured, below) and were blown away by the sweeping naves inside this early Gothic Roman Catholic Church (impressive arches were clearly the theme of our W1 jaunt). Swerve north here and you’ll find street du jour, Chiltern Street where Monocle Café now is, and where cocktail obsessives make their pilgrimage to Purl on Blandford Street. Or detour south towards Manchester Square and visit the Wallace Collection; the café is a delight and you can also have a nose around the rococo room and try and figure out the use of some of the bonkers antiques.
It’s no secret that Marylebone High Street has more upmarket stores you can throw a black AmEx at from interiors to sharp tailoring. What was most exciting for us was discovering Cabbages & Frocks Market opposite the esteemed Conran Shop is now every Saturday 11am–5pm in the front grounds of Saint Marylebone Parish Church. More crafts and artisanal fare than couture, here we enjoyed a perfect flat white (pictured, right) from and cooed over the eccentric English flavours of macaroons (pictured, right) and from here it was only a few minutes walk to Regent’s Park. I could tell you that here we strolled through Queen Mary’s Gardens, admiring the roses, arm in arm, reciting Dickens (Marylebone’s most famous ex-resident) but the truth is we just pigged out on a picnic of cheese from La Fromagerie on Moxon Street and revelled in the fact the nearest Tube is on the Bakerloo line and only a few stops from home. The perfect staycation.
Perfect for… Couples, families of all ages and also dog owners – the Arch London hotel will happily lay on beds, bowls, chef-made meals, and arrange walking and dogsitting for your pooches too. To book a room at the Arch London, check rates and availability online or by ringing our Smith24 team. Photos: © http://instagram.com/julietkinsman