London: A magical Marylebone hotel for your Little Black Book
The Arch, London
Is London calling for luxury? Our travel editor has the perfect entry for your Little Black Book...
Set the mood
Sick of Shoreditch? Pooh-poohing Peckham? Sometimes, city breaks demand big-ticket oohs and aahs - and in London, Marylebone is your man.
Sandwiched between Regent's Park and Hyde Park, braided with Georgian townhouses, sporting classy boutiques and sexy salons, this is a hipster-free zone. Porsches purr; mewses go for millions. You can dine in L'Autre Pied, shop and sup at Monacle Café, or book afternoon tea at Browns, all without taking a cab.
Seeking out an urban hideaway, I got wind of The Arch, a slick, family-owned five-star stretching over several townhouses on Great Cumberland Place (Madonna is a neighbour, don't ya know). The omens were good.
Blown-glass chandeliers, street food-inspired afternoon tea and a Martini Library designed by Jeremy Scarlett and Taschen books? For 24 hours, this peachy piece of London postcode was mine... and I made the most of it.
For the full hotel gallery, see above.
The Hunter 486 Restaurant & Bar
File The Arch under 'best-kept secrets'.
You'd hardly notice it from the street, but step inside and you'll find a seductive world where contemporary design (Philippe Starck bar stools, 'Alphatecture' photos making letters out of the London skyline) meets heritage touches (an original staircase here, hand-printed wallpaper there).
I ate at the Hunter 486 Restaurant & Bar, named for Marylebone's 1950s dial code. Nab a leather booth and tuck into its British-inspired menu - the halibut with orange and chervil butter (£21/€25) was a light and tangy choice after a heavy lunch...
Oh, and do let yourself be talked into the chocolate fondant (£6.50/€7.65). It'll send you to bed (or bath) with a devilish grin.
I hadn't heard of Daunt Books (83 Marylebone High Street, dauntbooks.co.uk). When I tweeted for Marylebone tips, however, its name popped up all over my timeline. I moseyed along and found a glorious rabbit hole.
Here is an independent bookseller housed in Edwardian premises, complete with skylights, stained glass and oak galleries. Daunt files books "by country" and dotes on travel (there's even a section devoted to maps. Maps!) Authentic, romantic, ultra-browsable, it's the perfect little ode to books.
A deluxe room at The Arch
Rooms at The Arch are compact, as can be the case in London, but the attention to detail shines. There are Paul Smith lamps, duck-down duvets, anti-steam mirrors and Malin + Goetz bathroom goodies - and rain showers and Nespresso machines are always welcome in my Little Black Book. My tip? Leave an hour when you get back for the Champagne bar - a parting glass of London glamour before bed.
The Wallace Collection's Great Gallery
A museum within walking distance? Try The Wallace Collection (wallacecollection.org; free), where Old Master and 18th-century French works are displayed through 25 galleries on Manchester Square. The Great Gallery is a gem, and the leafy courtyard restaurant is set under a glass roof.
Some design touches appealed more than others for me. I wasn't a fan of the flickering art installation behind reception, for example, or the mustard-coloured floral carpet prints. The public areas are very tight on space, too.
Get me there
Martini Bar at The Arch, London
London is the best-served city from Irish airports, so there's no shortage of flights. On this trip, I flew with CityJet (cityjet.com) to London City, nabbing a midweek return for €120 (with checked bag included). From there, the DLR to Marble Arch (change to the Central Line at Stratford) took 45 minutes.
Rates at The Arch (thearchlondon.com) start from £350/€412 for a deluxe room and £420/€495 for a suite. Dogs are welcome (there's even a 'doggy menu'), and there are interconnecting rooms for families... at a price, of course.