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Bright lights, London city

It's constantly changing, it's full of energy, it's sprawling -- but you'd rarely think of it as laid back. London's overtaken New York as the world capital of cool, but shopping in Oxford Street, sightseeing in Westminster and partying in the West End can take it out of you.

If you want the quaint charm of a village, just minutes away from the bustle of the heart of the city, Marylebone's for you.

Affluent, trendy and filled with cutesy shops and eclectic bars, Marylebone's a genteel oasis of calm.

Boutique

And you’re guaranteed a warm Irish welcome once you step over the threshold at the Marylebone Hotel, one of the Doyle Collection that includes the Westbury Hotel and The Croke Park Hotel here at home.

Fashionably refurbished, although it’s part of a worldwide chain, it’s a boutique-style hotel, intimate, warm and stylish. Even standard rooms are big by London standards, complete with mod-cons, including LCD TVs and duck-down duvets.

For something more lavish, there’s the openplan studio suites, complete with sitting room; luxury suits, boasting great views of Marylebone village; and two penthouse suites, with balconies and stunning views and the ultimate skyline horizon seen from the Presidential suite with its massive 20m square private terrace.

Marble

Being Irish, the bar area has to be good — and it is. Situated at 108 Marylebone Lane, it’s filled with 1950s artwork, leather seating and marble tables. If you’re peckish, the restaurant of the same name is a local hotspot. Sourcing top ingredients locally, it’s a favourite among London’s fussy food critics.

If pounding the pavements of London isn’t enough to work off those calories, the newly opened Third Space Health Club at the hotel should do the trick. With a spinning area, free weights, PowerPlane zone and 18m pool and saunas, it’s got the lot, which isn’t always the case in the English capital.

The big plus of the Marylebone Hotel is its location. While it’s in a quiet and leafy area, the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street is just a few minutes’ walk to the south.

Buckingham Palace is within easy reach too, as is the bohemian nightlife and cafe culture of one of my favourite areas, Soho. Culture-wise, you’re close to Theatreland, with upcoming events including Shrek — the Musical next month, and a reworking of Pygmalion.

Activity

The Marylebone area is a hive of activity, too — and this being London you can sample a range of world cultures on your doorstep.

Good watering holes include Ayoush, a North African bistro with an intoxicating mix of belly dancing, cocktails and food. Then there is the Coach Makers, a friendly traditional-meetsgastropub offering. Iguazu is great, with its South American-themed drinks and food. Or you can linger in the atmospheric Purl Bar, a cellar wine bar that’s part Edwardian, part 1950s and totally cosy.


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