Review: London Marriott Park Lane

Introduction

Yesterday I posted my review of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, a very solid property that substantially exceeds almost every Hyatt Regency standard. As I mentioned in that review, I wanted to try out two chain-standard properties that I’d heard great things about, since London is not the easiest city in which to redeem hotel points for luxury stays.

The London Marriott Park Lane is only a few blocks from the Hyatt Regency, however, it’s got a superior location, at the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in Mayfair, and directly across from Hyde Park and Marble Arch. In fact, the Marble Arch tube station is directly in front of the hotel.  The hotel itself an imposing and elegant 19th century building. The hotel entrance is actually one block south of Oxford Street, just off Park Lane, which is helpful as the Park Lane and Oxford Street sides of the structure are lined with rather tacky souvenir stalls.

London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, viewed from Hyde Park

I was eager to check in, as the few reviews of the property out there seemed to suggest it was someplace rather special, and a bit more of a boutique gem than its sister property just down Park Lane, the J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House. It was also a bit of a bargain at 45,000 Marriott Rewards points, which is the equivalent of 15,000 Starpoints. By comparison, the Park Tower Knightsbridge, Westbury, Le Meridien, Sheraton Grand Park Lane and W Leicester Square are all either 20,000 or 25,000 Starpoints per night, depending on the time of stay.  As a Gold-level member of Starwood Preferred Guest — which I only have as a result of possessing an American Express Platinum Card — I am also a Marriott Gold member, which entitles me to lounge access and a room upgrade.

Check In

There is a small driveway and an unassuming entrance into the lobby, which is a rather quiet, marble-lined affair with some tasteful but modern artwork. Up about a half-flight of stairs are a series of reception desks, with individualized check-in. I was already fairly impressed at how much like a luxury hotel this mainline Marriott seemed to be. We took a seat at the desk while our front desk host, Richard, checked us in. Richard was kind, warm and funny, and when I inquired whether a Gold upgrade was available, he smiled and told us that our room had already been upgraded — “but, let me see what we can do.” Without prompting or hesitation, he upgraded us into an Executive Suite from a base-level room.

While we were chatting with Richard, we asked him for suggestions on where to grab a cocktail before dinner (which was still hours away) and he more than obliged with a couple of suggestions. Unexpectedly and amazingly, while out walking through Soho just thirty minutes later I received an email from Richard, forwarding an OpenTable reservation he’d made for us at one of the cocktail lounges we’d discussed, in case we wanted to pop in. It’s rare to receive that level of proactive and predictive service at any hotel.

London Marriott Park Lane lobby
London Marriott Park Lane lobby artwork

The Room

One of the reasons I’d been keen to try the Marriott Park Lane was that photos of the guestrooms I’d seen on TripAdvisor seemed to show that they were surprisingly luxurious. Although I’d booked and was expecting a base-level room, Richard had upgraded us to an executive suite (on the second floor, our room was called the “Hastings Suite”) with a corner window overlooking Hyde Park.

Common area hallways on the guestroom floors are tasteful, with a bit more of an Asian vibe than the Hyatt Regency Churchill. The purple patterned carpet and grasscloth-lined walls were soothing, if unexpected.

London Marriott Park Lane guest hallway

Our room had its own name on it, which led me to believe that we were about to walk in to something rather special.

London Marriott Park Lane guestroom

Indeed, the suite was huge — especially by London standards — and impeccably decorated.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite foyer

To the right of the entry foyer was a hallway leading to the bedroom, with the bathroom and wardrobe area off to the sides.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom

The bedroom itself was massive, with a wall of windows overlooking Hyde Park.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom

What I quite appreciated about the bedroom was how smartly designed it was. It felt very classic, but had all the bedside amenities you’d want — USB ports, electrical outlets, and an iPhone speaker/radio, which all blended into the decor seamlessly.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedside detail
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedside detail

A table by the window had complimentary bottled water.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom detail

As for the bed itself, it was huge and cloudlike, and I slept like a baby.

The wardrobe area was spacious, and contained a minibar, a coffee and tea setup, a safe, an ironing board, and the usual suspects (which, in the U.K., include a hair dryer, since electrical plugs are not permitted in bathrooms — I’m not quite sure how the British blow dry their hair in the mornings).

Coffee and tea amenities
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite closet
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite closet area

Opposite the wardrobe area is probably the most opulent bathroom in any Marriott property. Although you can overdo it on marble, as most hotels in the Middle East generally do, I found the all-marble bathroom to have been executed tastefully and sumptuously.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom

Toiletries were by Floris London, and were quite lovely. I’d add a minor quibble that for some reason, the body wash had been mislabeled “shampoo,” so it took a minute or two to figure out which bottle should go in my hair and which bottle should go on my body.

Floris London toiletries

Not to be outdone by the Hyatt Regency Churchill, the Marriott Park Lane also has Toto Washlet toilets.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
Toto Japanese toilet

Back to the entry hallway, a right turn from the bedroom hallway led us into the massive living and dining room area with a gorgeous curved window overlooking the park.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite living room

There was a Juliet balcony and the windows opened onto the park, which was great on a warm summer day. The divan was actually a pretty comfortable place to sit and look out on the view below.

London Marriott Park Lane executive room view out onto Hyde Park

The seating area was also quite comfortable, although the artwork here was not to my taste.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite living room
Artwork in the living room

Adjacent to the seating area was a dining table and bar setup.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite dining room
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite artwork

I actually quite liked the art above the bar, which was accompanied by a floral arrangement. I thought these touches were incredibly homey and warm.

Executive Lounge and Food & Drink

Just around the corner from the lobby, the executive lounge is accessed using your keycard, and it’s quite spacious. It’s also very well decorated, and felt like a comfortable private club.

London Marriott Park Lane executive lounge
London Marriott Park Lane executive lounge

But my was it busy. Although we typically found a seat, it was at all hours very crowded.

London Marriott Park Lane executive lounge

Candidly, it was a bit too crowded for me to snap photos of the food without feeling self-conscious about it, but in the evening there was a setup with cheeses, charcuterie, and various hors d’ouevres along with a self-serve wine, beer and alcohol setup. The food was actually quite delicious across the board. In the morning, there was an extensive setup of bacon, scrambled eggs, charcuterie, smoked salmon, breakfast breads, as well as some South Asian and Middle Eastern options.

While the crowds — mostly American tourists, for what it ‘s worth — detracted from the ambiance somewhat, I thought it was an elegant place to spend a half hour so, and the food was top notch. While the Regency Club at the Hyatt Regency Churchill is solid, I preferred the executive lounge at the Marriott Park Lane by quite a bit: I thought the lounge was more inviting and clubby, and the food options were far more extensive. On the flip side, of course, the fact that I’m a Marriott Gold simply by virtue of having an American Express Platinum card means there are thousands like me with access to a rather swanky lounge like this. Hence, the crowds.

The hotel has a restaurant, Lanes of London, which we did not go into. However, we were told at check-in that the hotel has a rooftop bar, which we could not find — until we were told it was a little hideaway bar with a separate entrance off of Oxford Street. We checked it out and it truly was hidden, with no signage or even a name. After walking up six flights of stairs, we discovered a rather funky California-style oasis chock full of young Londoners and hipsters.

London Marriott Park Lane rooftop bar

The cocktails were excellent and relatively reasonably priced, and it felt like a hidden gem — which few other hotel guests knew about (but somehow, locals did). How often do you get an outdoor rooftop bar in London?

Location

Even if the Marriott were not quite as swanky as it was, I’d still recommend it wholeheartedly based on its location alone. It’s literally on top of a Tube station (Marble Arch), across the street from Hyde Park, steps from Oxford Street shops, with a lobby entry facing the residential streets of Mayfair, which is one of London’s most idyllic walking neighborhoods. It’s close to Paddington Station and also rather close to Heathrow by car; on a bank holiday we got from the hotel to Terminal 3 in an Uber in under a half hour. As Tiffany has pointed out before, choosing a location in London is an art in and of itself, but for my needs I thought that the Marriott Park Lane was perfectly situated.

Service

Every interaction we had with Marriott Park Lane staff from check-in to check-out was flawless, and moreover, felt warmer and more personal than you would typically expect even of a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons. This part of the experience was what blew me away — any hotel can drop a lot of money on design and decor, but getting service standards to an impeccable level takes fantastic upper level management. Richard, the front desk agent who checked us in, went above and beyond at every opportunity. Imagine that, once we checked in and walked out of the hotel to explore the neighborhood, Richard went ahead as a courtesy and made us a reservation for cocktails at a lounge he thought we’d like, and then had a bottle of prosecco sent up to the room. Yes, really.

Amenity from Richard, the reception host

This was completely above and beyond.

Typically I’m quite self-sufficient at hotels, and service makes neither a good or bad impression on me. In this case, I feel impelled to report that the service was memorably wonderful — the staff provided the kind of moments you’d talk about fondly weeks later.

London Marriott Park Lane Bottom Line

Wow. Just, wow.

London has many dozens of hyper-luxury hotels, at price points that oftentimes defy imagination. While London has a handful of luxury chain outposts — there are three Four Seasons properties, a Rosewood, a Langham, and a Mandarin Oriental, among others — the city doesn’t offer any of the points-and-miles-friendly high end brands like St. Regis, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton or Waldorf-Astoria. But, truth be told, the London Marriott Park Lane was better than almost any Ritz-Carlton I’ve stayed at in years (with the notable exception of Hong Kong, which is an extraordinary property well above the Ritz norm).  It’s intimate and warm, with lavish rooms, great food and impeccable service. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone and will very likely consider it to be my “go to” hotel in London on future visits.

At 15,000 Starpoints a night — or 45,000 Marriott Rewards points — that it’s one of the very best hotels in London, period, makes it an incredible value. Marriott has tons of properties in London (including, confusingly, a “Marriott Marble Arch” which is several blocks north of the Marble Arch and seems to ignore the fact that the Marriott Park Lane is right across the street from Marble Arch), and while the J.W. Marriott just blocks down Park Lane might seem like the luxe option, I’d strongly suggest that the Marriott Park Lane is the jewel in the portfolio’s crown.

The Hyatt Regency Churchill in London is very, very nice. The London Marriott Park Lane is, however, exceptional.

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