UK Travel

Review: The Cumberland, Marble Arch, London, UK

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The Cumberland regained its old name in May, having spent a number of years as the Hard Rock Hotel London. But, despite the name change, the musical associations of the 900-room hotel, which was the last official residence of Jimi Hendrix and home to the original Hard Rock Cafe, still remain. In fact, musical references abound, from the hotel’s logo (a ‘C’ set against the shape of a guitar pluck) to the “It’s Oh So Quiet” do-not-disturb signs (a nod to a song by Betty Hutton, and later Björk).

The hotel is owned by Clermont Hotel Group, said to the largest owner-operator in London by room count. The group was formerly known as GLH Hotels and as Guoman before that.

The welcome

I arrived at the hotel at around 8am – far too early for check-in, but so that I could drop off my luggage and go about my day without taking it with me everywhere. The concierge staff were very accommodating, providing me with a ticket so that I could re-claim my stored luggage on my return.

That evening, re-united with my luggage, I went to check-in. I was staying in a Star Suite and, once reception had established this, immediately led to a second ‘hidden’ and more intimate reception behind closed doors, and invited to take a seat with a glass of Champagne. This private ‘Backstage’ lounge was an unexpected perk, comes with unlimited refreshments and snacks, and is available to guests staying in executive rooms and suites.

The room

I was shown to my Star Suite (Room 8005) by Angelica, who kindly helped with my luggage. I would normally have been happy to carry it myself but, with an unexpectected glass of Champagne, some paperwork and my room keys in hand, that had suddenly become a little more challenging.

The suite spans 45 square metres and comes with a super-comfortable King size Hypnos bed. It can in fact sleep up to 4 people as the sofa in the lounge can double up as a sofa bed.

It must be over 30 years – maybe almost 40 – since I’ve actually played a vinyl record, but in the room is a Crosley turntable and a box full of vinyl, containing everything from Blur’s Park Life to Black Stone Cherry live from The Royal Albert Hall, as well as a Fender guitar and Marshall amplifier.

“Welcome, Paul!” is written on a mirror that doubles as a height chart, with markings ranging from Snoop-Dogg (6’4″) to Ariana Grande (5’0″). At 6’0″, I share the same height as George Michael and Stevie Wonder. The walls are also adorned with pictures of Amy Winehouse and Bryan May.

Room amenities include bath robes and slippers, a complimentary minibar that is re-stocked up to three times per day, a Nespresso machine, a separate lounge area, and all the other modcons you might expect.

On drawing back the curtains, I discover I have an impressive view of the London Eye.

The bathroom

The bathroom is airy and light, with floor to ceiling tiles, and a separate bath and rainfall shower.

Essentiel Elements toiletries are provided – a Gilchrist & Soames brand that contains high-grade essential oils, with no synthetic fragrances or dyes, creating products that nourish the body while awakening the senses.

The facilities

One of the things that strikes you about the hotel on the arrival is the enormous foyer area. At the time of my visit, the centre of this was occupied by a London cab, providing guests with a fun photo opportunity; but to the left is a large area taken up by the SOUND Café, billed as ‘3 venues in one’ since it serves as a sports bar, live music venue and a café serving food and drink.

The dining is very informal – I took a place at the bar where it was a little bit brighter for taking photographs. Pictured is the salt and pepper calamari, deep-fried and served with a chive and garlic mayonnaise.

My main was a prime New York strip steak, topped with a herb butter and spicy shrimp, and served with triple-cooked chips, grilled mushroom and tomato, along with a Caesar side salad. I asked for the steak ‘very rare’ and it was cooked perfectly.

Downstairs in the basement is ‘The Green Room’ where a buffet breakfast is served each morning, and there’s an also an omelette station if you’d prefer something made to order.

The location

Conveniently situated at a crossroads in the heart of London’s bustling West End, The Cumberland is just moments away from the city’s iconic Marble Arch, often considered the gateway to London’s culture, commerce and entertainment. Just yards from Marble Arch Underground station on the Central Line and with Hyde Park and Oxford Street’s world-renowned shopping both only a leisurely stroll away (it’s only 5 minutes to Selfridges), the hotel is superbly positioned.

Other nice touches

The Cumberland looked after me exceptionally well. In my room was a bottle of fizz, a plate of fresh fruit and some complimentary chocolates. 

The cost

Double and twin rooms start from £199 per night.
Star Suites start from £455 per night.

The best bit

The exclusivity of the check-in was very unexpected. It gave a wonderful first impression, and the backstage lounge served as a peaceful oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the main foyer.

The final verdict

Seamlessly combining modern sophistication with classic elegance, my stay at The Cumberland was a thoroughly enjoyable one. The hotel’s stylish decor, spacious Star suites and attentive service create a welcoming atmosphere for guests in the heart of the city.

Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by The Cumberland.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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