If all this travel leaves you reeling, we've found the ultimate spot in London where you've got a ticket to stay put.
THE best part about rail travel is the grand railway station. In the ambit of Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot - long white gloves and crocodile leather suitcases, Armani-scented gentlemen with manners – the idea of rail travel is altogether glamorous. But the whole travel part – compartmentalised food trays, sharing bathrooms, travelling backwards – is far less enchanting. Which is why London’s Landmark Hotel has hit the spot. It’s railway travel without the trains.
Built as the last of the great railway hotels during the golden age of steam in 1899, the hotel boasts a central atrium from where horse-drawn carriages used to pick up and drop off guests. While it never actually became a railway station, after the original architects fell into financial trouble, the building now conjures an image of grand once-were stations like the Gare du Nord in Paris, and London’s St Pancras and Paddington stations.
But for the traveller, the want-to-be station is all the better for not having any actual trains running through it, and for being a stunning location of opulence, reminiscent of a time when travel was only for the very sophisticated. But if a train is what you need, Paddington Station, which gets you to Heathrow, is 10 minutes away, while Marylebone Tube station is across the road via a covered walkway.
The rooms themselves are built around a central glass-roofed atrium, making for a very un-London scene as blue skies filter through the glass and palm trees set a colonial theme amongst white-clothed tables. During the week, suited-up travellers have hot breakfasts before heading into their London offices, and guests with nothing to do can people watch from the comfort and privacy of their own rooms.
Though grand, the hotel also has a lovely intricacy about its architecture, and it’s hard not to get a little bit lost in the long passageways and nooks when heading back to the atrium from the ground floor bathroom, for example. But staff are very helpful, albeit slightly bemused, when giving directions.
But a good thing about getting lost is what you find. Stumble on a little bar called the Mirror Bar, which seems to be named after a corridor of small, individually framed mirrors leading to its entrance. Having discovered the bar on the first evening, we came back every evening. It’s like a lovely private room at a railway station where you can get champagne before you board your train. But the train never comes and you are lucky enough to spend the whole evening there, asking for one more plate of the complimentary hors douvres please. This is also an excellent spot for celebrity spotting, and we saw at least three we couldn’t quite place.
Spend your time, and appreciate the hotel in all its stunning glory, in the Winter Garden atrium for afternoon tea. The British do tea well, the Landmark Hotel sets a new standard. With tiered petit four, intricate and perfect, and proper English tea, this is the place to relish not travelling by rail, and getting to stay just where you are.
FLY IN AND OUT SERVICE
The Landmark London now has a flexible hotel check-in and check-out system for long-haul travellers from Australia and New Zealand.
Aussie travellers can get the first available room type and a guaranteed check-in of 9am if they plan to stay a minimum of three nights. You also won’t be man-handled out of the hotel by mid-morning come your day of departure, as you often are in even the finest hotels, and you can check-out as late at 9pm. This helps antipodean travellers avoid the horrible day-long wait at Heathrow for the 10.50pm flight to Sydney, instead relaxing in the hotel’s atrium, or catching up on some sleep before the too-long flight.
To make the most of this service, exclusive to Australians and New Zealanders, just organise your booking from home and make sure you pre-pay.
The Landmark London
222 Marylebone Road
London NW1 6JQ
Reservations on +44 (0)20 7631 8000