What’s your favourite London building? Mine is the Houses of Parliament. I might not always approve of what goes on inside, but the outside does it for me every time, with its fairytale spires and imposing, riverside location.
So you can imagine I was majorly thrilled to discover that my room – nay, my upgraded Executive Suite (does anyone else consider ‘upgraded’ to be the loveliest word in the English language?) – at the Marriott London County Hall, looked directly out onto the Parliament buildings and Big Ben. Here’s the iPhone picture I took from my bedroom window:
The problem with such a stunning view is that you don’t get a lot done other than staring at it, photographing it, and sending photos to friends with ‘look at my actual view!!’ and heart eye emojis till they tell you to bugger off. But once I’d finally focused my attention on the hotel’s insides, I was glad I had. Because this is one seriously sexy place.
My suite itself was proper luxury, with every detail thought through, down to the arrangements of (real!) orange roses, which complemented the bright-backed dining chairs (yes; my suite had a DINING TABLE big enough for six!) beautifully. But what made the suite extra-special were the little touches that referenced its central London location. So thanks to the woven map-of-London wallcovering, the Thames design on the bespoke TV cabinet, and pile of Penguin Books postcards, for the few minutes when I wasn’t gawping at the view, I retained a sense of what a special place I was in.
This London theme continues in the rest of the hotel, and it’s done with class, humour and a love of funky wallpaper – I especially enjoyed the Osborne & Little’s Penguin Books wallpaper by the lifts (I considered this for The Pink House bathroom at one stage), and the bowler hat and umbrella wallcovering in the corridors. They’ve even gone to town (ha!) with the corridor curtains, which feature a Dickensian pocket watch print.
On the ground floor, it’s the original parquet flooring, with its perfect patina, that steals the show. The floor leads you from the reception area through the hotel, to their bar and steakhouse restaurant Gillray’s, where there are more Thames-views-to-die-for.
The best thing about these beautiful public rooms is that they’re not trying to be cool. The County Hall is a grand dame of a building, and it hasn’t been messed with; instead, the high ceilings and period features are complemented by oversized button-backed sofas, butter-soft leather chairs, and lashings of marble and brass.
Time for lunch – and what a lunch! The steak was perfect, the truffle chips heavenly, and the delightful sommelier let me taste three different types of red wine before I decided on my favourite (the Rioja – I’m so predictable). My dining companion had a white wine with a flying fish on the bottle. No idea what it tasted like, but it looked so fab I decided to order a crate for The Pink House. Because we all know it’s what’s outside the bottle that counts – as long as there’s booze inside we’re onto a winner. But it was my pudding that took the boozy biscuit: a deconstructed sherry trifle, where the sherry was poured in, trickling through the layers of cream, fruit and custard, in front of my greedy little eyes. Effing tasty.
After lunch I met the lovely Gigi from kid-proof neon brand Bag & Bones on a tall yellow Chesterfield in the bar. We attempted to order sparkling water (it was only 4pm and those sunny Leo Sayer* pre-kids Sundays are long gone), but Gillray’s head barman was having none of it. He whisked us to ringside seats at the bar, and - right in front of our eyes - whipped up four of his speciality cocktails, using smoke, great balls of ice (goodness gracious), home-infused spirits and a touch of magic. I had no idea what he was doing, but the end results tasted great. Hic.
After a truly excellent night’s sleep (greatly aided by the absence of the small Pink House Dwellers, as well as my half-Leo), it was a special moment when I drew the curtains (at 9am!!). There, once again, was fabulous view - and with London's blue skies to boot. Beats watching Paw Patrol any day of the week…
*'all dayer' for those not up on their Cockney rhyming slang. Oh Leos, how I miss thee…
Thanks so much to Marriott London County Hall for inviting The Pink House to stay as their guests in return for this review. All views are our own, and completely honest.