24-hour room service: The Arch, London

The shape of things to come

The tube is within spitting distance and nearly every bus in London goes via Marble Arch, but The Arch is the sort of hotel where they expect you to arrive, at the very least, by taxi. So it was a bit disappointing my cab driver had never heard of it. We spent the last leg of the journey kerb-crawling the length of Great Cumberland Place, our necks craning out like a multi-headed hydra shouting out the name of each hotel we passed.

I don't blame him – The Arch has only been open three months and lies in the area of Georgian terraces north of Oxford Street where every other building is a hotel. But this is no net-curtains-and-baked-beans affair: the Arch is a five-star luxury boutique hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, it provides a cosy and discreet alternative to bigger names down the road on Park Lane, but offers similar facilities including a restaurant, gym and cocktail bar. Significantly, the rooms also cost less.

If Madonna didn't already live opposite (as the cab driver told me) I imagine The Arch might be the kind of place she would stay.

The design is a fusion of tradition with contemporary, equivalent to wearing a pointy bra over a pinstripe suit. It also shares the star's fixation with a certain kind of Englishness. Walls painted in discreet hues of Farrow and Ball cream/white/ beige are dominated by contemporary black-and-white photographs of London and bold bright pieces by rising artists such as Georgia Fiennes and Julie Cockburn. Lime-bleached wooden floors bathe in light from recessed spotlights, while stone fireplaces and heavy oak doors hint at the building's 18th-century origins.

The décor isn't perfect: I could have done without the mattress-sized plasma screen hanging over reception, which made it hard to concentrate while the receptionist began listing the perks available to guests.

Chief among these is the restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks through the night. It takes its name, HUNter 486, from Marylebone's old dialling code, a theme also used for the suites and conference rooms in the basement. Pretentious, possibly, but the food isn't: a reasonably priced menu includes classic dishes such as fish pie for £12.50, grilled sea bass, steak tartare and lamb shank. There are also more adventurous starters, such as celeriac soup with truffle oil and an excellent foie gras and guinea fowl terrine, as well as puddings that include cardamom panacotta with stewed rhubarb.

You have to pay for dinner, of course, but The Arch's enlightened policy means most other extras are free. So there's fast Wi-Fi everywhere, a frighteningly modern gym, hundreds of DVDs to borrow and all rooms are equipped with Sky TV, an iPod dock and 10,000 digital radio channels.

Location

My cab driver might have known where to go if I had asked for The Bryanston, the three-star hotel that used to occupy this knocked-together row of six Georgian houses just south of Bryanston Square. It was arguably a more distinctive name, and one more evocative of its Marylebone location than The Arch, which takes its cue from the marble one at the other end of the street. But for anyone with business in central London this is an excellent location: Regent Street, Hyde Park, Piccadilly, Knightsbridge and Oxford Street are all close at hand.

Comfort

Somehow they have crammed 82 rooms into the six townhouses and two mews houses, with little compromise on space.

Each room is white except for one wall covered in a beautiful patterned paper by the Milanese designer Fornasetti. The beds are vast expanses of crisp white linen crowned with plenty of plump white pillows. Although this means you can hardly stop yourself from leaping straight in, luxury can be oppressive: I woke several times in the night feeling I was drowning in swaddling. The room temperature can be adjusted at the press of a button – just as well, as the goose-down duvets are almost too hot.

Gadgets include an iPod dock, Nespresso machine, digital radio and plasma TV, but as I tossed and turned I wondered if all that electromagnetic fog was what was keeping me awake.

The greatest indulgence is in the bathroom, where a waterproof television sits over the bath, complete with a remote that you can merrily drop in the water. A late check-out of 2pm is available, and means there's plenty of time to enjoy all these little luxuries.

The Arch, 50 Great Cumberland Place, London W1H 7FD (020 7724 4700; thearchlondon.com )

Rooms 5 stars
Value 5 stars
Service 4 stars

Doubles start at £180, suites from £350, including breakfast

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect