If you're planning a weekend on the town, you might as well reside at one of the city's best addresses, and few carry the cachet of Park Lane. This grand 18th-century avenue marks the western boundary of the exclusive Mayfair district and exudes pomp with its elegant buildings and fine views of Hyde Park.
At the north end stands the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, a cockstride from London's main shopping parade, Oxford Street. While there are more than a few high-class hotels on the Lane, this addition to the US-owned Marriott portfolio is the latest. It could also be the last, developed on the only remaining site available for use as a hotel in this street. The seven-floor mansion block, built in 1919, apes the architecture of Paris's Champs Elysées. Today, beyond its Grade II-listed classical facade is a sleek, modern hotel catering for every whim of its 21st-century guests.
There's plenty here to distract you when the hustle and bustle of the city becomes too much - not least a state-of-the-art fitness centre with an ambient glass-walled pool with changing coloured lighting. And after a day pounding the streets, the intimate restaurant and bar, 140 Park Lane, is the place to while away the evening.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
140 Park Lane, London W1 (020-7493 7000; www.marriott.com). Book a room with a view of the park and John Nash's fabulous Marble Arch (don't worry about noise; you might be on one of central London's busiest thoroughfares but the double glazing muffles the sound of the traffic). For leisure pursuits, you couldn't be better positioned. Within five minutes you could be crossing the threshold of Selfridges or sampling the recherché delights of Bond Street. A short hop by bus or tube will take you to the retail and nightlife honeypots of Covent Garden, Soho, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Kensington and Fulham.
Time to King's Cross: The railway station is three miles away but allow 30 minutes. A black cab costs around £10, the tube from Marble Arch via Holborn costs £1.60, or catch bus 10 or 73 for £1.
Time to international airport: Heathrow is 15 miles west. A cab costs a wallet-bashing £50 and takes anything from 30 to 90 minutes. A cab to Paddington (£5) will drop you at the Heathrow Express terminal, from where a £13 ticket gets you there in 15 minutes. Or else take the Airbus from Marble Arch (£10), or the tube from Marble Arch to Heathrow via Bond Street and Green Park (£3.60).
ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?
With 157 bedrooms and suites to choose from you won't be stuck for choice. The rooms are comfortable, with large, luxuriously dressed beds (pillows are "comfort-tested"), sparkling, well-equipped and spacious bathrooms, voluminous curtains and deep-pile carpet. There's an opulent, five-star feel to the place, but you never quite forget this is part of a multi-national chain and popular with business people.
Freebies: Book into a suite and snaffle the Bulgari toiletries.
Keeping in touch: You'll be seriously hooked up by modem, fax or internet. The phones have conference and speaker features as well as voicemail. Choose a CD from the extensive library and have it digitally streamed to your room, or flick through the 25 channels on the plasma-screen TV.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Currently, a promotional weekend deal offers the best value at £186 per room per night, room only; or £222 for a park view and breakfast.
I'm not paying that: Bed and breakfast at Roberta and Robert's Marble Arch home-cum-guesthouse costs from £80 per night for an en-suite double. Book through London Home To Home (020-8566 7976; www.londonhometohome.com)