Arrival/Check-In: I arrived at the hotel after a not-too-long early-morning taxi ride from Paddington Station. The hotel is on the site of the Gaiety Theatre, where shows were at one time as famous as the Ziegfeld Follies in New York, and next to Marconi House, the former headquarters of the BBC and the site of the first BBC radio broadcast in 1922. This is where the hotel’s Radio Bar gets its name. The entrance is at the very point where the Strand meets the Aldwych. It is a pleasant surprise as you enter the somewhat austere building to find a Eurosleek edgy interior of black marble and gleaming stainless steel. The reception desk is one level up in what has to be one of the most interesting one-of-a-kind spaces anywhere. It is shaped like the inside of a hollow obelisk that soars nine stories to the top of the building, where a skylight gives you a view of blue sky or clouds. It’s this reception area that sets the tone of your stay, meaning you can expect the unexpected.
Guest Quarters: I was in room 510, an Aura Suite, which had a decent-sized sitting room and bedroom and a very generous bathroom, which could be accessed from the bedroom or through a separate door off the entrance hall, so the water closet could also act as a powder room if you have visitors. The living room had a large, wall-mounted flat-screen smart TV; a large sofa; and a good-sized easy chair as well as a desk chair and a desk/work station with desktop outlets. The bedroom included a king-sized bed, an easy chair and a wall-mounted smart TV.
The bathroom had a large shower with two showerheads, a separate vanity and double sinks, and a deep Jacuzzi bathtub. The toiletries were by Apivita, a Greek organic brand which was new to me.
The room came with an iPad for ordering services and such. I didn’t use it, but I can see its usefulness. My only issue was the über-high-tech lighting and mood lighting that seemed to have a mind of its own and — truth be told — I never quite mastered it. But that was such a minor annoyance compared to my overall satisfaction with my stay.
Services/Amenities: The hotel has several excellent venues for entertaining or just having a relaxing drink. The most spectacular of these, and one that draws people from the nearby theater district and London financial district, is the Radio Rooftop Bar with a wraparound terrace which affords fantastic views of London, from St. Paul’s to the far reaches of the West End.
Cucina Asellina is a hot new Italian restaurant with a separate outside entrance as well as one from the hotel. My London-based colleague and I had dinner there one night, so I can say in all honesty it is well worth a visit. For less formal dining, there is STK, a high-energy informal eatery inside the hotel where you can get a full meal or a hamburger and after 10 p.m. listen to the resident DJ. It was very busy during my stay, so it appears to be a hit with guests as well as Londoners. And when you want to meet a friend for a drink and a chat, there is always the ground-floor Marconi Lounge just off the entrance. This also was very busy with guests and locals.
The Experience: ME London is only a few blocks from The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s Cathedral, and not far from London’s financial district, so it is an ideal place to stay for business, culture and shopping. When I stayed, there was a high level of energy and buzz about the place which was generated by the restaurants and the rooftop bar, as well as by the very stylish interior and the attractive and outgoing staff who were always alert to guest requests. I will recommend ME London to my friends and look forward to staying there again.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Separate tub and shower
- Large vanity
- High-quality towels
- Powerful, unattached hair dryer
- High-quality bed linens
- Large, flat-screen television
- Large desk with convenient outlets
- Complimentary in-room WiFi
- Complimentary bottled water
- Stocked minibar
- Ample lighting
- In-room coffeemaker
- Iron and ironing board
- On-site restaurant and bar
- 24-hour room service
- State-of-the-art fitness center
336-337 The Strand
WC2R 1HA, United Kingdom
tel 44 207 395 3400
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