CHECKING IN | LONDON MARRIOTT COUNTY HALL

Being one of the most photographed hotels in the world means that the London Marriott County Hall offers Londoners a truly unique perspective of the capital with views of the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. Once the only five-star offering south of the river, the Marriott County Hall is steeped in history; the listed building was originally opened in 1922 by King George V and Queen Mary and was once the HQ of Greater London Council, before opening as a luxury hotel back in 1998.

With 206 rooms, 12 suites, and 7 spectacular balcony suites, the hotel is vast, set over 6 floors of the Edwardian Baroque building, designed by British architect Ralph Knott. The entrance, set back off Westminster Bridge has a covered stone walkway that leads to a circular road, in the middle of which is a giant flower bed.

Once inside, the character of the place is immediate, with wood panelling, black pillars and decadent detailing. What was the original council chamber, holding 200 council members is now the setting for a theatre production.

There are a few quirks of the hotel that are easily overlooked, like the huge original marble fireplace opposite reception. You can see, if you know where to look, the old telephone switchboard system that operators had to use to connect calls, and all the art throughout the hotel tells the story of the building’s history

Our room for the evening was one of the spectacular balcony suites which is just knock out. The rooms and suites have benefited from an upgrade recently and boy does it work. The new approach sees a more contemporary design, brought to life with colour and detail that puts a little fun and playfulness into the spaces. The spacious bedroom has a separate lounge area with sofa, table and orange armchair, a nod to the decor of the former London council chamber. The bathroom is also huge with a walk in shower and bespoke wallpaper featuring a historic map of London.

The balcony is the jewel in the crown here though, giving us a view of the river Thames like we’ve never seen before. Literally in touching distance of the London Eye, we sat waving at the people in the pods – you can even see them mouth the words ‘oh my god, look at them’. From the balcony we watch the sun go down on London Town as it transforms into nighttime mode, and that is pretty damn special.

Waking to the chimes of Big Ben, breakfast is served buffet style in the Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar and sees traditional English breakfast options along with Asian choices. A full English with a side of dumplings – no complains from us. Up on the 6th floor of the building is a 25-meter indoor swimming pool that is also flooded in natural light, something you don’t find too often in London. There’s also a sauna and steam room to use too.

For a unique look at London, the Marriott County Hall Hotel is able to make London feel super special, even if you’ve lived here for years.

London County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, London, SE1 7PB
marriott.com