Review: London Marriott Park Lane

Introduction

Yesterday I posted my review of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, a very solid property that substantially exceeds almost every Hyatt Regency standard. As I mentioned in that review, I wanted to try out two chain-standard properties that I’d heard great things about, since London is not the easiest city in which to redeem hotel points for luxury stays.

The London Marriott Park Lane is only a few blocks from the Hyatt Regency, however, it’s got a superior location, at the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in Mayfair, and directly across from Hyde Park and Marble Arch. In fact, the Marble Arch tube station is directly in front of the hotel.  The hotel itself an imposing and elegant 19th century building. The hotel entrance is actually one block south of Oxford Street, just off Park Lane, which is helpful as the Park Lane and Oxford Street sides of the structure are lined with rather tacky souvenir stalls.

London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, viewed from Hyde Park

I was eager to check in, as the few reviews of the property out there seemed to suggest it was someplace rather special, and a bit more of a boutique gem than its sister property just down Park Lane, the J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House. It was also a bit of a bargain at 45,000 Marriott Rewards points, which is the equivalent of 15,000 Starpoints. By comparison, the Park Tower Knightsbridge, Westbury, Le Meridien, Sheraton Grand Park Lane and W Leicester Square are all either 20,000 or 25,000 Starpoints per night, depending on the time of stay.  As a Gold-level member of Starwood Preferred Guest — which I only have as a result of possessing an American Express Platinum Card — I am also a Marriott Gold member, which entitles me to lounge access and a room upgrade.

Check In

There is a small driveway and an unassuming entrance into the lobby, which is a rather quiet, marble-lined affair with some tasteful but modern artwork. Up about a half-flight of stairs are a series of reception desks, with individualized check-in. I was already fairly impressed at how much like a luxury hotel this mainline Marriott seemed to be. We took a seat at the desk while our front desk host, Richard, checked us in. Richard was kind, warm and funny, and when I inquired whether a Gold upgrade was available, he smiled and told us that our room had already been upgraded — “but, let me see what we can do.” Without prompting or hesitation, he upgraded us into an Executive Suite from a base-level room.

While we were chatting with Richard, we asked him for suggestions on where to grab a cocktail before dinner (which was still hours away) and he more than obliged with a couple of suggestions. Unexpectedly and amazingly, while out walking through Soho just thirty minutes later I received an email from Richard, forwarding an OpenTable reservation he’d made for us at one of the cocktail lounges we’d discussed, in case we wanted to pop in. It’s rare to receive that level of proactive and predictive service at any hotel.

London Marriott Park Lane lobby
London Marriott Park Lane lobby artwork

The Room

One of the reasons I’d been keen to try the Marriott Park Lane was that photos of the guestrooms I’d seen on TripAdvisor seemed to show that they were surprisingly luxurious. Although I’d booked and was expecting a base-level room, Richard had upgraded us to an executive suite (on the second floor, our room was called the “Hastings Suite”) with a corner window overlooking Hyde Park.

Common area hallways on the guestroom floors are tasteful, with a bit more of an Asian vibe than the Hyatt Regency Churchill. The purple patterned carpet and grasscloth-lined walls were soothing, if unexpected.

London Marriott Park Lane guest hallway

Our room had its own name on it, which led me to believe that we were about to walk in to something rather special.

London Marriott Park Lane guestroom

Indeed, the suite was huge — especially by London standards — and impeccably decorated.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite foyer

To the right of the entry foyer was a hallway leading to the bedroom, with the bathroom and wardrobe area off to the sides.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom

The bedroom itself was massive, with a wall of windows overlooking Hyde Park.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom

What I quite appreciated about the bedroom was how smartly designed it was. It felt very classic, but had all the bedside amenities you’d want — USB ports, electrical outlets, and an iPhone speaker/radio, which all blended into the decor seamlessly.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedside detail
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedside detail

A table by the window had complimentary bottled water.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bedroom detail

As for the bed itself, it was huge and cloudlike, and I slept like a baby.

The wardrobe area was spacious, and contained a minibar, a coffee and tea setup, a safe, an ironing board, and the usual suspects (which, in the U.K., include a hair dryer, since electrical plugs are not permitted in bathrooms — I’m not quite sure how the British blow dry their hair in the mornings).

Coffee and tea amenities
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite closet
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite closet area

Opposite the wardrobe area is probably the most opulent bathroom in any Marriott property. Although you can overdo it on marble, as most hotels in the Middle East generally do, I found the all-marble bathroom to have been executed tastefully and sumptuously.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom

Toiletries were by Floris London, and were quite lovely. I’d add a minor quibble that for some reason, the body wash had been mislabeled “shampoo,” so it took a minute or two to figure out which bottle should go in my hair and which bottle should go on my body.

Floris London toiletries

Not to be outdone by the Hyatt Regency Churchill, the Marriott Park Lane also has Toto Washlet toilets.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite bathroom
Toto Japanese toilet

Back to the entry hallway, a right turn from the bedroom hallway led us into the massive living and dining room area with a gorgeous curved window overlooking the park.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite living room

There was a Juliet balcony and the windows opened onto the park, which was great on a warm summer day. The divan was actually a pretty comfortable place to sit and look out on the view below.

London Marriott Park Lane executive room view out onto Hyde Park

The seating area was also quite comfortable, although the artwork here was not to my taste.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite living room
Artwork in the living room

Adjacent to the seating area was a dining table and bar setup.

London Marriott Park Lane executive suite dining room
London Marriott Park Lane executive suite artwork

I actually quite liked the art above the bar, which was accompanied by a floral arrangement. I thought these touches were incredibly homey and warm.

Executive Lounge and Food & Drink

Just around the corner from the lobby, the executive lounge is accessed using your keycard, and it’s quite spacious. It’s also very well decorated, and felt like a comfortable private club.

London Marriott Park Lane executive lounge
London Marriott Park Lane executive lounge

But my was it busy. Although we typically found a seat, it was at all hours very crowded.

London Marriott Park Lane executive lounge

Candidly, it was a bit too crowded for me to snap photos of the food without feeling self-conscious about it, but in the evening there was a setup with cheeses, charcuterie, and various hors d’ouevres along with a self-serve wine, beer and alcohol setup. The food was actually quite delicious across the board. In the morning, there was an extensive setup of bacon, scrambled eggs, charcuterie, smoked salmon, breakfast breads, as well as some South Asian and Middle Eastern options.

While the crowds — mostly American tourists, for what it ‘s worth — detracted from the ambiance somewhat, I thought it was an elegant place to spend a half hour so, and the food was top notch. While the Regency Club at the Hyatt Regency Churchill is solid, I preferred the executive lounge at the Marriott Park Lane by quite a bit: I thought the lounge was more inviting and clubby, and the food options were far more extensive. On the flip side, of course, the fact that I’m a Marriott Gold simply by virtue of having an American Express Platinum card means there are thousands like me with access to a rather swanky lounge like this. Hence, the crowds.

The hotel has a restaurant, Lanes of London, which we did not go into. However, we were told at check-in that the hotel has a rooftop bar, which we could not find — until we were told it was a little hideaway bar with a separate entrance off of Oxford Street. We checked it out and it truly was hidden, with no signage or even a name. After walking up six flights of stairs, we discovered a rather funky California-style oasis chock full of young Londoners and hipsters.

London Marriott Park Lane rooftop bar

The cocktails were excellent and relatively reasonably priced, and it felt like a hidden gem — which few other hotel guests knew about (but somehow, locals did). How often do you get an outdoor rooftop bar in London?

Location

Even if the Marriott were not quite as swanky as it was, I’d still recommend it wholeheartedly based on its location alone. It’s literally on top of a Tube station (Marble Arch), across the street from Hyde Park, steps from Oxford Street shops, with a lobby entry facing the residential streets of Mayfair, which is one of London’s most idyllic walking neighborhoods. It’s close to Paddington Station and also rather close to Heathrow by car; on a bank holiday we got from the hotel to Terminal 3 in an Uber in under a half hour. As Tiffany has pointed out before, choosing a location in London is an art in and of itself, but for my needs I thought that the Marriott Park Lane was perfectly situated.

Service

Every interaction we had with Marriott Park Lane staff from check-in to check-out was flawless, and moreover, felt warmer and more personal than you would typically expect even of a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons. This part of the experience was what blew me away — any hotel can drop a lot of money on design and decor, but getting service standards to an impeccable level takes fantastic upper level management. Richard, the front desk agent who checked us in, went above and beyond at every opportunity. Imagine that, once we checked in and walked out of the hotel to explore the neighborhood, Richard went ahead as a courtesy and made us a reservation for cocktails at a lounge he thought we’d like, and then had a bottle of prosecco sent up to the room. Yes, really.

Amenity from Richard, the reception host

This was completely above and beyond.

Typically I’m quite self-sufficient at hotels, and service makes neither a good or bad impression on me. In this case, I feel impelled to report that the service was memorably wonderful — the staff provided the kind of moments you’d talk about fondly weeks later.

London Marriott Park Lane Bottom Line

Wow. Just, wow.

London has many dozens of hyper-luxury hotels, at price points that oftentimes defy imagination. While London has a handful of luxury chain outposts — there are three Four Seasons properties, a Rosewood, a Langham, and a Mandarin Oriental, among others — the city doesn’t offer any of the points-and-miles-friendly high end brands like St. Regis, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton or Waldorf-Astoria. But, truth be told, the London Marriott Park Lane was better than almost any Ritz-Carlton I’ve stayed at in years (with the notable exception of Hong Kong, which is an extraordinary property well above the Ritz norm).  It’s intimate and warm, with lavish rooms, great food and impeccable service. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone and will very likely consider it to be my “go to” hotel in London on future visits.

At 15,000 Starpoints a night — or 45,000 Marriott Rewards points — that it’s one of the very best hotels in London, period, makes it an incredible value. Marriott has tons of properties in London (including, confusingly, a “Marriott Marble Arch” which is several blocks north of the Marble Arch and seems to ignore the fact that the Marriott Park Lane is right across the street from Marble Arch), and while the J.W. Marriott just blocks down Park Lane might seem like the luxe option, I’d strongly suggest that the Marriott Park Lane is the jewel in the portfolio’s crown.

The Hyatt Regency Churchill in London is very, very nice. The London Marriott Park Lane is, however, exceptional.

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Comments

  1. While we didn’t get a complimentary bottle of prosecco, our stay at the Park Lane over US thanksgiving weekend was similarly fantastic.
    Just a great hotel

  2. How would you compare the Park Lane property to the Marriott County Hall? I’m visiting London soon and have the County Hall booked based on its location on the Thames but your review is making me reconsider.

  3. Property looks awesome. I need to get my SPG/Marriott Gold status back. First year in a long time I haven’t been Gold. While I didn’t care too much for not having SPG gold, seems like there’s more value in Gold status with Marriott.

  4. Had a great stay there last year as a marriott gold! No real upgrade and no bottle sent up.

  5. @Rob: Haven’t stayed at the Marriott County Hall and while it looks quite nice, it appears to be aiming for a more modern, trendy W or Andaz kind of vibe, and it also appears to be a rather large property in terms of number of rooms. I’d say the Park Lane would be much smaller and more intimate and I imagine you’re unlikely to get the same level of service or luxury at the County Hall, but that’s just based on my gleaning information from TripAdvisor.

  6. Stayed here in Dec and it will be my go to in London. Had previously stayed at Marriott Grovesnor Square nearby which is also 45,000 points. But no comparison to Park Lane. You must not have checked out the health club with the gorgeous pool! My room was not ready for early morning check in so I was able to use health club (with lockers) to freshen up and change before checking my luggage and going out.

  7. Nick, you mentioned in your previous review that you spent some time up in Scotland. Are you going to review that trip as well? I’m planning a road trip of Scotland for me and my wife early next year. Thanks.

  8. @Charles: I wish I had more time there! I was only there for two nights for a wedding, and not in an especially scenic or touristic part of the country. I want to return, very badly, and visit Edinburgh the the Highlands and I will make sure to do a trip report!

  9. Glad to hear it was such a great stay!! I typically stay down the street at Grosvenor House, but I’ll try this one out! The personalized service is fantastic!

  10. Great review.

    Yawn, don’t mean to be annoying but the Marble Arch tube station building is from the 1930s according to Wikipedia.

  11. @David: The Marble Arch tube station building is on the other side of Oxford Street. There’s merely a staircase sidewalk entrance to the station adjacent to the hotel. But I applaud your self-awareness at least!

  12. Hi Nick…. great review as always, thanks for sharing. Only request would be to include images and/or thoughts on hotel fitness center.

    Even if it is not something you use yourself, I’m sure I’m not the only reader who at least considers gym amenities when browsing hotel options!

    Cheers!

  13. @Rob – My family and I stayed at the Marriott County Hall over New Years Eve this past year. The rooms were on the small side and the service was sort of absent, but the Thames river views are quite spectacular if you get a view room. The hotel felt huge, with many rooms, so if that isn’t your style, I wouldn’t go there.

    @Nick – There is a Waldorf in London right in Covent Garden and we actually love that hotel. Very elegant, great breakfast and literally steps from Lion King, Mamma Mia etc. So if you are going with family and planning on catching some theater, definitely consider it.

  14. @Rob (Different from Other Rob): Thanks for the comment on both the Marriott County Hall and the Waldorf Hilton. But just to clarify, the Waldorf Hilton is actually not a Waldorf-Astoria — it’s a mainline Hilton (the hotel has been known as the Waldorf Hotel since the turn of last century).

  15. @Nick: About the tube station. Am I misunderstanding something? The station building across the street and the staircase near the hotel are from the 1930s not the nineteenth century as mentioned in the review. It’s not a big deal.

  16. @David: Oh, I see what you mean. Let me clarify by a re-edit. I meant to say the Marble Arch tube station is right by the hotel, which itself is a 19th century building (meaning the hotel). Not my best grammatical effort there!

  17. I stayed at the Park Lane Marriott two weeks ago, and I agree with the assessment. You did not mention the wonderful large, heated swimming pool and steam room on the basement level.

    Richard also check me in, he was a superb desk agent. I was staying with a friend and we needed twin beds – so I knew my upgrade options would be limited. Most suites only have king beds. But nevertheless I got a room with a nice view of the park. Double windows so no street noise at all. Next time I will get a king and likely get a suite as a Platinum.

    The lounge is great as well with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch (tea) has sandwiches and scones.

    I was able to check in at 9:30am and got late check out of 4pm as a Platinum MR. The staff is wonderful and very professional. Only negative I could find is that all the lighting in the hallways make the hallways a little warm.

    Then we moved down to the JW Marriott Grosvenor. A much larger property – nice lobby and very nice concierge lounge, but old rooms, old hallways, etc – basically a tired property from a room perspective. The staff, while very nice and did there jobs, just were not as professional as the staff at the Park Lane.

    I have stayed at the Grosvenor Square many times and it is nice with a nice lounge and the rooms are nice as well. But the Grosvenor Square is more like a regular Marriott – standard staff – small lobby, etc.

    Park Lane with the Pool is the best.

  18. My preference is to take the Heathrow Express and then take the #36 Bus to Marble Arch. About a 1/2 hour total. The #36 bus departs from Stop H on Praed St – just a half block to the left as you exit Paddington. Then it stops right by the entrance to Park Lane Marriott on Park Lane. The hotel entrance is on the side street – the old Park Lane Entrance is closed.

    With an Oyster card you can take the buses down Oxford St to Soho and Convent Garden. There is a max. of 6.60 GPB per day – so ride as much as you want. Bus is 1.50, tube is 2.20 or 2.40 depending on time. I suggest ordering the Visitor Oyster Card on line and have mailed to your USA address. You can only have it delivered to outside the UK.

    You did not mention the recommended bars? Based on life style you had many options. One even across Oxford St from the hotel.

  19. @Nick – Cool info, I never knew that about the Waldorf in London. Thanks for the background. Kinda like how the Ritz in London isn’t a Ritz Carlton I suppose.

  20. Stayed recently. Wish Richard had been our check in agent. Sadly we were not upgraded per our Gold status expectations. Yes lounge is excellent but Full of questionable clientelle: spa ladies in white robes including towel wrapped heads, noisy and pushy folks completely unaware of business etiquette. Our view was over many ventilation shafts but room was comfy. Housekeeping was hit and miss.

  21. This property must have gone through a complete overhaul. I stayed there…maybe 10 years ago.. and I was less than impressed with absolutely everything. I say overhaul, because it used to be lots of dark browns and drab colors in the lobby area and guest rooms. I had an issue with room service and emailed the food + beverage manager (since, at the time, the front desk “couldn’t do anything”) and I never heard back from them. I carry a grudge for a long time, so I prob won’t stay there now, but it’s nice to see it seems they’ve turned a new leaf.

  22. Your review of this property is exactly my experience . The hotel is simply superb and should not be compared with the Churchill as there it is simply no comparison. I have stayed several times in both properties but the Park lane from my experiences is “Worlds” apart.
    I would never consider The Churchill again after experiencing the Park lane . I highly recommend The Park Lane over the Churchill not only the fabulous rooms and bathrooms ,but the service ,the lounge ambience and quality offerings but the inherent quality and above all the refinement that purvades throughout . The Hyatt property is many , many, levels lower offering a considerably lesser experience not in the same league.

  23. The County Hall is awesome! It’s my favorite Marriott property in the world and I’m P4L…

  24. we stayed at the marriott park lane last month and were so glad we picked it over county hall and grosvenor square. we loved everything about it — although we weren’t upgraded to a suite despite asking about an upgrade and having platinum status(!). wish we had known about the rooftop bar — it does seem to be very well hidden. service was impeccable, the lounge decor as well as food were lovely … our new favorite hotel in london for sure.

  25. I had to laugh! One of my pet hotel peeves is NOT having a place to sit OUTSIDE the bathroom to dry my hair and put on makeup. I always assume it must have been a man who designed the room when there is no convenient place. I and many other women I know hate drying our hair in a bathroom made steamy by our shower – or still in use by a partner. My ideal situation is a desk and chair with a convenient outlet – and a mirror on the wall behind. A moveable makeup mirror makes my day – or stay!

  26. Nick-Like you, I’m a Marriott Gold via an outside channel and don’t regularly use them. But now that I have Gold status they are by backup option in places to use instead of Hilton where I am a Diamond. As far as the breakfast benefits, I can’t seem to get an answer (from Marriott) as far as how they treat a child…whether they are free or a charge and at what age. If a hotel doesn’t have a lounge and me and a guest (my spouse) get breakfast in the restaurant, how is my little one treated (age 5-7)? I’ll assume entering a lounge is a bit more laxed as far as the headcount is concerned vs. a restaurant. Is it a hotel by hotel policy by country? I just want to know what to expect and what is allowed as a Gold. Thanks for any insights by you or fellow Marriott Golds reading.

  27. Ben
    Wow ! you are so Lucky to have a Blog and be treated so properly and so generously!! This Marriott has been refurbished. A year ago when we stayed there, recently having achieved Marriott Lifetime Platinum, we used points as well. However they would not upgrade us. IN fact our room was not ready till 7pm to a room that hinted a vomit smell.
    When we complained to management they simply avoided us. There were numerous other Marriott Platinum members as well on Tripadvisor, who also complained of not receiving an upgrade, or treated well being brought round the bush with excuses and the GM dodges it all.

    Really we cannot agree with your assessment of this Marriott Park Lane, as you were treated with a privilege most travellers would not receive here.

    Hospitality is not about nice furniture it is about being welcoming and hospitable. This Marriott lacked the basic that is expected, they failed miserably and they did indeed receive a firm complaint.

  28. We were there just a week ago and got the exact same treatment. I have exactly the same pictures you have. My only regret is that we there for just one night. This is certainly the nicest hotel room(s) I have had in well over 40 years of travelling. Your review was spot on.

  29. Great review! We had originally planned to stay at this property last month, but changed last minute to the Renaissance St Pancras due to the location (took a train the next morning to Paris). There was nothing particularly grand nor terrible at Renaissance, so we’ll certainly check out the Park Lane property next time.

  30. Stayed there with three kids over Christmas holidays a few years back. One of the most memorable family trips ever! It was mostly empty during our stay. That pool was a saviour with most of the city closed down for Christmas holidays. Staff was fabulous and enjoyed the lounge for breakfast, post walking snacks and drinks. I am life time platinum (with a concierge) so I thought they were going over board as well with wine and cheese being brought to the room. thanks for the tip on the outdoor bar and will search for it on the next stay.

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