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Like most of us Brits, I do love a good staycation, especially when I’ve calculated that I probably spend more time in hotel rooms than at home – my poor plants are desperate for water..! I’ve spent more time in my dressing room deciding what to wear, than in the kitchen deciding what to eat – no wonder my kitchen is spotless.
I am all packed, ready to take off and paint the town pink with an adorable pooch, Poppy, and head somewhere central for the night. As soon as you enter this unique building, known as St Martin’s Lane hotel, be prepared for some surprises at this trendy Soho hangout. There are whimsical design features in the lobby, unrivalled city views in the bedrooms, Asian-Cuban taste explosions in the restaurant and a secret bar, hidden behind the façade of a tea counter. This hotel is a part of the Morgan’s Hotel Group and has been around for some time, constantly expanding to accommodate regular faces and newcomers, especially the average traveller facing a mind-blowing list of hotels to choose from in this popular hotspot. I have long been determined to visit St Martin’s Lane, standing so pristine with neon bright coloured windows in the evening and now I am eager to find out what delights lie behind the door.
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The lobby is tastefully designed and an aficionado of interior design will be well acquainted with the work of French designer Philippe Starck. Rejecting the homogeneity that has become associated with brand hotels, Starck’s fluid collision of styles and aesthetic genres produces an ‘anti-brand’ space, unpretentiously refusing to comply with trends or passing fads. In each room, Italian leaning mirrors and structured television cabinets by Starck are found alongside African stools custom-made in rural villages, as well as English begonias in terracotta pots, perfectly blending the ultra-contemporary with a unique rustic charm. Oversized gilded gold teeth are used as chairs, crimson velvet-tufted couches, hundreds of pink hydrangeas overflowing at the top of the vase and giant chess pieces welcome you in, as smartly dressed team members quickly attend to you. It’s like being in a rabbit hole, a vision of Alice in Wonderland.
Housed in a former 1960s office building, St. Martin’s Lane Hotel emerged from humble beginnings. The steel-and-glass structure has, however, been injected with a new lease of life thanks to the architectural prowess of Philippe Starck. Elegantly tall, the yellow-glass revolving doors mark the hotel’s emphasis on both functionality and innovation, whilst the open plan lobby, with its luminous yellow and crisp white colour palette, provides a fresh and warm introduction to space. This playful emphasis on colour is present throughout the hotel and results in the hotel becoming particularly striking when seen from the street: the building’s seven stories of wall-to-ceiling windows project a glowing mosaic of light and colour.
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Being only a minute’s walk from Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, all London’s iconic landmarks are on the doorstep. This Covent Garden location is certainly one to be desired. The hotel is at the heart of the theatre district, and well placed for the National Gallery (which you can visit free of charge), Leicester Square, Covent Garden Market or you can simply explore the area’s charming side streets selling antiques, books, and prints. Leicester Square, on the Piccadilly Line, is your nearest tube station. The hotel also offers free bike rentals during your stay, so you can venture further through London at your leisure. Looking for a fitness regime? The hotel enjoys a partnership with the hottest fitness boutique brand, Gymbox, and offers an unconventional fitness centre located right next door, providing guests with a unique fitness experience. Set in what used to be an underground cinema adjacent to this hotel, Gymbox combines stunning contemporary interiors with the most creative, fun and challenging ways to workout. There are various fitness programs to suit all your fitness needs.
This dog-friendly hotel houses an oasis of calm in the midst of the city in its Deluxe Garden Room, complete with a stone walled patio with oversized flowers and plants. Tim Andreas of Banjo has created a sense of spaciousness and luxury by combining natural and modern materials such as linen draperies, a pale leopard print carpet with white lacquer, and etched glass surfaces that shift in colour as the guest moves around the room. The luxury boutique hotel experience at St Martin’s Lane continues with rich amenities and features such as crisp white linens and a plush duvet. The rooms also offer a playful touch – an LED colour-changing light cove with a full spectrum of vibrant colours, allowing guests to change the colour of their room to meet their mood, plus the luxury of “Malin+Goetz” bathroom amenities and in-room media hubs. For that extra-special touch of luxury, if funds allow, why not plump for a corner suite with views of London’s magnificent cityscape across two walls? Poppy is an extremely lucky pooch with her own bowls for water and food, a squeaky toy and even a lap of luxury in her own outdoor space – perfect for guests who wouldn’t want to leave their pet alone for long periods of time when enjoying the restaurant or bar down below.
There are a few cool highlights of St Martin’s Lane, there is a hidden gem inside the hotel, like its clandestine bar the Blind Spot, tucked covertly behind the lobby’s tea counter. The bar’s signature cocktails are inspired by the ancient tea trade and conjure a British elegance like no other. Grab the unassuming golden hand and be transported to an elite backstage club while the friendliest waiter offers a scrumptious choice of cocktails from NYC to Sydney, through Venice, Mumbai, Osaka and many more. Spin the globe and choose from their selection of 25 destinations. Pair the carefully crafted drinks with nibbles from the same regions, and let them transport you to exotic places. Of course, I would choose London, a combination of Earl Grey tea-infused Tanqueray Gin, Raisin syrup, Pimm’s no.1, lemon juice and egg white – sounds like a true Brit!
There is two dining experience at St Martin’s Lane – The Den offers a sultry take on a British gentlemen’s lounge. Equipped in dark browns, earthy greens, and smouldering orange, feel free to enjoy a game of backgammon or settle down with a book accompanied by a glass of wine or afternoon tea while admiring the slightly askew art on the walls… Oooh, this so definitely excites my merry mind! Or if you fancy something more exotic, the hotel’s main restaurant, Asia de Cuba, is the place to start the night. A cultural destination in itself, the dimly lit space really has nothing to hide and is expertly supported by the talented Luis Pous and restaurateur Jeffery Chodorow. The restaurant offers a menu of Latin-Asian fusion that has enchanted guests and food critics around the world which will lead you down a delicious path of Asian-Cuban fusion. From the crispy calamari, paired unusually with banana, to the tender cumin-dusted tuna complemented by a punchy chorizo salsa, it’s a whirlwind of surprises.
The next morning, room service is calling and we are able to enjoy a true breakfast feast spread out on crisp white linen. Poppy was quick to sit up straight and wait for her own delectable choice of breakfast – most definitely a “pawfect” staycation!
St Martin’s Lane, a five-star hotel located in Covent Garden, rates from £209 for a double room.
Photos by Victoria Metaxas