A gush of déjà vu rushes over me as I walk out of Marylebone Station, dragging my suitcase behind me; this month three years ago, I moved to London and to a broom cupboard basement flat just steps away from here, one of my favourite London train stations and the grand Victorian hotel that stands before me, The Landmark.
The doorman is busy dealing with a disgruntled guest, so I let myself in and begin my quest to locate the reception. Famed for its indulgent afternoon teas and affluent clientèle, the hotel might at first appear ill situated (surely it's far too close for comfort to an underground tube station?), but all that changes as soon as I step inside. The hotel's stage, the cold and concrete, the flurry of frustrated commuters and the sound of roaring trains float away like a vague memory as I attempt to navigate the opulent walled city that is The Landmark. In the 1920s, guests were chauffeured to the centre of the hotel by horse and carriage - yes, it's incredibly spacious.
I have to cross the fabulous and slightly surreal central atrium to get to the reception and suddenly I'm transported to an Agatha Christie novel and the splendour of the roaring twenties. The surrounding walls seem to touch the sky and I'm feeling even shorter than usual. Finally I make it to reception, only to realise I've taken the wrong entrance, hence the educational journey to destination reception. It takes a while to check-in. I'm asked to sign something, which I swiftly notice, has somebody else's name on it and a hefty hotel charge. The mix-up is resolved quickly, but doesn't inspire trust - not the finer of first impressions.
My studio room is huge, a sufficient space for a lengthy stay with more than ample storage, and a vast bed that looks longingly at me. I'm not entirely keen on the design of the room and some of the furnishings seem superfluous, but I do love the floor to ceiling windows and the cosy atmosphere. The roomy bathroom is a real treat and I feel spoilt with both a shower and bath to choose from. Less impressive are the mediocre toiletries and bathroom amenities - a bit of a let down for a hotel that boasts opulence and luxury. The mandatory Nespresso machine sits proudly alongside the usual tea and coffee supplies, though the UHT milk thimbles are a fry cry from the elegant standards the hotel is striving to uphold.
My guest arrives and we head over to the Winter Garden restaurant in the central atrium, for a taste of Michelin star chef Mark Poynton's cutting-edge gastronomy. The Chef Patron of award winning restaurant Alimentum, in Cambridge is only resident at The Landmark until 8 December, so it's makes sense to choose the Winter Garden this evening over the hotel's other restaurant TwoTwentyTwo. I choose to start with the Smoked haddock, Potato veloute, mustard and fried hens egg, followed by Braised leek, burnt leek puree, salad of pearl barley, truffle and spring onion and for dessert, the Baked yoghurt, cherry, pistachio and tarragon granite.
Dinner is a classically formal but gentle affair. Our waiter is polite and generously attentive and is happy to discuss the menu and offer recommendations. My haddock starter is excellent, and the leek main, though tasty, fails to excite my palette. But it's the pre-dessert and my chosen dessert that reign victorious - my baked yoghurt is a concoction of delightful textures and beautiful flavours and as with the latter courses, comes perfectly portioned. Expect to be effortlessly indulged at the Winter Garden.
I'm not entirely won over by the The Landmark, but its unique charm, awe-inspiring interior and adventurous gastronomy will have me returning to enjoy the exquisite afternoon tea menu.
The Landmark is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection. Double rooms start from £215. For more information or to book, please visit http://ghotw.com/landmark-london or call 020 7380 3658.
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