Review: the St Martin’s Lane hotel in the heart of Theatreland is a wonderful place to indulge in a bit of vanity, says Adam Bloodworth
We’re all getting more narcissistic. No guesses why. But I did manage to shut down Instagram and Zoom for a moment recently to check into the St Martin’s Lane hotel in the West End. I’d heard they had really great mirrors in the rooms, so I could be vain IRL rather than online. Great, we love new experiences.
A bit of rest and relaxation, I thought, in a prime central location. My room was, as I’d heard, stunning. All glistening in pristine white like the set of a fashion shoot, when I walked in I was met by a frankly formidable mirror. I’m six foot two and it felt double my height, leaning provocatively against the bedroom wall. “Dare you to look at me” it said, so I drank the bottle of white wine in the fridge and turned some music on.
Increasingly, we’re looking for our hotel experiences to offer something different. Be it an urban safari, a hot tub overlooking the Battersea Power Station or a room that feels more like an elaborate TV studio than a bed for the night, allowing you to become the star of your own show, competition has never been more fierce to stand out from the crowd.
Designer Philippe Starck (yep, him from the metal lemon squeezers that look like space ships) designed the St Martin’s Lane hotel as a “surrealist wonderland.” Opened in 1999 at the dawn of a new millennium, the hotel must have felt miraculously fresh then, because it still does today. In the larger-than-normal-sized rooms, funky lighting fixtures hang from the ceilings like little space ships, others dramatically accentuate corners, and all the furniture is exciting-feeling and different, mostly in a futuristic way.
In a word, it’s all great fun. Some west London hotels go for this vibe but end up making it feel pretentious. The St Martin’s Lane feels actually arty and it had been a grand ambition of mine to check in one day.
I had grand plans for my evening but sacked them off to prance about in my room in my robe. Forget the public, I have rarely had such a fun and memorable night in central London, and all I did was sit around. I peered out from my floor-to-ceiling window onto the back of the Coliseum between poses in the enormous mirror, then before long I realised the window wasn’t blacked out from the outside and, mortified, continued my party-for-one with the drapes shut.
Downstairs it’s more eccentric. Giant objects in primary colours, including massive chess pieces and, erm, teeth, are plonked around the foyer. A lobby restaurant (with good food) celebrates stars from Hollywood’s past. Blown up into giant pieces of art (of course) they’re almost the size of my bedroom mirror. It’s all a contrast to the less-than-playful outside of the building. From the street the hotel looks more like a cryingly dull ’70s office block – but that’s all part of the fun ’cause it makes the inside feel like a surprise.
At the table next to me for breakfast two Hollywood movie execs were discussing some upstart or other they saw on stage last night. Americans were everywhere. I can understand why: the St Martin’s Lane hotel is a dose of American eccentricity. It’s a rarity in London and an absolutely amazing – and hilariously fun – place to recharge for the night. If you ever feel your creativity isn’t being matched then go here. I promise it’s the sort of travel experience we’re all craving right now: something totally odd and beguiling.
View rooms at the St Martin’s Lane hotel