On March 1, the ME London officially opened at the southern tip of Covent Garden. It’s the luxury brand of the Spanish hotel group Meliá. It’s now their flagship property and their fifth hotel with a sixth property opening soon in Vienna.
The hotel is unique and hip, and here are my 10 reasons why you might want to stay here:
1. Location. The hotel is in a perfect location if you want to be close to the action. It’s within walking distance to most of the city’s attractions, theatres and shops. In fact, Covent Garden is a couple blocks away, “The Lion King” is playing a hundred yards away and so is “Mama Mia”.
I walked practically everywhere I needed to go and when I couldn’t take the cold I took The Tube (subway). The Charring Cross station is a short ten minute walk. Some of my highlights included walking along the River Thames to visit the European Union’s tallest building, The Shard. I went on a movie walking tour to see all of the nearby locations used in some of my favorite films, I walked to have afternoon tea with a colleague and then up to the Palladium Theatre to see “A Chorus Line” by myself. Tip: Bring some good walking shoes, a pocket umbrella and dress in layers.
2. Architecture. The ME London was designed by award-winning Foster + Partners. Each of the floor layouts are designed around a central Nero Marquina marble pyramid spanning throughout all 10 floors of the hotel. The ground floor is a public space where a team of bellman and concierges are eager to help. Near their desk is the Marconi Lounge, named after a great telecommunications innovator who had a telegraph station at this location in the 1920s. Also noteworthy: This location was also used for BBC broadcasts.
3. Lobby. Arriving guests are escorted to the second floor (a key card is required to access the elevators) where they will no doubt be intrigued by the dark, futuristic lobby that has jellyfish, pyramids, and celestial images projected on the triangle walls. It’s really something and was created by Blow Factory, a Paris-based company.
4. Rooms. ME London has 157 rooms, including 16 suites. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes but all have black marble flooring and walls, white leather panels and dark grey carpets. There’s a comfortable bed with ridiculously cozy sheets and pillows. There’s a 46-inch interactive TV, working desk with a built-in bank of plugs, chargers and adaptors. Other touches include Nespresso machines and artfully displayed mini-bars that sell local products including ‘Alien Attack’ treats from Hattie & Blythe – a mom & pop candy shop just up the street.
5. High tech lighting. Rooms are high-tech with the exception of the curtains — they aren’t electric and aren’t easily moveable. However, to control the lighting and temperature throughout the room(s) you can do it from the touch of a button on one of the electronic panels. To give you an idea how sexy the hotel is there’s even a “Sexy” lighting option that offers dimmed lights with either a touch of blue, green, pink, red or violet shade.
6. The bathrooms. The bathrooms are a good size and come with spa-like rain showers and Apivita natural toiletries (they have the best mouthwash ever). I was in a 75-square meter Passion Suite which came with a tub bigger than my childhood neighbor’s kiddy pool. I also appreciate the long fluffy towels but house keeping kept replacing them even when I left them hanging.
7. ‘Aura Host’. Those with suites get an ‘Aura Host’ at your service 24/7 to arrange anything you need. The most impressive part of her job is that she writes a welcome message on the bathroom mirror in – get this – lipstick! Now that’s hot.
8. The views. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows for excellent views of the city. The higher floors, especially the 10th, where Radio the amazing roof-terrace bar is, have jaw dropping views of the new London Skyline, Thames River and Somerset House (a great place to have a quiet picnic in the summer).
9. Breakfast. Rates include breakfast at Cucina Asellina which serves rustic Italian food. I was surprised that rather than doing a buffet they serve an onslaught of dishes that begins with a fruit plate, followed by a cheese board with cured meats, a basket of pastries, tea/coffee, juice of the day (my favorite was lychee and pineapple) and a choice of cereal or eggs. Note: You can order other breakfast dishes but there’s an extra charge.
10. STK steakhouse and grill. For a more upscale experience you can dine at the dimly lit STK steakhouse and grill located on the ground floor. The food and service were really good but I didn’t love the loud background rock music. However, their bread topped with blue cheese is addicting and their steaks are perfectly cooked and can be cut with a butter knife.
Side note: My Welsh waitress just returned from Atlanta where she got a guns and bacon tattoo on her arm. I can’t remember the whole story but she said her American friend got mugged so he went and bought a gun and I don’t remember the rest.
As you can see this hotel is quite unique and has a lot of sex appeal. They are definitely targeting the younger, more affluent market. I think older generations will find it too hip, dark and probably won’t be able to figure out the lighting controls. I’m in between and enjoyed it. The only thing that needs improving is polishing up their service (it’s a new hotel so that’s expected) and I kept hearing noises in my room either from the hotel creaking, speaker system or the heat or air conditioning.
ME London, 337 The Strand, London WC2R 1HA (0845 6018980). Rack rates begin at £270.
GOOD TO KNOW: I flew from Berlin to London via Copenhagen on SAS since it was a lot cheaper than the nonstops. As usual, with Heathrow’s congestion we had to circle for thirty minutes or so. When I landed the trip became a lot smoother because I walked directly to the Heathrow Express train and took it to London Paddington. Heathrow Express is not the cheapest way into the city (The Tube) but it is the quickest. It departs every 15 minutes and takes 15 minutes to go 15 miles. I can throw one more 15 in since the train service is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary this year.
When I arrived to Paddington I jumped on the Bakerloo Line and went seven? stops to Charing Cross Station. From there, it’s a quick 10-minute walk to ME London on the Strand (it’s across from One Aldwych Hotel and near where “The Lion King” is playing. Tip: If you are planning to take a lot of public transportation get an Oyster Card to save money.