By Ralph Zhou
Beds of roses or an ivory tower — often we tend to associate these with luxury hotels, in Beijing, Shanghai, and also in other cities. We often tend to think of these as in skyscrapers. In London, there’s a luxury hotel with special characteristics — 7 converted townhouses which took 7 years to convert. The result now is a luxury hotel unlike any other that my partner and I have experienced before.
This is The Arch Hotel in the West End of London. If you wanted to live in the lap of luxury with London characteristics — in old-style but also very luxurious houses, with a lot of character — then this must be for you. It is like living in a town house, not the kinds of skyscraper-hotels we’re used to in China, and thus its uniqueness has made it an award-winning establishment. But no expense is spared here in making it as luxurious as possible. And given how close it is to the commercial heart of London — within literally a stone’s throw from Bond Street, Oxford Street, Mayfair, the West End, and Hyde Park. As we arrived to the hotel, we were given a very good welcome by reception. “There must be good morale here, you can see it shine through by the warmness of all the staff,” my partner said.
When we entered our room, it felt much more like an upper-class home than the usual hotel room, with beautiful furniture and a huge bed waiting for us. There is an extensive amount of detail paid to quality and making everything unique in these rooms. The bathroom was almost as big as the room itself, with eloquent fittings, quality toiletries and a steam free mirror. This is a experience you cannot really get even in the most luxurious of hotels in China — until you set foot and come here to London. In Chinese, there is a saying about “coming closer to the ground to experience the real thing”, and The Arch here in London gets us exactly to this. I feel like I am an English gent for the day due to the atmosphere.
If this hotel would have a name change, I would definitely suggest it changes its name to ‘The Considerate Hotel’. Everything about The Arch has been so carefully thought out in an immaculate setting. I was not at all surprised to hear that the head house keeper was runner up in a well known hotelier award for house keeping. There was a cot for our baby with a toy, and the first hotel we have stayed in where they provided a baby bathrobe, it was so cute.
After depositing our bags and feeling the sheer size of the bed, we then went to have lunch at Hunter 486, the restaurant here at The Arch. The food is incredibly well-priced, with a selection of all day options, as well as mains with special characteristics. I chose the option of fish of the day which was cooked to perfection, my partner had the roast chicken. For those who obviously want to taste the UK made famous by President Xi’s quick stop for fish and chips, they have this on the menu as well. You can judge the quality of a restaurant by the food they serve to children. My son ordered chicken nuggets which were made fresh from the kitchen with a lovely light batter. We followed all this up with some delightful desert. The customer service in the restaurant was truly delightful, with Giovanni (the waiter who served us) attending to our every need.
The wine selection is very extensive, and caters for all visitors across all budgets. My partner and I had a few gin and tonics to go with our meal. People can also come here for the afternoon tea, which comes with a big assortment of options, both in terms of tea and snacks to go with the typical Great British afternoon tea. It is also a good option for you to start mornings with, as the breakfast menu features both a full English breakfast, a continental buffet, and more options to pick from the a la carte breakfast. Finally, if you are in for luxury for lots of friends, there is also the option of private dining, with specific private dining menus. The environment for dining is luxurious, spacious, and high-quality, not unlike the Chinese colloquialism “gao, da, shang” (luxurious, spacious, and high-quality). You might also wish to know that the number 486 (in the name of this restaurant) is the 1950s dialling code for the nearby area of Marylebone.
One thing nice about this hotel is that they have commissioned pieces of art displayed around the hotel, which adds a contemporary feel to a classic building. There is a colourful piece of art near the reception which is made up of logos representing the fashion brands near the hotel. On another corridor, there are a collection of 26 photos of buildings around London, each one looking like a letter from the alphabet.
If you want a real “gao, da, shang” experience in the British capital — a hotel which actually goes beyond a hotel — try The Arch in London. It is indeed for the more “gao, da, shang” ones amongst us. As Oxford street is only a few minutes walk, I think it’s time to do what we Chinese love the most… Shopping.