T’was the weekend before Christmas and Dexter and I had been invited to review the new Amba Hotel in Marble Arch. It’s not often we stay overnight in London so thought we’d make a weekend of it.
We headed up to London by train on the Sunday afternoon and as per, Southeast Trains very kindly put a bus service on because of engineering works, but we got to London at midday. I had spent ages looking for somewhere special to have Afternoon Tea and there are so many nice places we could have gone to but quite frankly, £65 ahead is ridiculous for a few sandwiches and a cup of tea. (I know it’s more than a few sandwiches but I still think it’s ridiculous.) Anyway, after shopping around I settled on the Grosvenor Hotel which is right by Victoria station so I figured if we went there it would mean Dexter could eat sooner rather than later … ergo, less moaning. Win/win.
We got there nearly an hour early (we were that hungry) so we just had a potter around the hotel before being taken into the lounge area. We were the first ones there and were seated right by the window so that we could see the world go by or, in Dexter’s case, wave to tourists on open topped buses! Hours of fun. For us, them … not so much.
Afternoon Tea was perfect. Delicious Christmas themed food which included turkey and cranberry sandwiches, and Christmas pudding cheesecake. Dexter, not so much a fan of sandwiches that aren’t egg mayonnaise, asked for a plate of said sandwiches and the manager was more than happy to bring him over anything that he wanted. In fact, the service was impeccable throughout and we left an hour and a half later, sated and happy and as round as Christmas puddings. As an aside, we also managed to forget our suitcase and had to run back for that, but it’s a lovely way to while away a couple of hours.
It was time to check-in to our hotel for the night but for some strange reason I had it in my head that we were staying at the Amba Hotel in Charing Cross. A £10 pound taxi ride later, and we tried to check-in. Even before the receptionist said there was no reservation for us, I realised I’d made a bit of a faux pas and another £10 taxi ride later, we finally arrived at our correct destination!
The Amba Marble Arch is right on Oxford Street above Next and opposite Primark – it couldn’t be any more central if you’re a fan of shopping. We struggled a bit trying to work out how to get in, but you just need to go to the back of Next into Bryant Street and the entrance is very clear once you know where you’re going! The foyer is a bit of an unusual set-up insofar as you have to go up the escalator to the first floor which is where reception is. The hotel has only (in the last month) changed names and been refurbished so everything was brand-new and sparkly with Christmas decorations.
Instead of just one big reception desk, there are several smaller desks with plenty of staff to help you check-in. The lady that dealt with us couldn’t have been more helpful or more friendly and within five minutes we were in our room.
We had very kindly been upgraded to an executive twin room and it really was rather lovely. There was an office area with a desk and iPad on it, a lounge area with a sofa facing the massive 50″ TV on the wall, and two single beds behind the sofa. It was a little disappointing that they were single twin beds as opposed to 2 double beds, which is what I’ve had in other hotels, but that’s just because I’m not built for a single bed! The beds were very comfortable, with plenty of pillows and a high quality quilt.
There was a lovely touch on the lounge coffee table, which was a personal Christmas card to Dexter and myself with a small parcel of macaroons. I think those little touches are what differentiates run-of-the-mill hotels with upmarket hotels that care about their customers, and it was very much appreciated. (And totally not shared with Dexter.)
There was also a Nespresso coffee machine in the room with three coffee pods, along with two very stylish glass espresso cups. Having never used a machine like this before, it took me a while to realise that I would probably get a lot further if I put water in the machine! But once I figured that out I went through 3 cups of coffee in an hour which set me up for heading out onto Oxford Street with Dexter four days before Christmas!
I’ve made a little video about our day in London, including a room tour:
We umm’ed and aah’ed about where to go for dinner because the hotel itself does offer several options – The Grill, The Deli and The Lounge, but Dexter had been nagging me for months to take him to Five Guys so who am I to argue?
It was a real battle walking down Oxford Street but it’s so pretty at Christmas that I really didn’t mind the hustle and bustle and 15 minutes later we arrived at Five Guys, ate our food and headed back to the hotel.
The bathroom in our hotel room is quite small for an executive room I would say but it had everything we needed, including a shower over the bath, and luxury toiletries. I also found a dressing gown and slippers in the wardrobe but completely forgot to wear them.
Another highlight for us staying in this executive room was a free REFILLABLE minibar, but as other parents will know, especially single parents, you can’t really drink (at least not that much) when you’re having to be responsible (boo!) so I just had a Diet Coke, but it was a nice added extra and something I will definitely take advantage of if I went back on my own!
We both slept well and headed down to breakfast where everything you would expect is on offer. We were seated near an unusually noisy group of people which was somewhat annoying, but I suppose it’s difficult for staff to decide whether to say anything or not, and on this occasion they didn’t. Once the noisy group left, we could hear ourselves think and enjoy our food a lot more. There was an omelette station, which I tried out, delicious it was too, and Dexter had sausages which he didn’t really like, but I think he may have put too much salt on them if I’m honest!
One slightly disappointing thing was that we are big waffle fans and were very excited to see some on offer, but I had the last of one batch which were cold, and Dexter had the first ones of a new batch, which were also stone cold. It’s only a small thing and I’m sure if we’d have said something they would have reheated them for us, but it was a little annoying. There is a great selection of pastries and fresh fruits on offer and surprisingly I didn’t do my usual thing of nabbing half a dozen pain au raisins in a napkin to take upstairs with me. (I’m so classy.)
Check-out was as easy as check-in and we left our room by 12pm and made our way to Warner Brothers for a Hogwarts at Christmas Harry Potter tour. What a journey that was, but I might save that for another blog post!
I said to Dexter would he like to make going to London every Christmas a tradition and (of course) he is totally up for that so I think we may well go back to the Amba next Christmas. The location is great, the service even better and London is just magical at Christmas so I would highly recommend staying there.