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Review: The Cumberland, Marble Arch, London, UK

The Cumberland regained its old name in May, having spent a number of years as the Hard Rock Hotel London. But, despite the name change, the musical associations of the 900-room hotel, which was the last official residence of Jimi Hendrix and home to the original Hard Rock Cafe, still remain. In fact, musical references abound, from the hotel’s logo (a ‘C’ set against the shape of a guitar pluck) to the “It’s Oh So Quiet” do-not-disturb signs (a nod to a song by Betty Hutton, and later Björk).

The hotel is owned by Clermont Hotel Group, said to the largest owner-operator in London by room count. The group was formerly known as GLH Hotels and as Guoman before that.

The welcome

I arrived at the hotel at around 8am – far too early for check-in, but so that I could drop off my luggage and go about my day without taking it with me everywhere. The concierge staff were very accommodating, providing me with a ticket so that I could re-claim my stored luggage on my return.

That evening, re-united with my luggage, I went to check-in. I was staying in a Star Suite and, once reception had established this, immediately led to a second ‘hidden’ and more intimate reception behind closed doors, and invited to take a seat with a glass of Champagne. This private ‘Backstage’ lounge was an unexpected perk, comes with unlimited refreshments and snacks, and is available to guests staying in executive rooms and suites.

The room

I was shown to my Star Suite (Room 8005) by Angelica, who kindly helped with my luggage. I would normally have been happy to carry it myself but, with an unexpectected glass of Champagne, some paperwork and my room keys in hand, that had suddenly become a little more challenging.

The suite spans 45 square metres and comes with a super-comfortable King size Hypnos bed. It can in fact sleep up to 4 people as the sofa in the lounge can double up as a sofa bed.

It must be over 30 years – maybe almost 40 – since I’ve actually played a vinyl record, but in the room is a Crosley turntable and a box full of vinyl, containing everything from Blur’s Park Life to Black Stone Cherry live from The Royal Albert Hall, as well as a Fender guitar and Marshall amplifier.

“Welcome, Paul!” is written on a mirror that doubles as a height chart, with markings ranging from Snoop-Dogg (6’4″) to Ariana Grande (5’0″). At 6’0″, I share the same height as George Michael and Stevie Wonder. The walls are also adorned with pictures of Amy Winehouse and Bryan May.

Room amenities include bath robes and slippers, a complimentary minibar that is re-stocked up to three times per day, a Nespresso machine, a separate lounge area, and all the other modcons you might expect.

On drawing back the curtains, I discover I have an impressive view of the London Eye.

The bathroom

The bathroom is airy and light, with floor to ceiling tiles, and a separate bath and rainfall shower.

Essentiel Elements toiletries are provided – a Gilchrist & Soames brand that contains high-grade essential oils, with no synthetic fragrances or dyes, creating products that nourish the body while awakening the senses.

The facilities

One of the things that strikes you about the hotel on the arrival is the enormous foyer area. At the time of my visit, the centre of this was occupied by a London cab, providing guests with a fun photo opportunity; but to the left is a large area taken up by the SOUND Café, billed as ‘3 venues in one’ since it serves as a sports bar, live music venue and a café serving food and drink.

The dining is very informal – I took a place at the bar where it was a little bit brighter for taking photographs. Pictured is the salt and pepper calamari, deep-fried and served with a chive and garlic mayonnaise.

My main was a prime New York strip steak, topped with a herb butter and spicy shrimp, and served with triple-cooked chips, grilled mushroom and tomato, along with a Caesar side salad. I asked for the steak ‘very rare’ and it was cooked perfectly.

Downstairs in the basement is ‘The Green Room’ where a buffet breakfast is served each morning, and there’s an also an omelette station if you’d prefer something made to order.

The location

Conveniently situated at a crossroads in the heart of London’s bustling West End, The Cumberland is just moments away from the city’s iconic Marble Arch, often considered the gateway to London’s culture, commerce and entertainment. Just yards from Marble Arch Underground station on the Central Line and with Hyde Park and Oxford Street’s world-renowned shopping both only a leisurely stroll away (it’s only 5 minutes to Selfridges), the hotel is superbly positioned.

Other nice touches

The Cumberland looked after me exceptionally well. In my room was a bottle of fizz, a plate of fresh fruit and some complimentary chocolates. 

The cost

Double and twin rooms start from £199 per night.
Star Suites start from £455 per night.

The best bit

The exclusivity of the check-in was very unexpected. It gave a wonderful first impression, and the backstage lounge served as a peaceful oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of the main foyer.

The final verdict

Seamlessly combining modern sophistication with classic elegance, my stay at The Cumberland was a thoroughly enjoyable one. The hotel’s stylish decor, spacious Star suites and attentive service create a welcoming atmosphere for guests in the heart of the city.

Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by The Cumberland.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. The “Backstage” lounge is a really useful facility. Often when I’m working I want a drink and a snack without wasting time going to a cafe. It’s a thoughtful touch.

  2. There was an off the wall Sky Arts comedy in the Urban Myths series about Jimi Hendrix living in a house over 200 years after Handel had lived there.

    Both were struggling with the problems of the music business and Hendrix claimed to have seen Hansel’s ghost. Could this be the building where it all happened?

  3. Pleasing to see that the hotel is keeping on its musical heritage with the record player and its vinyl. The music art also keeps alive the links to the Hard Rock legacy. Too many hotels are too keen to sweep away their past.

  4. I go to London 3 or 4 times a year for afternoon tea and then the theatre. Then as it’s too late to get back to the sticks I stay in a humble hotel room. Nothing ever as spacious as this. Being a travel blog editor does have its perks.

    1. Hi Janet – it certainly does and I never take it for granted, but there’s also an awful lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that you might not realise…

  5. Last time I stayed in London must have been long before the pandemic. I ‘d forgotten about the views that you get from some hotel windows. Time that I went back. Even at my age I still get excited about all the Christmas lights.

    1. Hi Jim – thanks for stopping by. You’d have been impressed by the light display at John Lewis on Oxford Street, less than a mile from the hotel. Quite a sight! Also the window displays at Selfridges were impressive too.

  6. Sorry to hear that The Hard Rock Cafe has gone. When I was in my 20s and living in London I had some great nights there. But times move on and I think that the Cumberland is probably now better suited to my evenings in London nowadays.

  7. That is some location. Hyde Park nearby if you feel the need to clear your head with a breath of fresh air and the Central Line virtually on your doorstep to take you into the heart of London.

  8. As I get older the more I get into informal dining. Especially if I’ve travelled into London, which isn’t an easy journey, I want meals to be easy going.

    1. Hi Freya – you would certainly get that at The Cumberland. You can turn up in jeans and T-shirt, watch a football match whilst you eat, etc. and nobody would bat an eyelid.

  9. The management at the new look Cumberland have obviously got their finger on the pulse changing things up with the taxi Photo Booth and live music. It may be my personal taste but I always find that a sports bar brings a buzz as it breaks down barriers giving people something to talk about.

    1. Hi Paul – the black cab is a British icon so I’m not surprised it served as quite an attraction! I didn’t look closely but it had fancy livery on the outside and has apparently had a special makeover inside too.

  10. Most hotels are working to make check-in less officious. The last thing you need after travel is a Gestapo interrogation on a 2 page form. The most relaxed check-in that I’ve experienced was in India where a very gracious lady in a safari took us directly to our suite, had afternoon tea delivered and gently completed check-in.

    1. That sounds very civilised, Lorna! I did like the check-in at The Cumberland, not least because it was completely unexpected. I wasn’t quite sure where I was been ushered at first!

  11. My strangest musical experience was in a hotel overlooking Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.

    Every time I opened my door I got a few bars of “Celebration” by Kool and The Gang “There’s a party going on right here.”

    On the dressing table there was a little shrine to Kool and the Gang as one of the band had once stayed in that room.

    It took me a day to work out how to avoid being serenaded with “Celebrate good times” every time I opened my door.

  12. An interesting recommendation. I do some business around that part of town. I’ll give the Cumberland a try the next time I’m on business there.

  13. We often head for London in the run-up to Christmas not really for Christmas shopping, more just to enjoy the lights and the festive spirit. It’s a nice time of year to walk along the south bank smelling the toasting chestnuts and sipping a hot mulled wine. Thanks for this recommendation it looks like a nice relaxed place to stay – especially if we get a back-stage pass. And yes, there might just be a few presents that come back in our case.

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