Hotel Review: The London EDITION
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Earlier this year, TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne stayed one night at The London EDITION in the West End, a property in a luxury brand that allows you to redeem Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Rewards — and this is her experience of the property. (All photos by the author.)
After The Points Guy enjoyed a one-night stay at The London EDITION last Christmas, I was eager to check out it out for myself. Following my own whirlwind trip through three European countries earlier this year, a mid-morning flight home from Heathrow to LAX gave me the perfect excuse to stop at The London EDITION for a night. Happily, I met up there with TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen, who'd also been traveling on the Continent and would fly home with me the next day.
The London EDITION is the third property in Marriott/Ritz-Carlton's EDITION brand, the result of a partnership with hotelier Ian Schrager — the man credited with pioneering the modern boutique luxury hotel. With Schrager's name attached, I was expecting non-stop glitz and glamour, but aside from some pretty cutting-edge modern art installations and a truly splendid dining room, I found an understated property that honors its 19th-century roots with beautifully preserved Georgian architectural details; the previous tenant, the 1908 Berners Hotel, was originally built in 1835 as five private townhouses.
Opened in September 2013 as the EDITION, it's a hip addition to the largely residential Fitzrovia neighborhood, which is set about a mile north of Trafalgar Square, close to the shops on Oxford and Regent streets and the West End theater scene. If you're not into the frenetic pace of Oxford Street just a block away, you can easily head in the opposite direction to find local pubs and quietly stylish restaurants.
At this Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Tier 3 property (two tiers below the Miami and New York EDITION properties), room rates generally start at about $360 or 50,000 Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton Rewards points per night; this summer, though, redemptions of 40,000 points per night are available for Guest and Superior rooms on various dates in July and August.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Marriott Rewards are interchangeable — if you’re enrolled in one of these programs, you’re automatically enrolled in both — and they're both 1:1 partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which are earned with Chase cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus. (Though I'm a Marriott Silver Elite, transferring Ultimate Rewards are generally my redemption method of choice, as I use my Sapphire Preferred for just about everything.)
The one free night you'd get upon the first anniversary of having the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (and/or its business version) cannot be used here, unfortunately, though you can redeem the two free nights you'd get with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card (valid at Tier 1-4 properties). The latter also offers complimentary Marriott Gold status for the first year, giving you access to complimentary room upgrades when available.
Upon arriving on a Tuesday afternoon in early March, I was warmly greeted at the front door by a handsome young Spanish man who offered to take my baggage and escort me across the also-handsome lobby to the front desk, where he introduced me to two more staff members who were also friendly, professional and from Madrid. I'd soon find that most of the EDITION staff are from other European countries, and never did come across a British accent; this international air of mystery only added to the hipness factor — though admittedly, I do love to hear a nice London lilt.
Check-in at the front desk was a breeze, but since I'd arrived 15 minutes before my room was ready, I took the opportunity to take in the casual weekday-afternoon scene in the high-ceilinged, carved-plaster-trimmed lobby: A few distinguished white-haired gentlemen playing billiards, some couples/friends/colleagues parked on modern velvet-upholstered couches and in wingback leather chairs with tea or cocktails, a fire roaring in the baronial stone fireplace and a few lone travelers perched in a sitting area near the Berners Tavern restaurant (more on that later), reading coffee table books and magazines. It had the feel of a private club crossed with an English country house, and I was way into it.
The 173-room Edition has four types of rooms — Guest, Superior, Deluxe and Loft — as well as a penthouse. My Deluxe room felt large at 355 square feet, but had I been sharing with someone else, the space would have felt just right. Included were several bottles of water and blazing-fast free Wi-Fi (a perk now available to all Marriott Rewards members).
The same charming Spaniard who'd greeted me downstairs also escorted me to my room on the second floor, and proceeded to show me its every nook, cranny and feature — including the impressively elaborate mini-bar, which was stocked with all sorts of artisanal goodies. While the staff at the London EDITION may not be locally sourced, its snacks certainly are.
The closet and drawer space is sleekly arranged, but ample; had I felt like unpacking, I could have easily fit everything I'd brought in the spaces provided. Tucked into the closet was a full-size brolly and two super-plush robes, one of which I put one on right away; when Eric buzzed up an hour later to say he'd checked in, I was momentarily bummed that I had to take it off and get dressed in real clothes.
Aside from the windows' views of Georgian and Edwardian buildings and hansom cabs on the street below, the room had a pan-European vibe; unlike the quintessentially British scene downstairs, if you didn't know you were in a hotel room in London, you might think you were in any number of major cities.
The king bed was laid with the EDITION's signature tan faux-fur throw, and a huge 46" flat-screen HDTV was positioned high above it. (The TV remote was easy to use, and once I found a silly reality show called Made in Chelsea, I ceased to wonder if I was in London, after all.) I slept like a dream in this bed, which engulfed me like a feather-lined burrito; if you have to hop out of bed early for any reason, you might want to set an alarm to snooze a couple times so as not to shock your system.
If I had a little more time at the hotel, I'd have been tempted to stretch out in the room's neutral armchair/ottoman — a cushy, cloth-upholstered spin on a classic club chair that was angled to catch the daylight — and spend a few hours reading.
With its tall windows, walls of dark wood and white plaster, and its blonde-wood floors, the room really did have a calm, library feel; however, shiny metal globe lamps and a gilt-framed photo of a woman with a 16th-century-style Dutch cap made of tin-foil took it from studious to fun.
Less fun? The lighting system of brass wall-switches that I gather are supposed to feel "retro," but simply annoyed me as I cycled through all their directions/functions, turning lights on, off and on again all over the room before finding the perfect sequence. And though there was an electrical outlet beside the bed and another on the long table beside the windows, there wasn't one in the bathroom, so I plugged in the hair dryer by the entrance hallway mirror and perched on the floor to dry my long hair. Not so luxe.
The huge, bright and outlet-free bathroom was a sea of white porcelain tile, with a fair amount of shelf and counter space (hallelujah), Le Labo products and an enclosed rainforest shower big enough for three people — should that be your idea of a great stay.
Once Eric arrived and settled into his own room, we met in the lobby, took a recommendation from the front desk, and headed to the nearby, delightful and all-day-dining Riding House Cafe for a small-plates snack and a glass of wine. Before heading out, we snuck a peek at the EDITION's Berners Tavern restaurant, which wasn't yet open for dinner at roughly 4pm; this would be the closest we got to a meal here, as we'd been unable to get a reservation.
Open to the public as well as to hotel guests, less than six months after opening Berners Tavern was already renowned for its eye-candy design, classic British comfort food created by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton (who also helms the restaurant at The New York EDITION), and celebrity clientele; snagging a table here can still require a month's notice or more. Even if you don't dine here, though, be sure to check out its glowing yellow bar lights and wall-to-wall framed portraits of famous and seemingly famous folk (both of which are EDITION design signatures).
In the early evening, we had a few friends meet us in the hotel's cozy back bar, The Punch Room, which feels like a gentlemen's club where women are more than welcome. Available only by reservation, it offers plenty of little seating areas, another fireplace, a snooker table and exclusive punch cocktails. It's not a particularly sexy spot to visit before nightfall, but its intimate space feels even more intimate when dimly lit. During our multi-hour hang-out with local friends we hadn't seen in ages, we were made to feel welcome and never hurried; of special note was the friendly Italian bartender who was happy to custom-create cocktails using our favorite spirits. It was all very civilized, without being snobby.
With an early departure for the train to Heathrow, I treated myself to a room-service breakfast of coffee and crumpets. Or at least I thought it would be crumpets plural, assuming that for about $10, I'd get two muffins — but no. Fortunately, my singular crumpet was delicious, buttery and paired with British preserves, the also roughly $10 pot of coffee was rich and dark, and the service was quick, polite and seamless. Should you have more time, the full breakfast (either American- or British-style) downstairs in Berners Tavern is £26 (about $40).
There's no spa at the EDITION, and though the 24-hour fitness center is pretty basic, it manages not to feel like a afterthought. There's plenty of space on the floor and between machines, and beverages, headphones and towels are available so that you don't have to traipse through the hotel with all your stuff.
I absolutely loved the hip/aristocratic vibe of the lobby, the comfort and quiet of my room, the creative cocktails at the Punch Room, and the warmth and attentiveness of the well-trained staff. Rather than a property that was just shy of 18 months old, it felt as though it had been on the London scene for ages — more like its predecessor, the Berners Hotel. It's an ideal place to meet for drinks, even in the popular West End, where you're spoiled for choice. If you were able to score a table at Berners Tavern, it would be a real coup to be able to drift upstairs after a rich, hearty meal. The lack of a spa and its entrance on a small but busy side street keep it from reaching the luxurious heights of Mayfair, but for a redemption of only 50,000 points — 20,000 less than the American EDITIONs — it offers plenty of elegance and a great location. I'd happily stay here again.