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Marriott operates over 6,000 properties, and only 69 of them are in its highest points echelon, Category 9. Of those, seven are in London, and among them only one is in its upper-upscale boutique brand: Autograph Collection: Threadneedles. What began as a Victorian bank in 1856 was reintroduced to the world in 2002 as a five-star luxury hotel that, according to its website “exudes grandeur in a thoroughly modern way.”
After earning 80,000 points from the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card bonus (I jumped the gun, as the 100,000-point bonus offer came along later), I was close to being able to stay two nights at this property for free.
Arrival and Check-In
There was no one at the front to open the door or help with bags, but it was just a few steps from the entrance to the front desk. The lobby area was striking. Headlined by a stained-glass dome atop circular columns, this was an impressive place to meet your friends or colleagues for a drink, either under the dome or in the adjoining bar and restaurant. With cut marble floors, dark wood walls and smart lighting, Threadneedles made a great first impression with its rich and handsome design.
That’s right, a headless/armless/legless mannequin guarded the corner for no discernible reason other than to dominate my nightmares.
Though the design impressed initially, it didn’t take long to find fault. The big gray chairs were stylish and probably very expensive, but one blocked the only full-length mirror, and the other faced away from its partner. The marble side table was smudged and stained from prior use.
The view also left something to be desired. While it was neat to see the lobby’s dome from a different perspective, it was otherwise drab and confined. This feeling was made worse by the poor lighting — no lights in the closet, small light for the shower, no general overhead lighting and no markings for the many switches. The windows were difficult to open, though the air conditioning worked well on what turned out to be very hot days.
The real delight was the bathroom, with a robe hung over a warming rack, a roomy shower with fantastic rainfall and handheld heads, and enormous bath towels. But the counter space was minimal — I travel light and I still didn’t have enough room — and the illuminated mirror didn’t illuminate.
I didn’t get a sense of Wheeler’s restaurant but the dapper Champagne Bar was often bustling, especially with the after-work business and banking crowd. Room service was available 24 hours a day.
To the Point
This is a great-looking hotel in a part of town that’s still easy to get to but devoid of tourist crowds. (More than one London friend was surprised that a visiting American was staying in this neighborhood.)
A pamphlet in my room boasted of the Autograph Collection as “exactly like nothing else,” and I think that fits Threadneedles — but probably not in the way Marriott intended. A stay at Threadneedles is not quite luxury, but it’s not quite value. There’s no real sense of place. Even if my room had views of the street, there’s nothing terribly Londonish or British or European about this hotel (aside from the room size and the price).
Know before you go.
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