It is the height of sophistication not to have to wipe one’s own bottom. Having suspected this for quite some time, it came as both relief and vindication to find that over on Park Lane, deep, deep inside Mayfair’s Marriott, one doesn’t have to.
Because the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane doesn’t have a name conducive to graceful prose, but it does have the toilet I’d like to have when I grow up. The sort of contraption that people harp on about when they toddle off to Japan, it is basically a loo with buttons. Press one and a retractable spout pops out, spurts, washes your business, good to go. Another warms your rim. Another lets you adjust the adjustables. I even invited a few friends over for a dry run, all stood round in awe like a pygmy in front of a vending machine. Such a time was had, even after we’d discovered it doesn’t apply lipstick or talk dirty. Right now, my biggest disappointment in life is that I have to douche my own chuff.
My own private loo was deep, deep inside my Executive Suite, a place very deserving of a different moniker. Quite big and very cosy, the carpets matched the drapes with a richer take on this year’s pastels, where variations on purple and yellow sat prettily with the grey on grey on grey. I like grey. I also like whiskers on kittens and men. The bathroom was all marbly, and the products weren’t what you expect from a chain, i.e. lovely. Though the mirror and my face in it deserved better lighting, which is a particular bugbear of mine. I’m even compiling a list, which might eventually become a stocking-filler, The World’s Most Flattering Hotel Mirrors for Dummies. The Standard in West Hollywood has made the cut, as have The Connaught, the Belvedere in Mykonos and Tel Aviv’s Alma. The Beverly Wilshire in LA hasn’t. And of course that was just showing off.
There’s even a basement swimming pool which I didn’t go in because I was watching Saturday Kitchen, but my +1 did and +1 said it was lovely
The London Marriott Hotel Park Lane has just had a makeover costing hundreds of millions of pounds, or at least millions of pounds, and they’ve done a bloody good job. Because it’s tough shoehorning in character when you’ve got shareholders to please, and shareholders aren’t renowned for their taste in much, but whoever flirted their way towards this spit ’n’ polish deserves a funny tickle. Because LMHPL (it’s easier this way, right?) has come over all gentleman’s club, with a patina of wealth throughout and soft furnishings that tick this year’s hygge box. And there’s art everywhere, all original and quite pricey, some you’d even have in your own home. There’s even a basement swimming pool which I didn’t go in because I was watching Saturday Kitchen, but my +1 did and +1 said it was lovely. Someone also told me it’s the only hotel pool on Park Lane, and experience makes me believe that person.
Lanes of London, which you feel you’ve heard of – though alliteration does have that effect – is LMHPL’s signature restaurant, and comes with an anteroom that has armchairs and a log fire (see “gentleman’s club”, above). “I love your hair!” exclaimed the maître d’ as I, my +1 and my pampered bottom made our way to dinner, which was a lie because I rarely have good hair after Labor Day but flattery is the sincerest form of disingenuousness. I’m going to tell you what I ate for breakfast in about a minute’s time, so I won’t bother detailing the scallops and the salmon and the perfect red our waiter who was northern and mellifluous chose with aplomb, nor the wealthy man who walked in at around 10.30pm with a woman who looked like a knee.
To my left was a table full of three young Americans, high on precociousness. One was wearing a shirt with a fleece – or was it a fleece with a shirt? – and the sort of shoes you only ever see abandoned
There was international hotel music at breakfast the next morning, the drippy stuff as no royalties are made on. Has it been a minute yet? OK, so I had a crispy bacon and cheddar roll – barm, if you’re from where I’m from [oop north – Ed.] – which was tasty and delicious and different from the mainstream tat you get at most hotel breakfasts. To my right was a view of Marble Arch, gagging for a makeover that I hear is coming, sitting like a patch of male pattern baldness on the edge of Hyde Park. Take another right and you’re on Oxford Street; on one side is where people who drink Red Bull shop, on the other is Selfridges.
To my left was a table full of three young Americans, high on precociousness. One was wearing a shirt with a fleece – or was it a fleece with a shirt? – and the sort of shoes you only ever see abandoned. He was pontificating about Syria – because obviously! – while the chap opposite was, I guess, taking mental notes. A third was dressed like a child who’s just popped a dime into a mechanical fortune-teller at a fair and been magically turned into an adult. All had orange juice with bits in.
I’m just going to shove in a sidebar: some point during my stay, +1 and I ordered room service. It was quick, delivered with charm, and contained the best mushroom soup I’ve ever tasted in my life accompanied by what was essentially a chunk of fried garlic bread. I mean, last meal much?
While it’s true that everyone deserves nice things, I’m actually here to experience what LMHPL is calling “Mr Mayfair”, a weekend package that includes all of the above plus a session with very-British-tailors, Henry Herbert, after which you have the option to buy your own bespoke suit. Aimed at people richer than me, it’s clever and befitting (there’s your pun!) of the traveller who finds himself (or herself if you’re Diane Keaton), in London and in desperate need of something new for a meeting or a wedding or a gin and Dubonnet down Clarence House. This is the express service and your clobber will be delivered to you quicker than you can say “three-piece-suit made of specially-sourced fabrics from English and Scottish mills”. Alternatively, slightly more penny-pricewise, you can wait and get the suit sent over to wherever it is you are or pick it up on your next visit to London.
Your fitting is in your suite. Handy. Intimate. I had Charlie Baker-Collingwood, founder of Henry Herbert Tailors. You might too, or you might have one of his small team of very clever people. Charlie arrived on a Vespa (cute!) and was 6’4”. He had expensive hair and wore Obsession by Calvin Klein, which I haven’t smelt since 1992 and which made me long for my Lisa Stansfield tapes and an undercut. Charlie explained the process, because I’ve only ever seen a Savile Row-style fitting on Are You Being Served? and went in delicately. I’m bigger than I thought, reader, and came out with a card with all my measurements. I’ll show it you sometime.
“Mr Mayfair” also includes a shoe-shine, from The Jaunty Flâneur. I’m not sure if he chose that name or had it thrust on him, but flâneur was jaunty alright. Handsome and clever, he had been a journalist of 12 years’ standing at a leading socialist newspaper somewhere Eastie Europeanie and was now genuflecting in front of my Dr Martens. Brexit, people! The pathos/irony of the situation was almost as startling as my buff, which had turned my raddled old Oxfords patent, the result of an in-house style of rubbing the potions and lotions into your shoes bare-handed like a Swedish massage. As my tootsies were Flâneur-handled, I imagined Rocco Ritchie, off-of Madonna, swishing past on a Deliveroo bike, busy learning the value of money.
And that, ladies and germs, is what is known as a handy segue. They don’t teach you that in journalism school but they do work wonders when your word count’s up. Because the Mr Mayfair package at LMHPL is darn good value – more of which in the italics below – giving you a hell of a lot of bang for your buck and colour for your editor. I mean, I just got back from the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona (see “showing off”, above) and even they didn’t have a robot loo. What sort of monsters are they? C
Mr. Mayfair at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane is available until 31st March 2017
London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, 140 Park Lane, Mayfair W1K 7AA
+44 020-7493 7000; LondonMarriottParkLane.co.uk