One of the original "boutique" hotels, and part of the reason the cutting edge remains so sharp.
LONDON, U.K., May 25, 2015 – St. Martins Lane is the Morgans Hotel Group’s stylish flagship hotel in the heart of Covent Garden in London, one of several of its properties in the city that include its eclectic sister hotel, The Sanderson, and the newest addition to Morgans’ exceptionally fashionable collection, The Mondrian London.
Now celebrating its 15th year as a special destination, St. Martins Lane still retains the hip charm, fabulous location, and quirky sensibility that have made it a sensation since it first opened.
Like the Delano in Miami, or the Mondrian in Los Angeles, you know when you are at a Morgans Hotel Group property that you are have found the right mix of discreet modernity and casual hipness.
The distinctive lobby is a landmark, with oversize decorative flower pots, massive chess pieces, and rows of golden teeth molars serving as a seating area, all brightly lit with primary colors.
The staff is chic and friendly in black suits, while the enhanced modern art as furniture motif is a characteristic atypical element.
It is refreshing to see how St Martins Lane remains on the cutting edge of design and decoration, and while the redesigned lobby hasn’t appeared to change in 15 years it still seems fresh, jarring, and innovative.
Indeed along with its stylistic innovations, it was the Morgans Hotel Group that developed the concept of the “boutique” hotel now widely imitated throughout the hospitality industry.
If over the years certain distinctive conceptual design features have been replicated elsewhere by competitors, St. Martins Lane remains the original template that set the pace for the many properties in the Morgans Group, and by which the rest of the modernist pack have found inspiration.
Rooms at St. Martins Lane are stylish and comfortable, with platform beds, brilliant lighting schemes that change color, and creamy white walls with sleek desks, cabinets and furniture.
The overall effect is one of comfort and modernistic cool. Bathrooms are particularly sweet and efficient, with translucent blue shower doors, and a selection of ultra-exclusive hair and skin products.
A variety of Garden Suites, Lofts, and far grander suites, including a Penthouse, are also available, with innovative layouts, intricate furnishings, and stunning views. The hotel is fairly large, with several hundred rooms, and has recently undergone a complete renovation that updates the look while maintaining its distinctive cutting edge atmosphere.
Their fine dining restaurant Asia de Cuba takes Latin-Asian fusion cuisine to new heights with an eclectic menu that covers the globe of culinary influences. Set in a library like design setting just off the main lobby, it is open and welcoming, with distinctively styled cloth covered tables laid out our across several levels.
Service is crisp and personable, and the staff in the restaurant, like throughout the hotel, is always engaged and on point. It also doubles as a cozy spot for a laid back and luxuriously lengthy morning breakfast.
Light, the main bar at St. Martins Lane, is a fascinating enclosure with a multi- media atmosphere of screens, projections, and colored light splayed across a long and narrow enclosure with a series of low tables along a corridor leading to a crystal glass display.
Its translucent glass doors open each afternoon with a flourish, there is the usual modernist infatuation with the latest in mixology, and the action goes until 2AM.
St. Martins Lane is perfectly located just across the street from the Noel Coward Theatre (where Death of a Salesman is currently playing) and very near a number of other theatres in London’s fashionable West End.
Literally just down the street at Trafalgar Square is the National Gallery, with one of the world’s great collections of Impressionist paintings, old world masters including several Vermeer’s, and several very rare Leonardo Da Vinci’s.
Whole afternoons could be spent wandering its thunderously cavernous halls, and the public cacophony in the plaza in front surrounding Nelsons Column is an endless parade of citizens and street entertainers.
Just next door but worlds apart is the National Portrait Gallery, an enormously fascinating march through English history as seen in portraits of its leading figures in the monarchy, arts, and society. More interestingly, they are seen through the changing artistic expressions and styles of some of the leading visual artists of the times, especially from recent decades.
Be sure to take some time to explore this wonderful confluence of gleaming artistic treasures in these two very important but very different museums.
In the course of travel there are several hotel brands, like The Four Seasons, that can absolutely be counted on to enthrall and delight with their sensibilities, attention to detail, stylish design, and consistent excellence. The Morgans Hotel Group is one of them, reliably fabulous, always surprising in their eclecticism, and always providing a level of personalized service that goes above and beyond.
As the flagship of their London outposts, St. Martins Lane is the Rosetta Stone of the modern age “boutique” hotel, and one that is always a pleasure to rediscover, indulge and enjoy. Like its sister hotels, The Sanderson and the new Mondrian London, they are all part of the reason that the cutting edge remains so sharp.
Rooms start at around $600 a night.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPalClick here for reuse options!
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