It’s early afternoon on a steamy summer day in London.
A historic heatwave has wrapped its arms around England at the precise moment World Cup fever is going viral. With Wimbledon still to come, it’s shaping up to be a once-in-a-generation summer in the capital.
The buzz of arriving in arguably the world’s greatest city has faded as my wife and I ascend from the Underground, only to have the sun swiftly beat us down. We have just made our way past a grand Londonian crescent on Great Cumberland Place when we spot our hotel: The Arch London.
As we’ve arrived early for check-in, we drop off our bags—soaking up some cool air along the way— before heading to the Carpenters Arms. It’s one of those quintessentially London pubs that has remained down-to-earth despite the exclusivity of its address and I wouldn’t change a thing. There, we neck a cider on ice and a punchy glass of Pimm’s and lemonade in the shade, and after an hour has elapsed, return to the hotel for check-in.
Our room is a continuation of the theme, as a couch adorned with zig-zags sits under two framed black-and-white pieces and within eyeshot of a stacked bookshelf. Before we can take a title off the shelf though, it’s time to explore the courtyard. Ours is one of the many Arch London suites that comes with an outdoor space and neither of us can resist a quick swing on the playful, egg-shaped patio chair.
Like many who visit London, we are intent on taking in a West End Show that evening and there’s only one tradition more ingrained in the show-going experience than a standing ovation: pre-theatre dinner. The Arch has a sure hit on its hands with their restaurant Hunter 486. The stars of the performance on this early evening are homemade soda bread with creamy-salty butter, succulent chicken terrine, cool and crisp watermelon soup (the perfect antidote for the weather outside), crumbly ricotta & honey stuffed crispy zucchini flowers and a finale of figs mille-feuille with rosemary ice cream and chocolate fondant.
We leave the hotel behind for an evening of theatre followed by a wander through Covent Garden and Seven Dials. Gregarious pub goers—some Londoners, some tourists having the time of their life—spill out into the streets, with everyone’s spirits buoyed by the warm breezes.
You get the distinct impression that everybody appreciates how crazy lucky they are to be in such an exciting city on such an enchanting evening. Normally, we would have joined the party, but we had a date with the Martini Library at the Arch.
This sumptuous space is one part library, another part family room, is lined with books begging to be perused and has a fireplace. Flames aren’t licking on this warm summer night, but I can’t help but think about how cozy it would be here on a winter night after a day spent Christmas shopping on nearby Oxford Street.
In the morning, check-out eventually calls our name, but only after a spectacular breakfast of sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, and poached eggs all scattered over toast and sprinkled with feta cheese. Coffee, all too often an afterthought, is crafted properly and presented well.
Don’t be surprised at all if The Arch lands the role as your new favorite place to stay in London.
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