The Arch didn't even exist a year ago but is now ranked in the top 10 London hotels (out of more than 1000) on TripAdvisor....London Hotels Insight investigated why
It's rare for a hotel that has been open less than a year to climb rapidly into the top 10 London hotels on TripAdvisor. But that's exactly what The Arch in Great Cumberland Place (off Oxford Street) has done. London Hotels Insight sent blogger Andrea Kirkby over to investigate...
I sometimes feel ill at ease with ‘luxury' hotels. I wasn't brought up in an aristocratic family, and too much obsequiousness makes me uncomfortable. The pomp and circumstance of uniformed doormen can be a bit much.
The Arch is rather different - luxury without stuffiness. This attitude comes through immediately when you're asked to sit down at reception on one of the comfy leather chairs - why keep you standing up? And the service is attentive and personal: I got a jogging map of Hyde Park printed out for me at reception and advice on shopping in Marylebone High Street.
Though the facade - 7 Georgian townhouses - is unassuming, once you step inside the hotel is quite contemporary.
The contemporary luxe rooms at The Arch have all the mod-cons
The rooms, as often in London, are rather small, but well furnished in a modern style. Little extras drew my attention - a Burleigh teapot (I'm a fan of Burleigh earthenware and have the teapot's big brother at home), free soft drinks in the minibar, a selection of Jing teabags (including green tea and camomile), herbal toiletries (zingy peppermint shampoo that really peps you up), internet radio and TV you can watch in the bath.
If all the Sky channels have nothing interesting on, you can borrow DVDs of any of the last 50 years' Oscar winning films from reception, which I thought a nice touch. There's a seriously comfortable bed too.
HUNter 486, the restaurant, has huge portions of seriously tasty food (I'll post a full review of the restaurant later). I was impressed by the wine list - very interesting, not the usual selection at all, with intriguing tasting notes. Digestifs are also a feature with a fascinating selection of whiskies. And there's also Meantime beer which is brewed locally.
When I spoke to Beccy Gunn, the General Manager, I mentioned the Meantime beer. Some hotels find they can't sell real ale - so why has the Arch taken such a connoisseur's product?
Meantime Brewery is one of London's most authentic breweries - and it's impressive that The Arch serves its ales (image credit below)
"Well, we like to challenge people's taste buds," she said. "And we see ourselves as a neighbourhood hotel in many ways, and Meantime is a London brewery, so it fits. Besides, there is a style for everyone including a raspberry fruit beer as well as a Viennese amber lager, Pilsner and stout. So far there have been no complaints!"
I noticed when I was speaking to Beccy that she used the word "creative" a lot - and that's what makes the Arch such an interesting hotel.
She'd just been trying out new recipes with the cocktail bar - olives marinated with Gorgonzola for a new taste - "our barman Rupert is passionate about trying to infuse something different into the menu, to challenge your tastebuds and give it a different twist."
Beccy takes the rare guest complaints very seriously. She's particularly proud of having convinced a couple who weren't completely happy to return - after personally sorting out the service issues they'd identified.
"If you've messed up," she says, "admit it. People invest time to make a comment and you should do all you can to put it right." This aligns with London Hotels Insight's findings on best practice in handling online reviews.
The public areas at The Arch strike the right balance between style and comfort
Above all, one thing I noticed from all the staff was real enthusiasm.
It's a cosmopolitan team (reflecting the guest profile which is 70 percent from outside the UK), but there's a great esprit de corps. One small but important detail: all staff food is freshly prepared in the hotel kitchen.
As Beccy states: "We don't do nice food for guests and packet soup for the staff - and that does make it easy to come to work!"
The Arch has been open less than a year - it will celebrate its 1st anniversary in January - but I can see how it's rapidly becoming one of the top-rated London hotels. Beccy says her mission is "to make it a home from home - to take the niggle out of travelling."