The Tranquil Montcalm
It is baffling to imagine yet another 5 star hotel being able to make its mark in London's crowded luxe-hotel-arena.
Particularly when it is near Park Lane and around the corner from the West End, as well as a stroll to the uber-cool Marylebone High Street. However, make its mark it has, without much fuss and here's why:
The Montcalm is a resurrection of a previous hotel 'Montcalm' on a charming Georgian crescent a few footsteps from Marble Arch. It occupies a discreet set of buildings, former grand patrician residences, on Cumberland Crescent (34-50), within Westminster's Portman Square conservation area. So the location is fabulous. But that's not all the Montcalm has in its favour...
Interior design par-luxe-excellence
The attention to design detail is very innovative here. The interiors are not minimalist and they have certainly not forfeited comfort over design. However, they have incorporated a chic-city-style that stands out in the 'designery' hotel genre and what is even more impressive is that they have simultaneously managed to make it feel cosy. It's not a petit-luxe hotel and I was stunned to discover it has 160 suites and rooms because it feels quite intimate. The Montcalm has smoothness to it, in both its textural and spacial interpretation. While there is marble as far as the eye will take you in the lobby area, the open plan layout, broken only by columns and informal pockets of contemporary seating arrangements, is very inviting.
It was late November, the winter chill was setting in, and the warmth from the authentically styled 'wall fires' was both welcoming and enticing. I liked the soft palate of colours - honey tones, creams, and duck-egg blue as well as the rich striped velvet on the contemporary fine wood and leather bucket-style chairs. Sensational lighting enhances this scene. It's chic here... elegant and relaxing.
My luxurious 'Ladies First Room' double
These slick rooms are designed to please and pamper, hence the title. Travelling with little Bibi (then only 6 months old) I didn't really need more than a comfortable double bed. Instead the bed dwarfed not only myself but my little bundle as well. It was a super size king double facing a large flat screen with a large window overlooking the crescent's private garden. The bed was divinely dressed with silky soft covers in parrot green and chocolate brown while the bed beneath, fresh, plump, and white, was superbly comfortable. Well done. Slumber perfection. Pillow menu is apparently on its way.
This hotel will, no doubt, have a bathroom mention in every review. They are v.groovy plus they work! There is an electric privacy screen between the bathroom and bedroom, which allows you to watch television while reclining beneath a tub of expensive bubbles. The bathroom was generously kitted out with a variety of Acqua Di Parma toiletries, certainly more than you could use during a one night stay. The rain power shower, in black marble, with a middle band of glistening tiles together with chrome fittings, was almost irresistible, while the lavatory benefitted from a hygienic power jet spray. They have thought of most things here.
Great in-boudoir complimentary extras
The extras included a large bowel of superior fruit, and I mean excellent produce, not brown speckled bananas, soft apples and dented pears. There was also a bottle of champagne on ice, alongside a perfectly tied bouquet of crisp cream roses and a cot for Bibi that looked so appealing... I was tempted to climb in it myself. There is a lengthy list of extras for ladies who 'lie in' but, as I was not given such an opportunity, I opted for breakfast in-boudoir. Outstanding. The fruit display, fanned out in colour coordinated sweetness, was a work of art; the porridge outstanding, while the cappuccino was worthy of a mention alone. Superb.
The technical machinations of the room were a little beyond my natural ability. Make sure you get a thorough lesson before you switch on 'the do not disturb' light.
Vetro - veritable Italian cuisine
I think this restaurant has great savoir-faire. It has a simple, relaxed vibe but the quality of the glassware, furniture, lighting and the glorious chequered marble floor makes it feel glamorous too. It's a dress up or down venue, crowned by four dramatic skylights. The service works along these lines too: informed with relaxed attitude. The chef is Sardinian and there's no doubting his culinary lineage. I was joined by my husband for dinner and we both chose the pumpkin soup. At only £6.50 our expectations were modest. Wow. It was fabulous: intensely truffle-infused, with shavings of fresh black winter truffle, above a bed of finely cubed, tiny, roasted potatoes.
The risotto, also extremely well priced, had more fresh sea fair than we could count, let alone name, while it was quite genuinely cooked to al dente perfection. Our expectations were greatly and delectably exceeded. There is also an excellent wine cellar and the sommelier and maitre d' are only too willing to show it off.
Bar and Spa
The Barre Noire, the hotel's newly completed bar promises to impress. It has Italian overtones with a French twist. It is moody and low lit; discreet, yet exudes a sprightly energy. The mixologist is ex-Hilton and tasty Italian appetizers will accompany drinks. They are selling fine modern artwork here too, on a rotation basis, together with auction nights which will be held every couple of months.
The Spa is small but alluringly Zen. I wanted a chocolate wrap but Bibi was not having it. Instead I had a 'Ly'tya Marine Hand Sea Spa'. Very soothing though I don't recommend any treatments with little ones in tow, as they will provide a baby sitter if you give them enough notice. The pool, gym, sauna, steam rooms, power showers and more besides, all looked very impressive.
Montcalm has original style, a refreshingly unpretentious outlook and an Italian tang, set in undeniably classy British soil. While it is still in the process of reinvention, their open-minded and fresh approach could prove to be quite a discerning London luxury crowd-pleaser.