travel

ME London review: 'Chic and sophisticated with some awe-inspiring spaces'

A stone's throw from Covent Garden, the West End, the River Thames, Somerset House and much more

2021-10-28

Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: ME London

Is there anything duller than a hotel corridor? Or, in the case of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, scarier?

The answer to both is a hard 'no'. Think about it: the claustrophobic lack of windows, and to remedy it, aggressive lighting fit for an interrogation, exposing every detail of an ugly carpet and/or wallpaper...

Imagine my shock, then, wandering the moody, atmospheric black marble passageways of ME London. I loved them so much I walked actual laps around them, hands running along the wall as if in my own private music video... Truly a life first.

The sophisticated use of light and design throughout this famous five star is such that you find yourself lingering in spaces you'd usually rush through. Case in point, the astonishing check-in area, courtesy of architects Foster and Partners. 



It's a huge marble pyramid atrium spanning 10 storeys. Looking at the building's smart but standard exterior, you'd never imagine this resides inside. Natural light is playfully and peacefully dispersed from its tip, and you feel as if underwater, or in an art gallery, or on a spaceship. I felt giddy before my complimentary welcome glass of cava, served by one of many friendly, calming staff.

This five star's second most sensational space is the always-buzzy Radio Rooftop Bar [top picture], offering impressive cityscape views best enjoyed at sunset. The third is the grand duplex penthouse on the ninth and tenth floors, which I've nosed around in a few times over the years.

Alas, my room for the night was far more modest in size - and minimalist in design, compared to the tasteful bombast elsewhere. There was actually a bit too much white for my liking, and the effect was anaesthetising. 

Flat décor notwithstanding, the room's features are suitably 2021. Floor to ceiling windows, extra long beds, coffee pod machine, speakers in the ceilings, a desk with easy to find international plug sockets, a touchscreen controller for lighting, air con et al. Elsewhere, there's a 24-hour gym on the ground floor and valet parking in the secure underground garage... everything but a pool. It feels less hotel, more mini-city-within-a-city.

If there's a slight feeling of sternness at ME London, it's still on the right side of cool, and is offset by the more characterful rooftop area, and injections of personality in whatever art is lately on display on the ground floor. (I suspect the pops of blood red in the work of Mark Rios, aka Mr Dripping, would look great in the rooms, for example.) Forward-thinking guest extras and experiences, like the Vitamin D picnic hamper, packed with locally-sourced delectables, also bring a sense of fun.



The vantage point from my room, looking down on the bustling Catherine Street, was my favourite element of my stay; Novello Theatre and Theatre Royal Drury Lane twinkled, appearing closer together than they actually are through forced perspective. The ME London indeed boasts one of the jammiest locations in London: The River Thames, South Bank, Somerset House, Covent Garden and countless West End shows are all but a few minutes away by foot. It doesn't get more central than this.

But a few negatives - breakfast in STK London restaurant the next morning was fine, and my eggs, avocado and sourdough hit the spot. But my guest was right when he opined that such a petite, simple dish needed 'tarting up' for the very eye-watering price. My one complaint: the music playing on the flatscreen in my room on arrival was stressfully loud. So much for my private music video moment!

For more information and to book, visit the ME London's very swish website.