You can always spot a good hotel by how many amenities it provides. Bars of chocolate that sit adjacent to espresso coffee machines, rolled towel/ waterbottle combinations that greet you in the gym and a plethora of bathroom items that lay invitingly across from the in-built bathroom TV can transform a hotel from simply providing a bed in a room to being a haven of ultimate tranquillity.
The Arch, a boutique hotel in the heart of London, certainly qualifies in the latter bracket. Located a stone’s throw from Oxford Street and Hyde Park it is buried amidst the hustle and bustle of the central shopping quarter without being consumed by it, nestled on a quiet road among the idyllic mews that are characteristically London-chic. The halls are adorned with local artwork and the entire hotel has a glamorous and refined feel, with no expense spared in the name of comfort.
This ambience is transitioned well to the catering facilities in the shape of a Coravin Model Two Elite device which keeps sparkling wine fresh once the bottle has been opened. As a result, Hunter 486 now offers 23 wines and Champagnes to enjoy by the glass, giving wine enthusiasts the rare opportunity to sample a decent glass of vino without committing to the whole bottle (although the expansive wine selection is tainted by dear entry costs).
Named after the 1950s dialling code for Marylebone, Hunter 486 has been designed with an air of nostalgic London glamour fused with contemporary touches. The restaurant features gleaming leather booths, blown glass chandeliers and statement artwork, plus the aforementioned chic Salon de Champagne bar.
The kitchen is open plan and airy, allowing guests to watch the skilled chefs at work amongst the gleaming selection of copper pots and pans suspended from the ceiling. Light streams through the large windows, treating guests to a charming view of the neighbourhood mews, and come the evening, the softly lit restaurant is an intimate and romantic setting for dinner and drinks.
Head Chef Gary Durrant, formally of the Savoy, has created a new menu that balanced the difficult task of satisfying hotel guests as well as pulling punters in from outside, marrying high-end cooking with accessible price tags. The single-sided menu has a range of entrees starting from £7, including a hearty quinoa salad with grilled vegetables, Rosary goat’s cheese and basil dressing and a fresh and seasonal Dorset crab, served with avocado and pink grapefruit.
The main course offers chef Durrant the opportunity to turn up the heat with a range of dishes prepared in the kitchen’s stone oven. As it operates at a very high heat, meat and fish are produced with astonishingly succulent results, exemplified by a rack of lamb that could have been cut with a spoon and a whole sea bass presented with an enviable mix of crispy skin and tender meat.
Overall, this was a very average meal peppered by some very nice auxiliary bits. The desert was a case in point. A bland cheese board and underwhelming chocolate fondant cake were rescued by a selection of home-made chocolate treats which sat next to the pre-meal nibbles and bread selection as a highlight of the night. In a hotel that stands out thanks to its amenities, the restaurant falls over by coming up short in all areas other than these items. They’re nice to haves, but not the be all and end all.