My review of the Amba Hotel Marble Arch – a former Thistle transformed

This is my review of the Amba Hotel Marble Arch in London.

In October 2013 glh Hotels, the owner of the Thistle Hotels brand, announced the launch of its new contemporary 4 star group Amba.   The first property to open in the capital was the Amba Hotel Charing Cross.  Last December the Amba Hotel Marble Arch opened as the second of four planned hotels in high profile London locations.  The Marble Arch property was previously a Thistle whilst the Charing Cross hotel was run by glh but unbranded.

Amba offered Head for Points a free stay in order to check out what the brand has to offer, so Rob sent Anika along to take a look.  Here is her review of the Amba Hotel Marble Arch hotel, rooms and facilities.

amba hotel marble arch


Marble Arch is simply a great location for a leisure hotel. Literally on the western end of Oxford Street, Amba is perfect for everyone who wants to do some shopping or roam in Hyde Park, about a 3 minute walk away.

For the business traveller, it obviously depends where your job is taking you.  However, the Central Line takes you straight into the City whilst the Mayfair / St James / Marylebone areas are all within easy walking distance.

On arrival, an escalator takes you up to the first floor reception area which is spacious and has separate welcome desks for a discreet check-in. The staff were very friendly and it only took a few minutes until I got my room keys.


The Amba Marble Arch was fully refurbished last year.  If you ever stayed here when it was a Thistle, you should banish all your memories from your mind.  A lot of money has been spent on creating what is effectively a new hotel.

I was given a Studio Apartment and was pretty impressed by the size and amenities.

Amba Marble Arch London hotel studio apartment review

For longer stays this would be a very comfortable home away from home with a kitchen (microwave, dishwasher and sink) and bathroom with bathtub and separate shower.

Amba Marble Arch hotel review bathroom

The windows are double glazed to keep the cold and noise out.  There is some construction work opposite but, as I was staying there on a Saturday, there was no chance to find out if it would cause any inconvenience.  The project is beyond the piling stage so I imagine there would be minimal disturbance.

Amba Marble Arch hotel London review

For comparison I also asked to see an Executive Room. Obviously the Executive Room is a bit smaller than the apartment but still fits a good sized desk (with international and USB sockets), a sofa, two arm chairs and a big (very comfortable) double bed without feeling cramped.  Here are a couple of photos:

Amba Marble Arch hotel review Executive Room

Amba Marble Arch hotel review Executive Room bedroom

All rooms have free wi-fi which ran at a decent enough speed for YouTube videos and Netflix streaming.

By the standards of Central London hotels, Amba has some very spacious rooms indeed.

All rooms in the hotel are fitted with a Nespresso machine, a kettle and a complimentary mini bar (with snacks, soft and alcoholic drinks and fresh milk for your coffee – it was nice to see this instead of UHT milk capsules).  Whilst free mini bars are becoming more common these days, it is rare to find a hotel that doesn’t limit them to their executive rooms.

Amba hotel Marble Arch London review

The rooms all have an iPad for use during your stay.  Not only can you access information about the hotel and London, it also doubles as your connection to reception and room service.

Amba Marble Arch London hotel review in-room iPad

(I ordered the Sunday Times and more Nespresso capsules as the two caffeine ones that were in the room were not enough for me …..)

Every room has a brand new smart TV with lots of international channels.  It was an unexpected pleasure to get to watch the German version of Pop Idol – no judging please …..

Amba Marble Arch hotel review apartment

The bathroom is a good size with a combined bathtub and shower. Toiletries are hotel branded and I appreciated the neutral smell. If you forgot your toothbrush, razor or anything else, you can order free replacements via the iPad.

Amba Marble Arch review bathroom

Amba Marble Arch hotel review


Amba Marble Arch has a very good Executive Lounge.

Lounge access is included in the Studio Apartment and Executive Rooms.  However, for just £25 a day you can get access to it when staying in a Deluxe Room.   This is a very low supplement for lounge access.  If you are booked into a Standard Room, the supplement is £75.

The Amba lounge is a great place to relax and have a glass of champagne or wine.  Work wise, I had problems organising my laptop, coffee cup and small plate on the table – and accidentally knocked over a vase as there just didn’t seem to be enough room for everything.  I should mention that my laptop is a 16 inch however …


The lounge offers a great breakfast menu (same food as in the restaurant The Grill and the staff are happy to order a freshly made omelette for you). There are snacks and drinks throughout the day and afternoon tea.


Opposite the lounge is the hotel’s gym – which didn’t impress me very much. Despite the fact that the gym has all the equipment one might need, I found the room simply too small to have a proper work out. Then again, if you are the only person in the gym at the time – which is usually the case with hotel gyms – it is totally fine.

Amba Marble Arch hotel review gym photo

Check Out

The standard check-out time is 12pm, but the staff at the reception said they let people sleep on a Sunday if they want.  I asked to stay until 1pm to get some more work done and they were perfectly happy.


To conclude the review, I would say that the Amba Hotel Marble Arch is an impressive four star Central London hotel which I do recommend.  The focus on seamless technology including fast free wifi is definitely a plus when on a business trip and the location works very well for a leisure stay. The staff are very friendly and helpful and to be honest the only downside was the size of the gym – which might not be a priority for many anyway.

In terms of loyalty schemes, Thistle / Guoman scrapped their ‘Signature’ loyalty programme back in July, as Rob discussed here.  This was prior to the launch of Amba and the two other new brands glh is rolling out, the four-star ‘every Hotel’ (now open in Piccadilly) and five-star brand Clermont.  Once these are more established, I would expect that a new glh-wide scheme will emerge or the group will work with a consortium such as Global Hotel Alliance.

You can book, check for any special offers and find out more about the hotel on the Amba website here.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see  our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. The iPad we found a bit of a double edged sword. Nice idea, but it’s something of considerable value which can go missing, and unfortunately one of ours did just that.
    A colleague returned to her room at the Amba Charing X one evening and noticed the iPad wasn’t there, so she phoned reception to ask if she’d get it back and was subsequently accused by the manager of taking it herself.
    This was despite the fact we’d already told them they had a problem with their staff because our employees had things of theirs go missing before.
    Stupidly the hotel group does NOT put the likes of find my iPad on these devices, so there is no way of tracking them if they are stolen!

  2. Nice review of the Amba Marble Arch. I visited it once years ago when it was a thistle and recall going into a dirty bar full of uncleared tables only to get ignored by the bar staff. Then having to wait nearly an hour for a bottle of wine on room service. Glad to see things have improved greatly. I would be concerned about the iPad thing as well though

  3. The_Real_A says:

    Nice review.

    Has Anika been introduced anywhere? We have got to know Rob over the years… If we are to hear more from Anika maybe a profile would be nice so we can understand the reviewers background a little more to put the comments in context.

    • I have known her for a few years. I hired her to write Shopper Points (see ) because I wanted a younger style for the articles.

      That has worked out well and she will be doing more for HFP going forward. It will be mainly ‘roving reporter’ stuff because there is a limit to the number of nights I want to be away from the family and the number of days I want to spend at press events.

      It allows me to accept offers like the Amba review which I would have declined in the past due to time pressure. She is also doing some articles commissioned by British Airways which will run here next week which, again, I would have had to turn down before.

      She is well travelled from previous jobs and knows her way around airport lounges, business class cabins and high-end hotels. She is not an expert on frequent flyer schemes but I think I’ve got that covered :-) .

      My ‘not exactly ambitious’ plan is to reduce my HFP writing from 99.5% of articles to around 98% this year ….

      • Out of Curiosity who was writing the other 0.5% of articles?:)

        • There was Michael’s Conrad Maldives review recently and I’ve run a few other reviews written by other people. The pieces on how to maximise Hertz rewards and Eurostar travel were written by other people as I don’t fully understand those schemes.

  4. If you wanted to raid a free mini bar, roughly how many drinks could you knock back – emptying it?

    • InterCon Royal Ambassador members get a free mini bar – and that is a fully alcoholic one. You used to be able to get RA via a referral, remember. IC Amstel had half-bottles of spirits on the mini-bar you could take.

    • Not that many tbh. There was one small bottle of Prossecco and two bottles of beer… The lounge however has got red and white wine and champagne…

  5. Steve Blower says:

    Sort of on topic, well AMBA anyway. The one at Charing Cross. The difference I experienced since the transfer to AMBA is astonishing and positive. I had dinner there with a client in its previous incarnation, and frankly was appalled by quality, staff, service, the whole package was dreary and unfriendly. The difference at a Groupon mega cheapo lunch recently, super friendly front desk, the place sparkled it was so clean, the food was quite incredibly good (as well as cheap)…
    On my way out, I found a manager to give him this feedback.

  6. Thanks for the review of the Amba Marble Arch. I have used the Amba Charing Cross a lot, so it’s interesting to compare. It’s better than many five-star London hotels. The Marble Arch lounge looks much better, but you can’t beat the Charing Cross for location.

    Some minor corrections though:

    – The Amba Charing Cross was previously the Guoman Charing Cross, not unbranded.
    – Officially, Signature is suspended pending a revamp rather than scrapped. I’m still getting my room upgrade and late check-out benefits and had a Signature-branded offers email just this week.
    – Amba was launched before the suspension of Signature, not the other way around, and by several months.

    • Charing Cross was unbranded, apparently. I had this discussion with glh last week!

      Whilst Amba was ‘launched’ before Signature as suspended, the first hotel did not open until after it was stopped I think. It was certainly stopped by the time Marble Arch opened.

      • GLH are giving you duff info!

        The Charing Cross was already branded Amba when I stayed on 17 October 2014, whereas Signature was suspended only at the end of summer 2015.

        On the prior branding, it’s true to say that the hotel was called “Charing Cross Hotel” rather than “Guoman Charing Cross”, but then again, none of the Guomans, have “Guoman” in their name apart from the one in Shanghai. The Charing Cross was listed as a Guoman on and, on site, had all of the branding that the other London Guomans have.

        In fact, there’s still a brochure on their website from when it was a Guoman!
        The photos show what the rooms looked like before the Amba refurb.