Review: the Thistle Marble Arch hotel in London
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EDIT, 2022: This hotel was rebranded as Thistle March Arch in May 2022. This review was written whilst it was operating as an Amba. The website for the new hotel is here.
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.
Where is the Amba Marble Arch hotel?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
(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 ….
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.
Executive lounge at Amba Marble Arch
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.
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.
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.
Hotel offers update – March 2023:
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Want to buy hotel points?
- IHG One Rewards is offering an 80%-100% bonus when you buy points by 21st March. Click here to buy.
- Marriott Bonvoy is offering a 40% bonus when you buy points by 3rd April. Click here.
- World of Hyatt is offering a 25% bonus when you buy points by 25th March. Click here to buy.