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I’ve never been a fan of overtly decadent situations. Over-the-top extravagance makes me feel undeserving, underage and, frankly, uncomfortable. So when I checked into ME London in the U.K. capital’s decidedly uber-luxurious West End, I breathed a sigh of relief at just how approachable grandeur can be without sacrificing attention to detail or quality of service. The West End of London is known for its traditional luxury, where old-school heavy hitters dot the hotel skyline. But for well-heeled travelers who want a touch of sex appeal and 21st-century trendsetting, it has to be ME London.
I stepped through the doors of the seductive hotel, which sits on the triangular corner of Aldwych, on the Strand right at the tip of Covent Garden — a great location for theater lovers, as the property rubs elbows with London’s theater district. Inside, the hotel is minimalist and modern, with a monochrome palette of shiny metals, blacks and whites, with classic art deco detail. The washed-in-white ground floor acts as a staging area, and a spot for guests and locals to grab coffee and discuss business by day, or have a glass of champagne before heading out for the evening. And the friendly, welcoming smiles of a dressed-down staff make it an easygoing arrival experience.
From the ground floor, I was taken upstairs to the Passion Suite, an 807-square-foot palace of futuristic white, clean lines and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook iconic sights such as the London Eye, Big Ben, London Bridge and River Thames. A separate living room with a dining area is also part of the posh digs. I may have suggested that I was uncomfortable with glitz and glam, but when it came to this suite, I managed to settle in just fine. Perhaps it had something to do with the feathery, cloud-like bed that I sank — nay, melted — right into.
The hotel has 157 rooms including 16 suites, the most VIP of them all being the two-story penthouse Suite ME. Radio Rooftop Bar boasts awe-inspiring views of the Thames and Westminster skyline. One of the only rooftop bars in the Strand area, Radio is open until 3 a.m. on weekends and serves a sinfully delicious menu of tapas, from olive and bitter-chocolate tapenade to deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with goat curd and smothered in truffle honey.
London’s ME London, which is located in the city’s West End, features a modern monochrome design. // © 2017 ME London
ME London’s Marconi Lounge // © 2017 ME London
The Passion Suite at ME London // © 2017 ME London
The hotel features 16 suites, including the penthouse Suite ME. // © 2017 ME London
The property’s Radio Rooftop Bar offers stunning views of the city skyline. // © 2017 ME London
Though the hotel is surrounded by some of London’s best restaurants, dining at the hotel is something to write home about on its own. Two highlights include STK London and Cucina Asellina. Like its NYC counterpart, STK’s vibe comes from its bar, with a long list of beers, wines and cocktails, as well as DJs who spin all through the night. Opt for the tuna tartare, the Wagyu burgers and, of course, the USDA steaks. At Cucina Asellina, the charcuterie and cheeses are simply to die for, as are the flatbreads and pastas.
If you’re looking for something slightly more casual, head to the lobby’s Marconi Lounge, where it’s easy to grab fresh coffee or a smoothie throughout the day. (It’s named after Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor of the radio; the hotel sits in the footprint of the original 1904 Marconi House.) But if you crave something even more casual than that, you can do as I did and order takeout from Thai Square, a small Thai restaurant across the street, pop on your plush white robe and eat the entire dinner in bed.
For me, that’s all the luxury I need.