You’d think the old Cumberland, that genteel palace of carveries and family afternoon teas, would be the least likely London hostelry to get a new lease of life as Britain’s first Hard Rock Hotel. But it turns out the maiden aunt of Marble Arch has serious rock’n’roll credentials – Jimi Hendrix made it his London pied a terre and the great Buddy Holly stayed here before the day the music died.
Now the blue velvet cloak in which Hendrix used to slip in and out of the discreet hostelry off Oxford Street has pride of place in a display case alongside several hundred other pieces of impressive memorabilia which make every Hard Rock property a music museum as well as a pukka burger joint. They include Hendrix’s butterfly necklace, which doubtless graced these portals more than once, although most of what’s on show is not directly connected with the hotel.
A knowledgeable curator tours guests through the highlights displayed around the perimeter of a huge lobby dominated by a gigantic circular bar. Beyond lies a sunken Hard Rock restaurant somewhat lacking the atmosphere of the original on Piccadilly but serving the same huge burgers, buffalo wings and sundaes, fronted by a stage where decent rock bands entertain diners for free.
The Golden Oldies show continues in upstairs corridors packed with more guitars and rock star outfits in display cases, but the rooms themselves are slightly lacking in star quality. Many are smaller than their upscale West End counterparts, although Hyde Park and Marble Arch views lend a glamour quotient less five-stars in less high-profile locations can’t compete with. Themed accoutrements like the full-length mirrors on which guests can see how they measure up against their favourite performers, whose heights are etched on the glass, are a nice touch, as is a personalised playlist of tracks to enjoy during your stay.
Chargeable extras include the delivery of a Crosley turntable along with a selection of iconic vinyl albums to spin, and one or more of the hotel’s 20 Fender guitars, complete with amps and headphones to enable guests to unleash your inner Led Zeppelin and create their own jam sessions.
Paying homage to the pro rock’n’rollers who expect and get VIP treatment, Hard Rock London has its own Rock Royalty lounge for those happy to pay for an upgrade. Facilities include a speedy, private dedicated check-in, and a lounge where free continental breakfast, drinks and nibbles, papers and personal assistants may be accessed.
But you don’t need an upgrade for the Hypnos beds, fast, free and unlimited internet access, in-room mini-fridges or Nespresso machines which come as standard. Just don’t think of throwing the fridge out the window like the British band who caused the Hyatt on Sunset Strip to be renamed the Riot House in the 70s, an epithet which endured long after the balconies were glassed in. The Cumberland has only just got over being renamed the Hard Rock, and might not survive the shock of being renamed yet again!
Tell me more about the Hard Rock Hotel, London
Hard Rock Hotel, Great Cumberland Place, London W1H 7DL
T: 0800 330 8512
Rooms from £259