London’s first ME by Meliá – its predecessors are in Madrid, Barcelona, Cancún, Cabo San Lucas and Vienna – is a beauty. Designed by Foster + Partners, the finishes are expensive and carefully modelled on what was there before – respecting the lines of Marconi House next door, from where the fledgling BBC made its first radio broadcast, using a transmitter built by Guglielmo Marconi, in November 1922.
But it now contains a genuinely breathtaking atrium, a pyramid nine floors tall, coolly minimal in style – and starting not at ground-floor level, but from the first floor. Here, guests can sit and calmly sip champagne as they’re checked in by personal ‘Aura managers’. In the rooms, the tech and textile details are all taken care of, naturally, but idiosyncratic design touches include triangular windows you can’t resist stepping into to peer up and down the Aldwych.
The social spaces have different moods neatly covered: from a bling American steakhouse and a base- ment events space into which cars can be driven, via a more relaxed Italian restaurant, and up to Radio, the rather elegant tenth-floor roof terrace bar, where the Thames-side seats with their exceptional views are hugely in demand.