Think Marble Arch, think Primark, tourists and the decidedly less desirable side of London with nowhere better to rest your bones or get something to eat than KFC or Pret.
But a hop, skip and a jump away lies a whole different world in the form of family-run boutique hotel The Arch. Just five minutes from Oxford St, this chic hideaway recently celebrated its fifth birthday.
With individually designed rooms featuring TVs in the bathrooms, huge beds and individual touches like Malin and Goetz products and Burleigh teapots, it’s a real haven for visitors to the great metropolis.
But if you’re a Londoner, you can also sample its delights with a visit to its restaurant, Hunter 486. There’s a recently relaunched menu to give it a best of British emphasis and the new direction was overseen by Head Chef Gary Durrant and food and hospitality consultant Henrietta Green.
Walking in, the low lighting and dark wooden tables make for a modern, soothing look. The leather seats are extra wide and comfortable and the trendy bunches of bare-bulbed lamps hanging overhead give it a designy edge.
The other diners on a Tuesday night were a mix of hotel guests, some shoppers and a group of businessmen.
After a warm welcome by one of the attentive waiting staff, we kicked off with home made bread – the sourdough with olives was particularly delicious, warm and with a salty tang.
Moving on, we hoovered up the baked prawns in a tomato sauce with crusty bread, a comforting rustic dish with herbs and garlic (£8.50)
For mains, I opted for the lamb shank (£18). One of the USPs of Hunter 486 is their stone oven which cooks meat to an exceptionally tender level. And the boast was certainly true of the lamb, which fell right off the bone and was juicy and succulent. Served up with roasted root vegetables and in an enormous portion, it’s certainly hearty fare.
My guest went for the fish of the day (market price) – tuna steak with tomato salsa and tenderstem broccoli with sides of spinach and chips. The tuna was perfectly cooked and fresh and all the sides were great but he felt the dish would have been better off without the slightly overpowering salsa.
There’s a good selection of wines by the glass – the Drylands New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (£8) was robust and dry to enjoy with the prawns and the tuna and the Argentian Malbec-Merlot blend (£7) was soft and fruity with the lamb.
Our waitress said we couldn’t leave without enjoying the Chocolate Fondant with orange ice cream and a slice of preserved orange (£6.50). And she was right, it oozed generously and had just the right balance of bitter and sweet. The orange ice cream was an unusual addition that cut the sweetness and provided a perfumey different flavour.
We also sampled the blood orange slices with rosewater, pomegranate seeds and mascarpone sorbet (£6.50) – a really refreshing and unusual dessert with lovely exotic flavours.
Satisfied and full, we returned from the cosy backwater back into the throng of Marble Arch. Hunter 486 has certainly got a lot of Best of British elements but the added twist of Mediterrean and Middle Eastern flavours keep it feeling modern and most importantly, London.
Hunter 486 is at The Arch Hotel, London, 50, Cumberland Place, LONDON W1H 7FD.