With a history spanning over 100 years in its fantastic location on one of London’s most vibrant central streets, The Dilly is a five-star haven for anyone looking for a vibrant, upmarket and stylish abode for their capital city stay.
Designed by Richard Norman Shaw in 1904, the Neo-Baroque style of the building pays homage to 17th century English Palladian architecture, which is characterised by symmetry, strict proportion and classical forms. After opening in 1908 as The Piccadilly Hotel and most recently Le Méridien Piccadilly, before being transformed to The Dilly, the Edwardian hotel, located in the heart of the West End, attracts society’s finest and has included the royal patronage of King George V.
The property is now owned by Archer Hotel Capital, which made the decision to operate The Dilly as an independent hotel when the management contract with Marriott International expired. Aside from new ownership and a new name, the hotel has undergone a refurbishment, and in addition to its 28 suites and 255 rooms, guests can expect to find two restaurants, a dedicated bar area, an in-house dance studio, a large indoor pool – believed to be the largest indoor hotel swimming pool in London – two squash courts and a very impressive gym.
Classic, splendid and family rooms sit alongside junior and executive suites to provide a variety of options for any type of traveller or travelling party. Rooms and suites range from 18 to 60m2 and all include queen size beds (or twin when required), and a sleek, smart look with deep blue or white walls, red accent armchairs, dark wood furniture and thick deep grey curtains.
I spent the night in a corner splendid room, which provided plenty of space for me in the low laying king size bed, with its spacious shower room and seating area. There was also a desk – with a proper desk chair – which very much came in handy when I needed to get on with some work, while the large flatscreen TV was ideal for some down time. There was also an in-room tablet, which provided a simple way of ordering food and drinks to the room, and I liked the pop of colour in the framed London scenes, which were propped up on a picture shelf above the bed.
Book into a suite and enjoy spacious accommodations with original features such as a fireplace along with access to Balcony at The Dilly. The executive lounge is open all day from 7am to 12am and serves drinks in the stylish space with a selection of books to peruse as well.
Food and drink
Terrace at The Dilly is the hotel’s bright and spacious all-day dining venue, while Madhu’s is the Indian fine dining restaurant that is sure to impress.
As you enter the latter inside The Dilly you will come across the magnificent bar with its décor, impressive chandeliers, comfy sofas and funky armchairs to sit and sip on a cocktail or a glass of champagne before dinner. There’s an impressive cocktail list and I was pleased to see that there was Cobra on draught, which was so light and refreshing – I did well to only have two pints!
After my appetite had been whetted, I headed to Madhu’s for dinner, which offers authentic luxury North Indian Punjabi cuisine seasoned with a unique Kenyan twist. Madhu’s is a restaurant not to be missed and is a real jewel in the West End, a superb example of a top-class Punjabi restaurant. The service from the start was great, not fussy but very attentive, and my waiter explained all the dishes before choosing wines for me that would complement each dish.
The interiors are an opulent haven for die-hard fans of the Bollywood style of bling and glamour, with glitzy interiors, lavish chandeliers and very low-lit lighting to provide a welcoming setting for a lavish meal. I started my dinner with my all-time favourite appetiser of poppadum and chutneys, which was followed by a selection of starter tasters that provided me with a fantastic insight into the level of cuisine that is produced here. Jeera scallops were beautifully cooked, with the sweet and butter-soft flesh complementing the earthy notes of cumin seeds, and a moreish tangy relish perfectly. This was a stunning dish, perfectly spiced and a great example of what was to follow.
I was then brought out a non-vegetable sharing platter, which included Robata lamb chops – tender meat with a mild, yet flavourful medley of spices and touch of ginger – and some super delicious tandoori salmon, which was flaky, moist and light with a powerful and tangy flavour punch of turmeric, chilli and a touch of coriander. The platter also included seekh kebabs murgh tikka – lightly slow grilled, barbecued chicken, made tender from the marinade of yoghurt and balanced out well with the tangy zest of lemon – along with succulent and meaty chilli garlic king prawns, which were cooked perfectly and had a fantastic level of heat from the chilli.
My main course was the star dish, a prawn moilee curry, containing succulent, meaty king prawns, slowly braised in a velvety curry base of sweet coconut cream and beautifully balanced with the strong heat of mustard seeds and curry leaves to cut through the richness. This was a super stunning dish and the best dish on the night.
To end the meal, I opted for the kulfi, a frozen dairy dessert which originated in the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century. It is often described as ‘traditional Indian ice cream’ and the clotted cream and cardamom was presented like a rose on a gold leaf shaped plate – very light and refreshing, similar to the taste of a chai latte. As if this hadn’t all been enough, I was offered an extra dessert to try, which was ras malai. One of the restaurant’s key desserts, this was refreshingly untouched and ‘authentic recipe with zero modern twists’ I was informed. The classic spongy milk cake was enveloped in a saffron flavoured creamy silk sauce and was rounded off with a generous sprinkling of pistachio and cardamom, making this a delicious sweet treat to end the meal.
Terrace at The Dilly serves up food all day long in its light filled space, and with its outdoor terrace space, provides a perfect spot for al fresco dining on warmer days. Arched glass rooves, windows galore and tall plants do a wonderful job of letting the outdoors in within such a central London location and the setting provides a welcome pause from the fast London pace.
Though I didn’t have very much room left after such a delightful dinner the previous evening at Madhu’s as well as tucking into a selection of goodies from the continental buffet for breakfast, the Peter Rabbit afternoon tea certainly looked delectable, and fun. And while you’re enjoying a moment to yourself in this botanical oasis, while dining on locally sourced London cuisine, you can grab a book or game from the bookshelves which have been stacked from Hatchard’s famous Piccadilly bookshop, established in 1797.
Being smack-bang in the centre of London allows you to enjoy all of the top sights that are within easy reach, from the shops to the West End theatres to the iconic sights that this wondrous city has to offer. The Dilly is one of those city hotels that works hard to ensure that every minute you spend inside its walls are filled with great moments, so after a day exploring London, you can return for a spa day; enjoy a swim, recline on a lounger and enjoy a soothing massage before a lavish dinner at Madhu’s or the Terrace. If you prefer to get a little more active, the hotel has a spacious fitness room for you to get a workout in and guests can take part in one of the dance classes, that are hosted via one of the many partnerships with local businesses the hotel has, within the sophisticated dance studio.
In a nutshell
With such a great location, located adjacent to Piccadilly Circus, facilities and suites that impress and food that tempts, you would be hard pushed to find a hotel in London that offers the whole package in such a varied and interesting way.
Rooms can be booked from £220 per night.