A stone’s throw away from Covent Garden’s piazza lies Middle Eight. The hotel takes its name from the musical term “middle eight’, an interlude or bridge that differs in character from a song’s melody and is used to inject variety through a change of key or tempo. That idea runs through the hotel’s entire fabric. The aesthetic is very much modern but the building itself was previously Kingsway Hall which dates back to 1912 and was famed for the acoustics that saw it become a legendary studio for classical and film music. Today Middle Eight boasts 168 rooms, an Italian restaurant, a bar & lounge space that also serves afternoon tea, and a live entertainment venue. With all that under one roof, we just had to visit and try it all.
We’ll start at the lobby because, well because it just makes sense. We received a warm welcome from the reception staff and were immediately seated and offered a drink as we went through the check in process. Although the check in was pretty swift they weren’t shy about giving you refills on your drink, which you could take up to your room with you – even if you opted for the glass of prosecco. That kind of welcome was exactly what you’d expect of the warm ambience created by the lobby that puts stunning natural materials to the forefront including a reclaimed oak reception desk.
We were then shown up to our room by a member of staff who ran us through the room’s amenities. We stayed in the Promise suite and if it was an option I would have never left. The room embodied luxury from the moment you entered it with plenty of space for you to do literally whatever came to mind. The living room area is the space you immediately walked into which has plenty of comfy seating which flowed through to a separate dining area under a skylight on one side and a corridor on the other. There were two restrooms along the corridor and at the very end a full length mirror and cupboard space. The last two spaces were the bedroom, which was a good size and kept simple in terms of aesthetics, and the separate shower and bathroom equipped with a free standing bathtub that you could see from your bed – if you opened the dividers that is.
As great as a big hotel room is, you could get that anywhere, right? Well, that’s where the Promise suite did everything right. From having touch controls for everything from the lighting, temperature, and curtains to the fact that there were Sonos speakers throughout the property they’d thought of everything. In the living room alongside the TV was a digital fireplace and in the cupboards aligning the walls were several books, magazines and board games all for you to enjoy during your stay alongside the expectedly well stocked minibar. The practical quality of life decisions in the rooms were also much appreciated with plenty of sockets to charge devices, more than a few mirrors, and a hairdryer already in the room. Staying in the suite you’ll feel like a star and with how big and comfy the bed is, you’ll sleep like one too.
‘The Covent Garden Crescendo’: A musically inspired Afternoon Tea
The first real experience of Middle Eight for us came in the form of the Afternoon Tea, so it was the barometer the rest of the visit was measured by. We were shown from the reception area up a short flight of stairs into The Balcony. The Balcony’s aesthetic is complete comfort. The interior is reminiscent of a library thanks to all of the books on the walls but features plenty of cosy seating options and a colour palette of neutral tones with pops of colour.
The Afternoon Tea leans into the musical theme through the harmony of flavours, textures, and gorgeous plating. There are plenty of tea options, we’d recommend asking for the Covent Garden blend if you’re a fan of peppermint tea but want to try something different. There is of course the customary fizz accompaniment too, but we all know the real star of the show is the food.
Served on the traditional tea stand, what’s actually on the plates is definitely not your average fare. You’ve got the sweets & cakes layer as the real eye catching piece on top with designs that link back to the hotel’s musical DNA with chocolate guitar decorations, fondant topping a decadent praline filled eclair in the design of piano keys, and a sheet music design made from chocolate on delightful pistachio macarons. The sandwiches were also a surprising star with every one of them being great – so good in fact we ordered extra. After having tried all of that, the scones were exactly what you’d expect – fresh, buttery, with a good bite to the exterior and light on the inside that was complimented with a rich but not overpowering cream and a jam that brought just the right amount of tartness to balance the sweetness.
Sycamore Vino Cucina
Middle Eight’s on site restaurant, Sycamore Vino Cucina, takes its menu cues from Italian all-day dining so expect pappardelle, tortelloni, and plenty of parmesan and pecorino available. Its decor is kept minimalistic, with one great feature being the huge double-height floor to ceiling windows offering views out onto Great Queen Street. The decor of course wouldn’t matter too much if the food couldn’t also match up to it. Thankfully Sycamore Vino Cucina’s food easily matches up to its design.
Having had both breakfast and dinner in the restaurant we really got to experience the dedication to providing excellent quality food along with top tier service. Being served by David at both sittings we were warmly welcomed in with any questions quickly answered and even a few much appreciated suggestions as we went back and forth over making the all important decisions of what to order. Having had the Himalayan salt aged ribeye for dinner, which was by far the best steak I’ve had in the last year, and their take on a Full English breakfast, again I need to highlight the quality of the produce. Both dishes are relatively simple, so whilst of course, the chefs do a great job of delivering perfectly cooked food on every occasion, the calibre of ingredients really helps the dishes to shine that bit more.
QT is Middle Eight’s entertainment venue that seeks to continue the musical legacy of Kingsway Hall, hosting live performances on its stage. The sophisticated speakeasy has its entertainment spearheaded by weekly performances from the incredible Leo Green but also has regular nights such as ‘The Ultimate R&B and Soul Show’, ‘Divas!’, and a ‘West End Cast Party’ that’ll have you dancing with the stars. QT works as an interesting space within the hotel as whilst it lines up perfectly with the rest of the building’s sleek and contemporary design philosophy it does manage to carve out a niche for itself. It thrives as both an extension of the hotel’s values as well as a standalone venue.
There are two entrances to QT with a private entrance at street level and for hotel guests, you can enter via the grand staircase in the main lobby (or the lift if you prefer). Coming through from the hotel side you could get a bit of a shock – but in the best way. Despite the grand staircase entrance, the doors that actually take you into QT are relatively unassuming so it might take you a second to adjust to the vibrancy of blues and oranges that canvas the speakeasy’s intimate interior.
Attending on a night of one of the aforementioned Leo Green performances, we were greeted on arrival by Gatis. Gatis is the manager of the QT presents series and he adds as much to the experience as Leo Green as his band do. The entire QT staff are phenomenal and does a great job of being attentive without ever overstepping the line. They offer tableside service whilst the show goes on and despite there only being one bar it never felt as if there was much of a wait between ordering and receiving drinks. Once Leo and his band took to the stage it was a night of Jazz fun for all that bounced around from classics to twists and medleys of modern tracks à la Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, and more. The ability of the talent on stage alone would have made it a standout evening, but Leo and his team go the extra mile in making the show interactive, jovial, and an experience you’ll want to return to.
Middle Eight delivers on its label of luxury at every opportunity, so whether you’re planning a staycation, celebration, or are just visiting London – Middle Eight should be up there on your list for where to stay. Better yet, whether you’re a guest staying in the hotel or visiting one of their venues you’ll always be treated like a VIP. It’s definitely a venue that feels like you’re treating yourself and we’d recommend visiting for exactly that reason. It of course comes at a price, but everything about it from design to staff, to quality makes it absolutely worth it.