While The Cumberland by Marble Arch station has a long history – dating back 90 years – you’ll most likely recognise the London hotel from its five-year stint as the Hard Rock Hotel. Back in May (2023), it changed hands back to its original owner, and although they’ve had a total revamp, here still sits an epic, music-themed hotel that’ll treat you like a VIP. I headed to The Cumberland, London, for dinner, drinks, and an overnight stay; read on for my review.
Staying at The Cumberland
I’ll be honest, upon hearing the hotel’s name, I expected a stiff-upper-lip-style hotel; this couldn’t be further from the truth. I uttered “Wow” to myself as I entered the initially inconspicuous building, as a whirlwind of sound and colour welcomed me into The Cumberland. The decor is simply breathtaking: memorabilia lines the walls, Fender guitar ropes lead you to the front desk, live music wafts over from the Sound Cafe, and there’s a whole colourful cab sitting in the middle of the lobby. The hotel felt so vibrant and full of life compared to the rainy weather and its own grey exterior.
The hotel has a rich history of housing music legends, including – but not limited to – Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Jimi Hendrix, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, and throughout the hotel, they are honoured, alongside London’s cultural and musical history. Most elements of the hotel are named for musical terms, such as ‘Backstage’ and ‘The Green Room’, and the love of music seeks into every aspect of the stay.
There are a staggering 900 rooms in the property, spanning eight floors. In my room, I loved the Crosley Turntable, and the full-length mirror, marked out with famous singers’ heights (I did not realise Snoop Dogg was that tall). I later learned I could head to the Backstage area in the lobby to browse The Cumberland’s vinyl collection, and have my favourites delivered to my room.
Another unique service offered is the guitar room service. Staff can deliver a Fender electric or acoustic guitar, ukulele, or bass, alongside a mini amplifier and a pair of headphones so that you can jam all night long. Alas, my musical skills are limited to the piano, but I still thought this was pretty cool.
Away from the guest rooms, The Cumberland offers a lively entertainment schedule down in the lobby. You’ll find the hotel restaurant, with live music seven nights a week (more on that later); a sports bar, which boasts seven screens and a hearty menu; and a regular bar, which sits as a focal point under a flashy, rainbow-lit structure. It is in the regular bar that you can partake in a private cocktail-making class with an expert bartender – and that’s exactly what I did.
For former or current bartenders, the cocktail-making class may not be a far throw from a regular experience, but for me, with just a couple of months of pub work under my belt from over a decade ago, it was a novel experience. To step behind the bar in such a slick setting, and make two cocktails I love, was incredibly cool. The bartender leading the session was knowledgeable, friendly, and patient, and he imparted knowledge, including the secret to measuring a free pour without a jigger – I poured the perfect double shot on my first go, FYI. After he guided me through making a margarita and a zombie step by step, he then quizzed me on each drink.
Dining at The Cumberland
After all the excitement (and tasting) at the cocktail-making class, I moved to a table in the contemporary restaurant for dinner. Sound Cafe primarily serves up a selection of British classics and American-inspired dishes, including burgers, BBQ steaks, and fish and chips. I opted for the eponymous Sound Burger and I was impressed: the burger was huge, the bacon was cooked just right, and there was even an onion ring inside. The chips were done rather well too.
There is nightly live music until 10.30pm at Sound Cafe, which sets a fabulous tone for an evening of drinking and dining. Performers span genres, including jazz, rock, and soul, and the events calendar sees performances from local and international artists alike.
Alongside the live music, another cool feature of dining with The Cumberland is the service. Yes, the staff are friendly, and helpful, but even more impressive, they’re accompanied by robots. The robot-to-table service is solely to deliver and collect food, so you still get human interaction during your dining experience. However, to see these little robots whizzing around the place, avoiding humans and furniture, was hilarious, and very cool.
While I can only give my review of the dinner, I was advised The Cumberland also hosts afternoon tea, and a daily bottomless brunch, comprising two courses and 90 minutes of bottomless drinks for a pretty purse-friendly price in London (£30pp).
To round up my review, I must say The Cumberland is one of the most vibrant London hotels I’ve visited in recent years, with such a distinctive personality. Despite the fact Oxford Street lies seconds away from the front door, I felt I had everything I needed within the hotel’s confines; it was such a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The Cumberland is most definitely a hotel I’d return to in future.