James Clark checks into The Dilly London and finds an elegant hotel with excellent service, as well as an Indian restaurant with a Kenyan twist.

A hotel has dominated no. 21 Piccadilly since 1908. It’s gone through various changes, and today The Dilly London is the new name above the door.

The 255 rooms and 28 suites hotel opened its doors this year on 17 May following an exciting renovation and rebrand.

Set in the very heart of London’s West End, Piccadilly Circus attracts an estimated 100 million Londoners and visitors every year heading to bars, restaurants and theatres.

And if that’s not enough Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Green Park and Buckingham Palace are all within walking distance or just a short tube journey from the underground station two minutes away.

Viktoriya Wilton dancer in the Oak Room
Viktoriya Wilton dancer in the Oak Room, The Dilly.

The second most impressive thing about the hotel – the first is the striking white on black with a hint of red Lobby area – is the service provided.

I was greeted warmly at the door by a young man in a colourful bow tie, and made to feel extremely welcome by the young woman behind the reception area.

I was expecting the sort of snobbery I’ve received at other five stars hotels, but staff at The Dilly have managed to move away from that and keep it polite and friendly. A really nice, encouraging and refreshing touch.

There are various rooms available, but I opted for a Classic so I could access the Club Lounge. It’s not available to all guests.

The Classic Room at The Dilly

Contemporary yet elegant rooms at The Dilly
Contemporary yet elegant rooms at The Dilly

The newly refurbished room was modern and comfortable, with gleaming white walls and large road maps of London. The Dilly sign above the double bed was a lovely touch.

The room came with tea and coffee making facilities, USB ports by the bed, a robe and slippers, and an iron and ironing board.

My seventh floor room overlooked the round the clock hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus, but surprisingly I was undisturbed throughout my stay. The sound proofing works at The Dilly.

Other Facilities at The Dilly

I decided to have a wander around and check out the hotel’s facilities. The Piccadilly Health Club & Spa has a much larger pool than I’ve discovered in any other central hotel, a squash room, various exercise equipment rooms – everything is well spaced out, a spa with treatment rooms, and a relaxation and a steam room.

As Day Meets Night

Banging the Gong at The Dilly
Banging the Gong at The Dilly

At 6pm every day in The Dilly’s lobby, hotel guests hear the sound of a ceremonial Edwardian dressing gong six times from the Club Lounge. It signifies the change from day to night and the hotel literally transforms into an evening setting. Lights dim and candles are lit.

I headed to the Club Lounge for a London Dry Gin & Tonic and to chat with other guests before venturing to The Terrace to join colleagues.

The Terrace offers a British classics inspired menu, prepared with regional produce. It looked delightful, but I was keen to experience the pop-up restaurant and bar Madhu’s which isn’t just a pop-up – it’s planning to stay.

Madhu’s at The Dilly
Some of the excellent cuisine at Madhu’s
Some of the excellent cuisine at Madhu’s at The Dilly.

The family run business set in the ground floor Oak Room is a real eye catcher.

The listed ballroom has original oak panelling and chandeliers. It’s not difficult to imagine some of the fun had there over the years, and there are pictures of days gone by to prove this.

That’s not to say that it isn’t fun today. The Oak Room delivers Punjabi cuisine with a Kenyan twist from recipes passed down over an impressive four generations.

Established in 1980, Madhu’s has earned a reputation for the highest standards in Indian fine dining so I was happy to be guided by the smiling waitress and jumped at the chance to try chilli paneer – cottage cheese marinated in ginger and garlic, tossed with green chillies, onions and peppers to start. It carried a warming and delicious kick which prepared me for what was to follow.

Robata chops is one of Madhu’s signature dishes, consisting of New Zealand lamb chops, marinated in ginger and aromatic spices. It was tender and flavoursome. I could taste the Kenyan flair in what I expected to be a Punjabi dish. It worked perfectly. Unfortunately, they were not prepared to hand over the recipe.

Lavish interior at  Madhu’s at The Dilly.
Lavish interior at Madhu’s at The Dilly.

After dinner I headed to my room for a few hours’ sleep as an unexpected telephone call meant a ridiculously early start.

The Dilly also has its own in-house dance studio where guests can learn Smooth, Latin and Ballroom from a roster of world-champions in private or group classes. Sadly, I didn’t have the time to try this out.

James’ Verdict

No. 21 Piccadilly is changing and moving into a new age. Yet it has managed to keep so many of its elegant and original charms. I rate the hotel high for standard, comfort and service. I can’t wait to see what The Dilly does next as more rooms are set to reopen to the public. I am excited by the news that the Madhu’s pop-up is staying in the Oak Rooms. The combination of outstanding food and exceptional service makes this a Dilly winner.

The Dilly Piccadilly

21 Piccadilly, London W1J 0BH

W: thedillylondon.com

Rooms start from £219