The facts are quite plain; our great capital city, a luxury hotel by the river with stunning views and a gripping story of justice, passion and betrayal performed inside magnificent surroundings.

It makes the case for a fantastic night away in London.

Picture in your minds the bustling South Bank and towering above it the County Hall, whose vaulted ceilings and wood panelled chambers have witnessed many important moments of the capital’s history.

Previously the headquarters of local government in London – where Ken Livingstone as Leader of the GLC squared off against Margaret Thatcher across the Thames – County Hall occupies a position in the heart of the city.

The Edwardian Baroque-style building, viewed from Westminster Bridge, with its elegant columns and windows and curved frontage is an imposing sight.

I must admit to having walked past the place many times down from the London Eye towards Westminster Bridge, and not paying much attention to it, because at ground level on the river side there are usually crowds outside the tourist attractions, and you feel you just want to get past them.

But County Hall deserves closer inspection. It is a building of many parts.

Opened in 1922, it was home to London County Council, then the GLC until 1986. It was home to the Saatchi Gallery from 2003-05, and now the vast site houses two hotels, several restaurants, apartments, a conference centre, along with the Sea Life London Aquarium and Shrek's Adventure attractions.

Within these surroundings, a thrilling courtroom drama is being played out for the stage.

The former debating chamber, accessed via Belvedere Road, has become the Old Bailey and the scene set for Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution.

Following an 18-month break due to the pandemic, the hit production returned last September.

Audiences are placed in the thick of the action as Christie’s enthralling tale unfolds around them – the trial of Leonard Vole, accused of murdering a widow to inherit her wealth.

I won't give too much away but this play deserves to be seen in this magnificent setting. You can even pay a little extra to sit in the jury box. The chamber is such an atmospheric place and perfect for this courtroom drama and the play had me guessing until the end.

The current cast includes Joe McNamara as the accused, Emer McDaid as Romaine, Jonathan Firth as Sir Wilfrid Robarts QC, Miles Richardson as Mr Myers QC, Christopher Dickins as Inspector Hearne, Teddy Kempner as Mr Mayhew, and Yvonne Gidden as Janet Mackenzie.

Around the other side of County Hall, with an entrance on Westminster Bridge Road, is the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, a 5-star hotel, which opened in 1998.

Entering through a long covered passageway which opens up into a grand courtyard, I wasn't particularly taken by the artificial grass on the roundabout or the fake Queen's Guard in his sentry box.

But all that was forgotten when I entered the stately stone building housing this luxury hotel. It's a grand old place on the ground floor with its wood-panelled walls, wall lamps, and in the lobby a marble fireplace.

Upstairs there's more a modern feel - the rooms and suites have quirky features including pocket watch print curtains, bowler hat artwork and wallpaper which doubles up as a map of London.

The views – which include the London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament - are outstanding, and it's this as well as the hotel's central location which makes it a winner. After making coffee on the Nespresso machine, I found myself staring out the window for a long time taking in the sights and watching the world (and the river) go by.

The hotel boasts 206 spacious guestrooms and 12 event rooms. Spread across two floors at the top, the fitness centre has a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and a 6,000-square-foot gym.

Dining is at Gillray’s Steakhouse, and as the name suggests the speciality is steak. The menu features meat hailing from eighth generation butcher O’Shea of Bermondsey and fresh fish from Billingsgate Market; all served and savoured with a side of London’s best river views.

Being a non-meat eater the steakhouse isn't really aimed at me, although they did serve me up a very tasty vegan burger.

It's the same setting for breakfast and there is an amazing choice suitable for all tastes.

Gillray’s Bar next door boasts more than 120 gins including their very own Gillray’s gin.

All the evidence points to a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

*London Marriott Hotel County Hall prices from £300 per night in a deluxe room. Visit

*The run of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution has been extended to September 25, 2022. Evening performances Tues-Sat and matinees Thurs, Sat and Sun. Tickets from £12. Visit