Great Central Street is neither great nor central, being a short road opposite Marylebone Station. Instead, it was named for the Great Central Railway, whose aspirations included making Marylebone the hub for a train service stretching across Europe. There is, however, a rather glorious Victorian building on its west side.
A grand station would need a grand hotel, and so the Great Central Hotel was planned. When Sir Edward Watkin, the railway's amibitious leader, ran out of funding the project was taken over by Sir John Blundell Maple - better known for the Maple's furniture company. Since they were already leading furnishers of London's hotels, a move into building one perhaps didn't seem too great a leap. Indeed, Sir John also opened a Maple's shop in the station, so hotel residents could buy the furniture if they liked it!
In 1899, this large, grand hotel was opened, attached by a glass and cast-iron canopy to the small station behind. A large central courtyard not only brought light to inner bedrooms but allowed coaches to bring their passengers to the heart of the hotel; it later became a winter garden and is now a restaurant.
The hotel is perhaps the most tangible reminder at Marylebone of what the railway project was envisaged to be, in contrast to its more modest outcome. As a railway hotel, the Great Central enjoyed only a few decades of success; once railways lost customers to cars, the hotel's popularity declined. In the Second World War it was used by the army - Airey Neave was debriefed here after his escape from Colditz; thereafter, it served as offices for the British Railways Board.
Like its older sister at St Pancras, however, the Great Central was destined for a return to glory. It reopened as a hotel in the 1990s and is now the five-star Landmark Hotel.