Boy, would I have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the pitching meeting. First off, unaccountably, the 'Marble Arch Mound' was dreamed up to encourage shoppers back to Oxford Street. Gee, now you mention it – nothing makes me part quicker from cash than hiking up a 25-metre hill! Somehow, £2 million was dropped on this idea.
Personally, I think they should jack entry fee up, because The Mound already has an ironic cult following (a bit like Tommy Wiseau's The Room). Currently, it costs £4.50 – a reduction from £8 – for the privilege of climbing this hill, around 5p a stride. The Mound’s marketing describes this as an experience of the ‘great outdoors’ – the 130-ish steps seem to detract from this. The structure isn’t so much sublime as a hillock-cum-scaffolding-cum- steps-leading-nowhere – of course, ‘mound’ is far catchier than that.
As you climb, all around are thirsty, browning patches of turf and shrubs lolling out of it. At the top, a metal viewing platform, you’re promised stunning views of Oxford Street and Hyde Park. All you can really see are the tops of a few trees – but fear not, because the journey’s not over. Next, pilgrims descend into the mound’s hollowed-out interior, where they find a gift shop and an M&S café. You’ll probably also see the concavity being used for storage. Lucky!