As part of a new series of posts, I am going to be sharing the top ten things I love about some of my favourite hotels around the world. Where better to start than one of my absolute favourite hotels in London, Corinthia. Formally the Hotel Metropole, a home of society balls at the turn of the last century before becoming Winston Churchill’s Ministry of Defense, the site was bought by Maltese-owned luxury hotel group , Corinthia in 2007. After years of reconstruction and renovation, Corinthia opened to much fanfare in 2011. A luxury hotel that boasts a fantastic location, jaw-dropping views, an incredible array of dining and drinking options and home to the most impressive penthouse suites in the capital, Corinthia is one of London’s finest hotels.
1. The Lobby
As the first thing you see (and experience) when entering a hotel, a lobby can make or break a hotel experience. Although more traditionally a place of endless check-in desks, welcome drinks, impatient and jet-lagged guests desperate to get to their room and errant suitcases galore, hotel trends in the 21st century have evolved to the extent that lobbies are now often one of the best spaces in a hotel. Now a place to relax, people-watch, check emails or even meet a friend, the lobby has never been more important as a social space to enjoy yourself. Corinthia boasts, in my opinion, one of the best, if not the best, lobbies in London (the other one being Claridges). With the ‘functional’ spaces tucked away on either side as your enter through the double doors, the lobby is a vision of streaming light, endless space, fresh flowers and that Baccarat chandelier (entitled ‘Full Moon’ and designed by Chafik Gasmi, the chandelier boasts over 1,000 individual Baccarat globes). It therefore comes as no surprise that, as such a pleasant space, Corinthia’s lobby serves as the backdrop for a wide range of activities. In less than a year I’ve found myself there for evening cocktails, afternoon tea and a work meeting.
Just off the lobby, if you are walking off your afternoon tea, it won’t be long before you stumble into the hotel’s very own Harrods boutique. On paper, it sounds impressive, but in reality, it’s even better. No longer is there the need to brace the impossible crowds of Knightsbridge’s clueless tourists or take an international flight from a over crowded terminal for you to get your hands on some quintessentially British Harrod’s produce. A bright and airy space, lit by an elegant chandelier, you’ll find the usual scented candles, biscuit tins and fancy jams, sandwiched between the hotel’s lobby and the Northall Bar. If you feel inspired from all the fresh orchids on display (the hotel’s speciality), you’ll be pleased to discover that Ercole Moroni has also set-up shop just opposite. If for nothing more than to simply stand in awe of the fresh flower displays and take in the many enticing aromas, this famous florist is well worth a visit.
3. Best Bedrooms in London
A perfect blend of fresh and fancy, but not so feminine that they will scare then men away, rooms at Corinthia are to die for. Along with fresh flowers and killer views (more on that later), the attention to detail and homely, fun touches in each room is impressive, especially for a hotel of its size; a cupboard door might reveal itself into a drink’s cabinet, your shower will have a shelf the perfect height for resting a leg that needs shaving, your armchair might boast a pillow embroidered with a friendly sausage dog, or, your mini-bar might be hiding a slick flat screen TV. In addition, colour schemes flow seamlessly within rooms without feeling themed or forced, all the necessary technology is available (including free wifi – hooray!), and, crucially, lighting is flawless (an aspect not often considered, but a deal-breaker, especially when you’re searching for your international adapter in the middle of the night). Combine this with ample space, clever storage solutions, sexy bathrooms and larger than life beds, and it’s easy to see why rooms at Corinthia are some of the best in the capital.
4. Endless Dining Options
If it’s one thing you aren’t going to be short of at Corinthia, it’s a place to eat and drink. With endless options, this is one of the few luxury hotels in London where you could happily endure a 72 hour lock-in, and come out of it feeling only disappointed that it had come to an end. For Afternoon Tea, cocktails, mid-morning coffee and cake or a light snack, The Lobby Lounge is the answer. For breakfast, lunch or dinner, The Northall, celebrating traditionally British produce in classic and elegant surroundings is good value and, crucially, doesn’t feel like a restaurant hotel (a personal pet peeve). Alternatively, if you fancy Italian, Massimo Restaurant serves up classic dishes in exquisite surroundings. For evening drinks you have the pick of The Northall Bar, an understated but glamorous watering hole, Massimo Oyster Bar, a hedonistic art deco creation, The Courtyard (see below), or the Bassoon Bar, a David Collin’s designed, decadent jazz-inspired cocktail bar. Really fussy? There are even multiple options for private dining; a mirrored leather-clad room off The Northall Bar serves up to 30 with a seasonal menu and the Chef’s Table at Massimo is intimate and special, without feeling cordoned off and sterile. Hungry now? I thought so…
5. Inner Courtyard
Useful in both summer and winter, Corinthia’s courtyard is a stroke of genius. Corinthia has managed to get past the post-smoking ban dilemma of where to park its smokers; you won’t find this well-heeled crowd outside on the pavement. In the winter, two open fires warm the space considerably, so much so that even the non-smokers are tempted outside with their fun-loving friends and guests have been known to think that they’re sitting in a conservatory (that is, until the rain starts). In summer the olive tree, seasonal strawberry bushes, blooming creepers and outdoor furniture make this the perfect al fresco hang out that, thankfully, unlike nearly everywhere else in the capital, doesn’t require a queue and a stroppy door-girl to get in to. Gourmet guests will be thrilled to discover that the courtyard is also the setting for the hotel’s signature summer picnic-style afternoon tea. Pick your own strawberries from the bushes (seriously) and enjoy a delightful array of sweet treats from your home-made hamper.
6. Penthouse Suites
At most hotels you are lucky if there is one penthouse suite. However, Corinthia isn’t most hotels and boasts no less than seven penthouse suites. And this is one of those rare instances where quality hasn’t been sacrificed for quantity. All absolutely fabulous and complete with a personality and special features of their own, Corinthia’s penthouse suites include The Actor’s Penthouse, The Explorer’s Penthouse, The Whitehall Penthouse, The Writer’s Penthouse, The Musician’s Penthouse, The Hamilton Penthouse and The Royal Penthouse, coming in at just over 460 square metres. All have been designed for different needs; the Writer’s Penthouse comes complete with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves crammed with a fantastic selection of page turners (should you be looking for some inspiration), The Royal Penthouse is equipped with a butler’s kitchen, internal lift, private spa suite (like something out of your wildest dreams!) and roof terrace offering 180 degree views of the Thames. As you might expect, the best roof terrace has been designed for the most diva-like clients, the musicians. The Musician’s Penthouse (pictured below) features an open hang-out area (open fire included) with views of almost all of London’s major attractions; look out for St Paul’s Cathedral, the gherkin and the London Eye.
7. ESPA Spa
Supposedly the largest spa in London, Corinthia’s ESPA life spa, set over four opulent floors, is their global flagship. For good reason too – this hedonistic heaven, a vision of fresh whites and slick black marble, is pure pampering perfection. If you need proof, it won Conde Nast Traveller’s award for ‘Best Hotel Spa’ in 2012, no mean feat. Boasting a vitality pool, surely the sexiest swimming pool in London, 17 treatment rooms, sauna, and ice fountain (obviously). Whether you’re looking to work out in their state of the art gym or catch up on your beauty sleep on one of the heated loungers or private sleep pods, this is the place to do it. Unlike many city spas, ESPA at Corinthia manages to make you completely forget where you are; an afternoon spent here (on one of their very reasonable day packages) can do more to lower your stress levels than a week in the sun. And if that isn’t enough reasons to go, Corinthia also boasts an outpost of stylist-to-the-stars Daniel Galvin’s famous hair salons.
8. The Bassoon Bar
One of my favourite London hotel cocktail bars, The Bassoon Bar really stands out of the crowd. A David Collin’s designed delight, the Bassoon Bar has bucket loads of character. Inspired by the jazz-loving wild party days of the twenties and thirties, this wonderful watering-hole is tucked away so that only those in the know manage to make their way through its doors. Combine the seven metre long grand piano masquerading as a bar, atmospheric New Orleans-esque paintings on the walls, Gatsby-era light fittings and leather banquettes and top-notch service and the result is one creme-de-la-creme cocktail bar. With such glittering surroundings, it can be easy to forget the cocktails, but be sure not to. With an inventive team of mixologists, the drinks menu at the Bassoon Bar includes everything from bubblegum martinis to English Tea Punch.
9. The Location
Although this trend is on the decline, typically luxury hotels in London have gravitated towards the touristy parts or town; Park Lane, South Kensington or Piccadilly. It was intriguing therefore when the news reached everyone’s ears that Corinthia was opening metres from Embankment. Some critics were, and remain, confused by this location. ‘It’s nowhere near anything’ they cried; ‘miles from any shops, restaurants and the major sites.’ But they couldn’t be more wrong; in my eyes Corinthia’s location is one of the best in town. A minutes walk from Embankment tube station and a short stroll to Trafalagar Square and Charing Cross, guests at Corinthia can get anywhere they need to fast. In regards to sites… well, Theatreland begins just opposite, some of the city’s best art can be found at nearby National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, a ride on the London Eye involves simply crossing Hungerford Bridge and once on the Southbank you’re in the vicinity the South Bank Centre, Jubilee Gardens and London Aquarium. For first-time visitors to London, Nelson’s Columns, the Royal Opera House, Horseguard’s Parade, The Mall, the Houses of Parliament and even Buckingham Palace are easily within walking distance.
Wherever in the world you’re staying, but even more so if its a central city hotel, it’s always nice to have a view. In this respect, Corinthia is up there with the best. From its selection of penthouse suites, the capital’s iconic buildings combine to create London’s legendary skyline in front of your eyes. Sir Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin, Big Ben and the city’s many bridges all combine to create a terrific kaleidoscope of colours and contours. Views from their penthouse suites are sensational, but lower category rooms also aren’t too shabby. The Whitehall Suites look out over the legendary Scotland Yard, staying in a Trafalgar Suite will mean looking our over Nelson’s Column and River Suites score top marks with views of the Thames, the Southbank and the glittering London Eye. Even a stay at one of the hotel’s Superior and Deluxe Rooms will mean a view of the interior courtyard and bubbling fountain.
I hope that this article has inspired you to visit Corinthia, one of my favourite hotels in London. Let me know what you love about it – I’d love to hear from you.