Review: Corinthia Hotel London
IT’S BEEN five years since the five star Corinthia London on Northumberland Avenue first opened its doors to the public – a grand Victorian building given a new 21st-century lease of life following £300m of investment.
Any teething problems it might have had in its early days of re-opening appear to be ancient history. The welcome and service from the smartly suited staff is as impeccable ever: slick and professional; retaining a sense of formality yet simultaneously warm and personable. Check-in and luggage handling was a breeze.
Once you’re free to take a walk around it becomes quickly clear why this place is at the very higher end of the capital’s hotel roster: immaculate, lavish interiors, with high ceilings and a spacious lobby shot through with natural light.
The huge, spherical Baccarat chandelier with 1001 individual crystals is a real centrepiece, suspended over elegant furniture where afternoon teas are taken alongside informal business meetings.
Upstairs my room, of which there are almost 300, is spacious and warmly decorated with oak panelling and mahogany fittings, while the lustrous white-marble bathroom flaunts his ‘n’ hers sinks, standalone shower with handheld or rainfall options, and a built-in bathtub TV that makes it even harder to get out of the bath.
The executive suite options offer even more in the way of space and luxury, while the penthouses take things to the very highest level, crowned by the Royal Penthouse whose Twilight Terrace affords panoramic 180º views over the Embankment and River Thames, with St Paul’s and the city’s skyline rising in the east.
If you’re the kind who enjoys an indulging pamper or relaxing treatment then London’s largest spa and wellness centre – ‘ESPA Life’ – is literally beneath your feet here. Spread out over four floors, it presents an unrivalled selection of complementary alternative therapies, beauty treatments and fitness options, with facilities including an indoor silver pool and vitality pool, black mosaic steam room, amphitheatre sauna, Daniel Galvin hair salon and 24-hour gym.
An internationally acclaimed team of naturopaths, osteopaths, personal trainers, spa professionals and traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncturists and herbalists are all on hand at ESPA Life to ensure your treatment is of a world-class standard.
The hotel maintains its high standards when it’s time for breakfast or an evening meal. Its showstopper restaurant The Northall is another aesthetic trump card: vast curved glass windows, Neo-classical ceilings and opulent crystal chandeliers, overlooking immaculately dressed tables, curvaceous window banquettes and studded leather chairs. A raised mezzanine level provides additional space for further tables, whose lucky occupants get a bird’s-eye-view over everything below.
As for the lunch and dinner menu, put together by Culinary Director Garry Hollihead, it is very much modern British, showcasing the breadth of the country’s culinary strengths, and focusing on seasonality, sustainability and traceability through close relationships with artisan producers.
So for example, a starter of dressed Cornish crab, crab cake, pickled cucumber and dill chutney is underscored by its provenance: Marr Family Boats, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland; while on the Josper Grill section you can order 28 day dry-aged native Angus grass-fed beef from Lake District Farm, Cumbria. I tried both these options, both of which were delivered with real flair in preparation and presentation.
If you’d prefer something a bit different then Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar, occupying a space on the opposite side of the hotel, is all about authentic Italian cuisine with a fine-ding verve, and is visually no less impressive than The Northall: striped columns, mosaic flooring, muralled walls and giant glass bauble light-fittings overhanging cosy leather booths.
For post-prandial or late-night drinks there is also the elegant Bassoon Bar on the ground floor, which combines an intimate ambience with a fine range of bespoke cocktails, boutique spirits and quality Champagnes. And most evenings play host to ‘Signature Sessions’ live music, which has previously included performances from Lana Del Rey and the Scissor Sisters, no less.
One of the other great things about Corinthia London is simply its location, just a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square and the official centre of London, marked by a monument outside Charing Cross station. Yet in spite of its proximity to the tourist bustle of this central area, Corinthia’s triangular spot tucked beside the Embankment is relatively serene, so a peaceful night’s sleep is as good as guaranteed.
It’s no wonder the hotel has attracted a steady stream of celebrities in the years since its reopening, including Jemima Khan, Colin Firth, Cuba Gooding Jr and Kenneth Branagh, who was actually sat at a neighbouring table when I had breakfast in The Northall.
To conclude things on this note, as long as Corinthia London can maintain these meticulous standards then it will remain a magnet for the country’s, indeed the world’s, great and good when choosing a luxurious venue for their London stay.
At the very least I will be returning to its Bassoon Bar on a Friday or Saturday evening as there aren’t many nightspots in this neck of London’s woods that can provide such a classy touch.
For further information, and to book a room, go to www.Corinthia.com/London
Address: Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD
Review by Kris Griffiths