The splendid Corinthia Hotel on London’s Whitehall may have once been the hallowed domain of the Ministry of Defence, but these days the only high level meetings are likely to be in one of the seven stunning penthouses adorning the rooftop.
Make no mistake, this hotel is a class act. A genuine 5 star property that has, in a relatively short space of time, turned this once sullen and staid slice of London between the Thames and Trafalgar Square, into a high-end playground that might now even give Mayfair a run for its money.
It’s hard to imagine those Whitehall mandarins in today’s context. The Victorian-era high ceilings and vast interiors remain, but everything else is top drawer luxury, from the marble floors and Edwardian style woodwork to lofty columns and cornices. The Lobby Lounge, a vast domed room dwarfed by a magnificent 1,000 baccarat crystal chandelier, or the Bassoon cocktail bar with its 17 foot bar cum piano. And throughout, a seemingly endless supply of high definition flora changed every three days by the Corinthia’s in-house florist.
Following my lobby experience, I just manage to raise my dropped jaw high enough to speak my name as I check in. “Good morning Mr. Mossack, we have your reservation here. What time would you like your turn down service to arrive? We can offer you between 5.30 and 9pm.” Now that’s an impressive start. No awkward housekeeping interruptions to worry about before dinner.
It turns out my room isn’t quite ready, so the invitation for a quick coffee in the Lobby Lounge is gleefully accepted. The temptation to dive head first into the waiting cakes and pastries is thankfully averted as my promised coffee materialises. Not only is it a beautiful blend, but the requested cream has been pre-warmed for me. Another small but resounding tick in my mental checklist.
Upstairs, my Executive King room doesn’t disappoint. An expansive space with soft creams and browns and the odd splash of colour with a warming purple carpet and a couple of turquoise pillows. There’s a comfy couch, a table with two armchairs and a an Ottoman at the end of the Hypnos bed.
I test out the balcony looking out over an inner courtyard, which at first glance is a little disappointing as many of these rooms offer a view along Northumberland Avenue. That said, I like my view. It’s peaceful and calming and I can see myself sitting out here, glass in hand having a read.
The large Italian marble bathroom is a study in ESPA toiletries, his and her sinks, a deep bath and a separate, wickedly decadent rainforest shower. The Nespresso machine winking at me from the shelf is invitation enough for another rich brew before heading out to explore a riverside stroll along the Thames, flowing just a few strides away.
Early evening back in The Corinthia and the mood has changed. The lights are lower, the pre theatre crowd is in and the art deco Bassoon cocktail bar is open for business. Rocco is guiding me through an impressive list of drinks competing with the pianist putting the 17 foot Roland piano through its paces. “If you like whiskey then the Lion Heart is the one for you.” How can I resist the lure of a 12 year Dalmore with Pierre Farand orange curaçao and orange and chocolate bitters (£17).
It doesn’t disappoint and sets me up perfectly for a memorable dinner in Northhall, a celebration of British cuisine and British artisan suppliers lorded over by new Head Chef Ewan Simpson. It’s one of two fine dining restaurants at The Corinthia, the other is Massimo’s, an Italian restaurant and oyster bar set within a glorious tableaux of striped Corinthian columns and golden art deco.
Perhaps it was the fine bottle of Côtes du Rhône at dinner or simply the Hypnos bed doing its magic, but either way it was a blissful night’s sleep. More than ready now to explore the spa before breakfast.
ESPA Life is quite literally indulgence personified. Spreading over 4 floors, it’s a landscape of marble, chrome, flickering flames and black lacquered walls. 17 treatments rooms, an endless list of therapies and a Daniel Galvin hair salon. Even the gym is a remarkable example of the multiple ways I can tone my body. The indoor swimming pool, vitality pool, amphitheatre sauna and ice fountain are more than enough distractions before falling into a marble heated lounger to recover in time for breakfast.
Back up at Northall, the breakfast feast gives me the opportunity to actually taste those tempting pastries I spotted in the Lobby Lounge yesterday. Custard filled croissants and blueberry crumble cake taste as good as they look.
“Do you have any sugar-free jam?” my wife asks “three kinds madam, strawberry, peach and apricot.”
it’s another big tick in my mental checklist for diabetic options, overlooked by so many luxury hotels.
The Corinthia Hotel London is one of a clutch of luxury properties owned by the Pisani’s, a Maltese based family still headed by founder Alfred Pisani, who have been in the hospitality business since 1962. It is a glowing testament that in a world where faceless international conglomerates operate our lives, a family business can, through craftsmanship and attention to detail, provide a luxury hotel experience that is about as perfect as it gets.
Just make sure your jaw doesn’t drop to far.
Tell me more about the Corinthia Hotel London
Whitehall Place London SW1A 2BD
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7930 8181
Rooms from £420 per night.