The lowdown The Corinthia Hotel opened with a bang earlier this year when the Bafta nominees descended for a pre-awards dinner in the newly refurbished ballroom. Colin Firth and his wife Livia have returned several times since to enjoy the sumptuous rooms and delicious food in the smart environs of Whitehall Place, a stone’s throw from the river and cultural hotspots of the Southbank.
Built in 1885 as the Metropole hotel and requisitioned by the Government in the First World War, it was sold in 2007 to the Corinthia Group and work began to restore it to its former glory. Artificial low ceilings were removed, marble fittings imported from Italy and the crumbling original stucco lovingly restored.
The heart of the hotel is the circular Lobby Lounge, illuminated at night by a six foot Baccarat chandelier made up of tiny, floating glass orbs. Light and airy thanks to the large glass dome in the ceiling, it’s the perfect place for a tranquil afternoon tea or a glass of pre-dinner champers. After dark you can retreat to the lavish Bassoon bar (where the door handles actually are bassoons) and ask the barman to whip you up an immaculate Manhattan to drink with a ‘food cocktail’ of lobster and soused oranges. Perfection.
The rooms There are, of course, all the 21st century mod cons you’d expect at a five-star hotel, from the Nespresso coffee machine to the TV screen built into the bathroom wall so you can catch up on the news from the depths of a bubble bath. The décor is soft and muted, in shades of beige and light brown, with a chaise longue for putting your feet up and a leather-topped writing table so you can pen missives to relatives. The sound proofed windows make it very easy to forget you’re in central London, but draw back the blinds and most rooms afford sweeping views of the city. If you splash out on the Sir Winston Churchill Suite, you’ll have your own private terrace with an exterior fireplace and views of St James’s Park and The London Eye.
Dining There are two restaurants to choose from: the Northall, serving robust British cuisine and furnished with a modern-traditional mix of squashy leather seats, mushroom-coloured walls and contemporary light fittings, and the Mediterranean Massimo Restaurant and Bar (above left) on the opposite side of the hotel. Before you’ve even enjoyed the Massimo’s delicious red mullet and fennel you’ll be taken by the gorgeous high-ceilinged setting (the ceilings throughout the hotel are so high the BFG wouldn’t have to crouch) accentuated by large grey-striped marble pillars and gilt-edged booths reminiscent of Russian themed fashion-pack favourite Bob Bob Riccard.
The spa The Corinthia are busy putting the finishing touches on their brand new ESPA spa, which will be the biggest of its kind in the UK, stretching over four floors and incorporating 17 treatment ‘pods’, a steel swimming pool and state of the art gym. Perfect for unwinding in after a long day of sightseeing.
The details The Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place,
London SW1A 2BD, tel: +44 (0) 20 7930 8181. Room rates begin at £450 for a Superior Queen (excluding breakfast).
By Lucy Pavia