From the ornate splendour of its golden sandstone exterior, to the arresting views across the Thames from the roof terrace of the Royal Penthouse; Corinthia have not only succeeded in returning this once iconic building to its former glory, but in surpassing it, crafting a Grand Hotel truly fit for the 21st Century.
Dating back to 1885 where for fifty years it was known as the prestigious Hotel Métrôpole, Corinthia has subsequently been in Government hands since 1936, when it was taken over for use as Ministry of Defence offices. Thankfully however, in 2007 it was decommissioned and put on the market, where (IHI owned) Corinthia Hotels won the bid, courageously taking it under their group wing, where for three years they meticulously restored it. Its original 600 rooms have now practically doubled in size, bringing the count down to 294 rooms, of which include 36 suites and 7 penthouses. The two-storey, highly exclusive penthouses built within the turrets of the Victorian building, have been widely commended as being amongst the most opulent residences in London, boasting floor spaces of between 1,075-5000 sq ft and featuring expansive roof terraces with spectacular views across the capital.
Having recently had the privilege to stay at the Corinthia Hotel London with my partner, I was suitably impressed to find that even the entry level (Deluxe Junior) Suite had a well-appointed and decisively generous living space of 65 sq m (700 sq ft). The interior of our suite was instantly welcoming, with a warm yet distinctly masculine colour scheme, comprised of muted burgundy shantung silk walls, beige upholstery, Art Deco mahogany furnishings and a dark oak parquet flooring set beneath a brilliant white ceiling, the latter of which appeared to open the room up and give it airy yet sleek contemporary twist. Given that I unfortunately had to finish off some work when I first arrived, the ‘man’s cave’ of a reception room was a welcome addition; including a Widescreen LED TV that was tastefully hidden behind a sliding leather panel, whilst an identical one on the opposing wall hid a Nespresso Coffee Machine.
Feeling in my element sat on the sumptuous designer leather chair behind a gentlemanly mahogany desk, surrounded by James Bond gadgetry, I was glad to see that the boys toys did not end there, in fact this place had them all, including a plethora of lighting modes, under-floor heating, in-built widescreen TV in the bath and the all-important large head rain-shower.
As if to win back some brownie points from my fairer half, the bathroom was utterly remarkable, naturally the finest white marble throughout and utilising all the finest fittings money could buy. A large glamorous mirror sat centre stage between a marble top of ‘his and her’ sinks that were in turn flanked by a number of sensual scented creams. Strategically situated in front of this was an inviting upholstered dressing room seat, which soon lured my partner in quicker than I had taken to the man’s cave.
I was given a gracious tour of the hotel before dinner and was wowed by every room, from the extravagant lobby lounge chandelier (by Chafik Gasmi), down to the most intricate details such as the panels on the lift doors that featured intricate castings of leaves taken from local parks (by Based Upon). The Corinthia truly deserves its Grand Hotel title, and having drawn upon the talents of the world’s best designers, craftsmen, artists and architects it is hardly surprising that every room and detail was a spectacle in its own right.
I unfortunately did not get time to visit The Northall restaurant on this occasion, which is overseen by three times Michelin starred chef Garry Hollihead, but given my passion for seafood, frankly nothing could have drawn me away from heading straight to Massimo Restaurant & Oyster Bar (opened by chef Massimo Riccioli), to sample their irresistible selection of oysters and Crudo (the Mediterranean equivalent of Sashimi). The staff (headed up by bubbly Assistant Manager Stefano Pisola on the night) were incredibly knowledgeable of the menu, inspiring us with their insightful recommendations, whilst never outstayed their welcome, yet always attentive and on hand when required. The Oyster Bar was without doubt my highlight of the evening and besides the exquisite fresh Scottish and Irish oysters, favourites included scallops with orange & vanilla salt and the and an incredible mackerel dish with coriander, lime and ginger which perfectly finished the oyster session and opened up the taste buds for the Italian dining experience to be had in the main restaurant.
Too spoilt for choice to know where to start on our mains, Stefano suggested that he create a taster menu for us showcasing their finest seafood cuisine. Now whilst an excellent idea in principle, it has to be said that Italians do like their food, and the sheer quantity served could easily have fed an entire family.
The feast that followed was a banquet of seafood including grilled octopus, potato & green bean salad with salsa verde, a taster loin of yellow fin tuna and native lobster spaghetti, tomato, spring onion and basil. Our last dish was a whole monkfish served with ligurian olive oil and amalfi lemon.
After what seemed like a couple of hours of devouring one of every species in the sea (or at least the tastiest ones), we somehow managed to contain ourselves with some divine hazelnut chocolate ice cream and an acutely fresh apple sorbet; both of which had naturally substantially more enticing Italian names.
Evening drinks and entertainment were taken care of in Bassoon, the experimental ‘molecular cocktail’ bar and this place immediately seduced us with its suave interior, oozing with sophisticated Art Deco glamour and paintings that depicted the gold age of jazz, which was a fitting backdrop for the live jazz duo that provided the soundtrack to the evening. Given the amount of champagne and wine that had accompanied our oyster bar and restaurant dinner, molecular cocktails sounded a little too dangerous at this point in the evening, but needless to say that it rounded off an incredible evening and will definitely see us return again to see the resident mixologists to work.
Words genuinely cannot do justice to the breathtaking beauty of the Corinthia, which is by all accounts one of the finest hotels in London …and the world for that matter. Regardless whether booking in for a night, sampling the cuisine, meeting for an evening rendezvous in Bassoon, or simply dropping by to admire the iconic lobby lounge, the Corinthia Hotel London is a true landmark destination that needs to be seen to be believed.