Hotel Review: Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place in London
When it comes to luxury hotels, you’re truly spoilt for choice in London. In fact, there are so many upscale properties to choose from in the British capital, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Do you go for one of the huge global chain brands and forego individuality and style, or do you select a fashionable boutique hotel and possibly miss out on facilities and services?
The Corinthia London in Whitehall Place is neither boutique nor behemoth. One of nine five-star properties around the world belonging to the Corinthia group, it is quite simply the perfect combination of style and substance. Built in the late nineteenth century and once home to the British Ministry of Defence, this belle epoque property is situated at the foot of Northumberland Avenue almost directly across the Thames from the London Eye. Whilst within easy reach of the West End’s theatres and many of London’s prime attractions (Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery are a short stroll away), it is set just slightly away from the usual ‘circuit’ of celebrity hang-outs preyed upon by the paparazzi. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that many famous actors choose the Corinthia to stay at and be interviewed in — take a closer look at some of those magazine photo shoots and you may just recognise the backdrops after a stay here.
Ascend the grand-looking steps into the palatial lobby area and your gaze is unavoidably drawn to the stunning Baccarat chandelier with its 1,001 crystals sparkling overhead in the Crystal Moon Lounge where traditional afternoon tea is served. Explore a little further and you’ll find a Daniel Galvin hair salon as well as a florist selling versions of the stunning arrangements on display throughout the hotel. There was once even a branch of Harrods on-site but this has now been replaced by a boutique. Be sure to notice the unusual depiction of the River Thames hanging on the wall behind the check-in desk where smartly dressed reception staff deal courteously and efficiently with procedures.
The Corinthia’s 294 rooms, including 40 suites and 7 two-storey penthouses, are decorated in subtle but contemporary hues with high ceilings and huge windows that allow in plenty of natural light. All come equipped with a Loewe HD TV, Nespresso coffee machine, mood lighting control, media hub, safe and minibar. High-speed WiFi access is complimentary throughout the hotel. The marble bathrooms are spacious and luxurious with a built-in TV at the foot of the bath and high-end Espa branded toiletries are replenished daily. The ‘Executive Room’ I stayed in was more like a suite, featuring a massive walk-in wardrobe with plenty of space to try on clothes in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. From the bedroom area, a small balcony let out on to a handsome interior courtyard with a beautifully lit glass structure at its centre. If you need even more space to spread out, you could always hire the Royal Penthouse (one of the largest in London) for a mere £22,000 (plus VAT) per night. Thankfully, rooms and smaller suites are much more affordable and Corinthia’s website often has some good deals available if you’re able to book a little in advance.
There are four bars and two restaurants in which to dine: The Northall, in which breakfast is also served, offers modern British cuisine in a classic setting, whilst its sibling, Massimo, has achieved something quite rare for a hotel restaurant, having become established itself as a destination amongst London foodies for its excellent Italian fare. I was lucky enough to try both and enjoyed my starter of Cornish crab with avocado and lemon from the Spring menu in the Northall. For my main, I was tempted by one of the delicious looking steaks from the Josper grill but instead chose the organic salmon with green mango carpaccio from the ‘Brain Power Menu’ which has been designed by the Corinthia’s own reident neuroscientist, Dr. Tara Swart, to aid mindfulness and cerebral function. In Massimo the following evening, seated at a banquette underneath one of the beautiful orb lights suspended from the Italianate ceiling, I devoured braised artichokes with olive oil, garlic and mint to start, followed by the most tender Milanese veal Ossobuco with saffron risotto and gremolata. My partner proclaimed her lobster tagliolini “to die for” — and she’s an Italian food aficionado who’s not easily impressed! These were paired, at the sommelier’s recommendation, with a bottle of Terlan Quarz Sauvignon Blanc that delivered deliciously creamy notes of ripe mango. Service throughout the meals in both restaurants was professionally courteous and friendly without being in any way overbearing or unctuous.
Spa lovers will be in heaven to find themselves just a private lift ride away from the capital’s largest, Espa Life. It’s so big, in fact, that it is spread across four levels of the hotel, taking up 35,000 square feet in total. Finished in an opulent yet tasteful black and champagne colour scheme, this really is a temple to indulgence with every conceivable pampering treatment and experience available. There are swimming pools with air and water massage jets, various saunas including one in the style of an amphitheatre, a steam room finished in black mosaic tiles, an ice fountain, heated relaxation beds and even ‘sleep pods’, like those in a first class airline cabin, where you can relax in total privacy after your treatment, should all that decadence prove a bit too much for you. In addition to a further seventeen treatment rooms, a nail studio and an exclusive private spa suite, a fully equipped Technogym offers 24 hour access as well as guidance, should you require it, from a team of personal trainers.
Staying at the Corinthia feels like being in the know about where is really stylish rather than merely fashionable. The place has gravitas. It’s elegantly seductive without being blingy or ostentatious. It’s also ideally positioned for exploring the south bank of the Thames where, it seems, there’s another new and hip restaurant or bar opening every week. It really is a grand hotel for 21st century London.
Address: Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD | T: +44 207 930 8181 / W: corinthia.com/london