London's Corinthia Hotel is a modern Victorian gem
Surrounded by the city's famous past this distinguished hotel still manages to embrace the future.Neil Churchill August 21, 2016
For hotel lovers, London is the promised land. There are more famous, distinguished and immortalised hotels per square metre in the English capital than anywhere else in the world, many of them relics of a bygone era of Victorian hospitality.
However, that can often mean that a hotel’s heritage and history overpowers, while modern comfort and necessities are left behind. In other words, most of these grand old hotels could do with a lick of paint. The dream of course is finding a blend of the two, which is exactly what the Corinthia Hotel has achieved.
Carved within a huge, ornate Victorian building, the five-star property blends 21st Century luxury and modern freshness with timeless and traditional British grandeur.
With 294 rooms, including 40 suites and seven penthouses, the hotel’s enviable position just off Trafalgar Square offers stunning views across the River Thames and London’s political district Whitehall, while popular tourist spots such as the West End and Covent Garden are within strolling distance.
The hotel’s entrance sets the theme with plush furniture and modern art cuddling original and restored Victorian columns and architecture. Just past the reception lies the impressive and welcoming Lobby Lounge with its spectacular full moon chandelier, made from 1,001 crystal baubles, hanging beneath a stunning glass dome. A bustling space with private alcoves, it’s well worth taking a seat and joining the city workers and other tourists in sampling the hotel’s extensive tea menu, regarded as one of the finest in town.
Off to the side is The Garden Lounge, which offers all-day dining options in an al fresco setting. Nice for a midday snack but better for an evening tipple and cigar, especially if you’re looking for a secret, green hideaway from the crowds.
Two restaurants may not seem like much choice if you’re accustomed to five-star GCC hotels, but offering any more in a city with such a strong dining scene would be risky.
The Northall serves British produce throughout the day with Garry Hollihead, winner of Michelin stars at three different restaurants, at the helm. He even has a greenhouse on the hotel’s roof where he grows fruit and vegetables that go straight onto restaurant’s menu – his lemon verbena and balm in the desserts, for example.
Massimo, on the other hand, is a modern Italian restaurant with a Gatsby-era look and feel; its stone columns and glass sphere lighting only belittled by the brilliant food. There is also the Bassoon Bar, a musically inspired, classic-styled haunt serving molecular cocktails and nightcaps inspired by colonial times.
The Corinthia claims to have the largest room sizes across all of London’s luxury hotels, averaging 45 square metres. While we didn't personally measure our room, EDGAR’s Executive King was certainly large with tall windows letting in swathes of natural light.
The furnishings were plush and luxurious, but most of all homely. Thick carpet covered most of the wooden floor on which sat mini wingback chairs, an ottoman, a chaise lounge and a mini-bar cabinet. The bathroom’s sliding double doors revealed a bathtub with TV, his and her sinks and a rain shower, all basked in natural light.
The overall feeling is that the rooms haven’t been overcomplicated. There aren’t 20 switches to operate the lights and air-con; there are five, and they’re clearly named. All too often a hotel goes overboard on modern-day advancements and complicates simple procedures – not the Corinthia.
Be sure to keep one morning free for a trip to the hotel’s next-generation spa. The ESPA Life is spread across four floors, with 17 treatment rooms, an indoor pool, sauna, ice fountain, private sleep pods and many other features.
There’s a reason it’s previously been voted the best spa in Europe, and the hotel is deserving of a similar title itself.