London calling

corinthia_spaThe stylish five-star Corinthia Hotel is the last word in luxury, as Katharine Capocci discovers on a shopping/spa break in London

If you’re thinking of a quick break in London for a spot of shopping combined with seriously good spa time, then the centrally-located five-star Corinthia Hotel could prove just the tonic.

corinthia exterior

The stunning spa hotel, situated in tranquil Whitehall Place, just around the corner from Downing Street, and a short stroll from Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, combines grandeur with heritage.

The Corinthia is a pretty special place – a hotel with the definite wow factor. It’s the second time I’ve stayed and is fast becoming one of my go-to luxe hotels in London. A-list visitors include the likes of Colin Firth and Victoria Beckham, along with the well-heeled ubiquitous Made in Chelsea stars.

What I love most about the Corinthia is the beautiful Victorian building it’s housed in. It has a grand hotel feel and dates back to 1885 but combines traditional grandeur with modern freshness.

It has masses of period character throughout, from the original restored ballroom, Victorian columns and high ceilings. It started life as the prestigious Hotel Metropole in the 1800s before being taken over by the Government and used as Ministry of Defence offices.

It opened up in its current luxury hotel guise in 2011 – and has 294 rooms including 40 suites and seven penthouses.

My husband and I savoured every moment of what was a flying one-night visit. We’d already hit the shops beforehand so it was with a sigh of relief that we checked in to our executive king guest room. A very comfortable and tranquil base, contemporary in style, with all mod-cons including spacious marble bathroom with under-floor heating, giant bathtub with built-in TV, tropical rain shower and ESPA toiletries.

corinthia front-entrance-night

If you’re after the ultimate in luxury, though, go all out and book one of the two-storey penthouse suites, opulent guest residences built within the soaring turrets of the building.

Dinner in the hotel’s chic Art Deco-style Italian Massimo Restaurant & Bar was an evening to be savoured.

corinthia massimoI’ve dined here during the day when the space is bathed in natural light. By night the restaurant takes on a very different feel, the Corinthian columns beautifully lit by globe light fittings, turning it into a pretty romantic setting. It’s a place to dress up for, and the authentic fine dining Italian dishes are served up with a creative touch.

One of the major attractions at the Corinthia is its impressive ESPA Life spa, housed over four floors. This is where my husband and I were headed after a restful night’s sleep and fortifying buffet breakfast in the hotel’s Northall restaurant.

It’s such a tranquil space and includes 17 treatment rooms, pool, amphitheatre sauna, as well as Daniel Galvin Hair Salon, nail studio and state-of-the-art gym.

The sauna is the perfect winter warmer and my favourite spot, gazing on soothing fires flickering behind glass, as you ward off any remaining winter chills.

Whilst there I indulged in an ESPA personalised facial, lasting 90 minutes. This was seriously pampering – utter bliss, and included a triple cleanse, exfoliation and steam, followed by pressure point and lymphatic facial massage finishing with a facial mask bespoke to my skin. Pricey admittedly, but wonderful!

Afterwards, we spent the morning relaxing in the spa with dips in and out of the pool and a warm-up in the sauna, before chilling out in style on marble heated beds. Sleepy heads, we emerged from our wellness breaks after 30-minute naps. So much pamper time can be so wearing!

Feeling fully rejuvenated, we’d saved our appetites for treaty afternoon tea. And here at the Corinthia they do it in some style.

Champagne afternoon tea in the Crystal Moon Lounge with its soaring dome and bespoke artworks is an absolute must. Be dazzled, as we were, by the glittering ‘Full Moon’ Baccarat Chandelier, made from 1,001 crystal baubles, and a grand focal point.

It’s a light and airy space, overlooking an attractive courtyard. We enjoyed tea with the fizz factor, with an array of delectable dainty finger sandwiches made using artisanal breads, scones and creative fancies.

There was a very knowledgeable tea sommelier on hand to guide us through all the teas on offer too. Do also check out the beautiful floral displays in the lounge.

It was with a heavy heart we checked out as it had been such a treaty stay – and the fact that we spent a full 24 hours in the confines of the hotel was a day very well spent.

Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD. Tel: 020 7930 8181.

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