Friday, September 2, 2011
A few weeks ago I was interviewed on Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. The interview, which was part of the CBS travel editor’s weekly show, took place in the new Corinthia hotel in London.
Despite being in the hotel for the better part of an hour during the interview, the only part of the building I saw was a conference room. It was a nice room, but I had a feeling that there were other parts of the hotel that were worth seeing as well.
As such, when I was invited to return to the Corinthia for a full tour and dinner, I readily accepted. Last week I arrived at the hotel and met my guides in the lobby. When I entered, I was immediately struck by the gorgeous Baccarat chandelier that consisted of so many small globes suspended from the dome under which they rested. It was gorgeous.
My inner foodie also noticed the glass domes on a nearby table. Underneath each one was a different kind of cake or chocolate. It looked like the counter of a Victorian candy shop.
But the real candy shop was in the adjacent room. It was the only Harrods shop in London that was located in a hotel. It sold everything from sweets in pretty-in-pink wrapping to the company’s signature gifts.
In the same room was a floral extravaganza. The Corinthia hotel in London had given a florist free reign to set up a flower shop within its walls, and his creations graced many of the common spaces with cheerful color and superb scents.
One space that benefited from his work was the private dining room in the hotel’s Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar. The table was covered in vases of fresh roses. Rumored to be a favorite of celebrities like Johnny Depp, the room held up to 18 guests for whom chef Massimo Riccioli could cook a private meal.
For those that weren’t so lucky, the main dining room of the restaurant, which focused on seafood, wasn’t so bad either. Designed by David Collins, its decor was alluring with hints of gold, green leather, and geometric designs.
Also created by Collins was the next place we went. Bassoon bar was a whirlwind of sensory indulgence. From the sleek black counter that ended in a grand piano, to the ceiling, which was molded in the pattern of undulating sound waves, to the cocktails, which were creative and beautifully presented to the point that they rivaled the room for attention, the place impressed. It was bustling when we walked in for drinks, and I enjoyed the atmosphere as I sipped my English Tea Punch.
After drinks, I headed to the Corinthia hotel’s other restaurant, The Northall, for dinner with a friend. I started with smoked salmon and capers, which came beautifully displayed on the plate and tasted fresh and light. My friend enjoyed green asparagus with a goat cheese tart, which looked delicious.
For mains, we both had steak. My fillet was divine, and my friend seemed to enjoy her sirloin just as much. The Qupe Syrah from Santa Barbara was great with the meat, although I was a bit confused as to why the bottle we were served was a different year from the one listed on the menu.
For dessert we shared a chocolate cheesecake, which was soft and airy. It would have been fine without the marshmallows and chocolate on top, but I enjoyed it all the same. We also tried some of the special Damian Allsop chocolates, which were made with water instead of milk. They were smooth and rich, although I’m not sure I preferred them to their milk-made counterparts.
As we dined, we took in our surroundings. The restaurant was bright, with high windows letting in lots of natural light. It was decorated with neutral brown chairs, and it retained the original columns from the Corinthia’s first incarnation as the Hotel Metropole in 1885.
Some of the other spaces kept their original form as well. The ballroom had gorgeous molding on the ceiling that was discovered and restored in the renovation process, and the outdoor terrace was kept during the conversion, too.
Upstairs, the rooms had mostly been redecorated. I saw a suite with a sitting room that had a stunning blue color scheme with modern white accents. The massive bed and huge bathroom tempted me to sneak back upstairs after dinner to sleep off my food coma.
If that hadn’t sufficed, the smaller room I saw wasn’t too bad either. While it didn’t have much space outside of where the bed was placed, it was cozy and comfortable. But at 450 pounds a night, it was ever so slightly out of my price range.
I’m sure the new suites that are slated to open up in the next few months will be a bit dear for my pocketbook as well. But if I ever I go back to the Corinthia hotel in London for a radio interview, I might just have to ask for another quick tour to see the new additions. Until then, I will sleep in my own bed and dream of fluffy duvets, bassoons, flowers, and fillets.