Living it up in London

The Corinthia Hotel London is as first-class as it gets

After our extended cruise on Regent Seven Seas Explorer, we delighted in being booked into the Corinthia Hotel London. We were impressed the minute we entered this stately hotel, one of London’s most elegant properties. It combines grandeur with heritage and a modern touch and is ideally located in the heart of the city. It is perfectly positioned, as it is within walking distance of Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery and the inimitable London Eye. It’s the perfect place to spend your time in London.

What is Corinthia, you ask? Corinthia is a collection of hotels founded by the Pisani family of Malta in 1962. Says founder Alfred Pisani: “In a world of mass-produced experiences, we offer our guests the made-to-measure.” This is the philosophy with which Pisani has run his family’s business since the 1960s. An unbending focus on bespoke service means guests feel part of the family from the second they set foot in one of Corinthia’s stunning five-star hotels, whether it’s a historic destination, a waterfront retreat or a luxurious oasis in the heart of a sought-after city.

Our suite was indeed gorgeous, and it was an absolute pleasure that we had a butler to attend to all of our needs. 

One great highlight was afternoon tea. A little background: It was in 1840 that Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, noticed she felt a certain “sinking feeling” around mid-afternoon. However, after she was served a pot of Darjeeling tea, with some bread, butter and biscuits, she felt decidedly better — and the afternoon tea was born. As I sat and enjoyed tea here, in a beautiful room off of the lobby, I was struck by the “beautiful people” who were here in droves. The hotel attracts a well-heeled crowd, outfitted in couture clothing and accessories, who made it apparent that coming to this posh hotel was a special event. Afternoon tea featured cucumber, radish and cream cheese on white bread; smoked salmon and marmalade curd on brown bread; and tandoori chicken with green apple and raisins on white bread — to just name a few sandwiches. Plain scones and those with raisins were served with organic strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. The desserts were just as delightful — including cocoa nibs, coffee and caramel mousse; lemon drizzle cake; and even marshmallows in the flavors of banana, red apple and praline. How divine. My favorite confection at the hotel, however, was the “very berry” pure-fruit tea consisting of a wide selection of British berries and other dried fruits. Of course, the array of teas is as tall as Big Ben, whether you want your matcha, your oolong or your herbal fix.

The only thing better than afternoon tea was dinner at Kerridge’s, a world-class restaurant created by renowned Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. Right off the bat I could have made an entire meal out of the scrumptious treacle bread, it was that good. Then let’s not forget the “pawprint” logo of the restaurant, which pays homage to Kerridge’s boxer, Georgie. (All of the staff here wears a little pin on their lapel, featuring said pawprint. How adorable.) Starters feature, among other things, cider-and-white-onion soup; Cornish crab spring rolls; and mushroom risotto with wild garlic and aged parmesan. For dinner, you can order a pig’s cheek pie with clotted cream mash; West End Farm pork belly; or my favorite, the stuffed Cotswold white chicken with white asparagus and morels. I must say, it was perhaps the juiciest piece of chicken I have ever eaten.

The hotel also houses ESPA Life at Corinthia — a haven spread over four floors that is dedicated to relaxation, health and fitness. Along with a wealth of fitness equipment, the spa facilities feature a special lounge with exceptional cuisine; a private spa suite; 17 treatment pods; hair salon; nail studio; sleep pods; and a thermal floor consisting of a swimming pool and a vitality pool with water massage jets. And just when you didn’t think the spa could be any more fabulous, it offers molecular cosmetics and skincare by Barbara Sturm, M.D. The German aesthetics physician is recognized for her nonsurgical anti-aging treatments and methods for rejuvenating the skin. She began her medical career in orthopedics as part of the team that developed cutting-edge, anti-inflammatory treatments for osteoarthritis and back pain. Termed the “Kobe Procedure” after patient and NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant, the treatment utilizes the patient’s own blood cells to produce proteins that reduce inflammation and stimulate the healing process. Try the Instant Glow Facial to get back your youthful radiance.

Let’s face it — I’ve never met a concierge I didn’t love. The exceptional Corinthia concierge was also instrumental in getting us tickets to “The Phantom of the Opera.” The unstoppable “Phantom” has been playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre since 1986 and has become a worldwide phenomenon. It has been seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and is the longest-running show on Broadway. Amusing fact: “Phantom” is widely considered to be one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most accomplished scores, and yet, ironically, the musical was originally conceived as a tongue-in-cheek romp in the style of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with a soundtrack consisting of snatches of 19th-century operas by the likes of Léo Delibes and Jules Massenet. 

Whether you’re staying at the Corinthia London — or heading out to “Phantom” — both are well-deserving of your “Bravo.”

By Debbi K. Kickham and William D. Kickham.

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