Executive travel: London’s Corinthia Hotel is a true five-star
The Corinthia claims to have the fastest internet of any hotel in London. I checked and got an amazing 30.2 Mbps compared with 8 Mbps from du at home in Dubai.
But at £2,452.50 (Dh11,712) a night, the only facility my River Suite overlooking the Thames lacked was a desk for a computer to actually access the internet.
However, the spacious 80 square metre room offered a dining table instead; located near the internet and multi-size plug sockets, it served as an adequate replacement.
I also used the complimentary business centre to print out some air tickets. There are four Microsoft machines, two printers and even a binding machine. Help is on call 24 hours a day. Staff standards are very high.
This five-year-old refurbishment of an 1885-original hotel, just off Trafalgar Square, was chosen to launch the James Bond 007 film Spectre because of reputedly being a former home of the British secret services, although naturally nobody can confirm or deny it.
In 2008 the building was acquired by a consortium including Dubai’s Nakheel Hotels and Libya’s sovereign wealth fund and lavishly restored into what my taxi driver said “really is a five-star hotel”.
Many London hotels do feel a bit dowdy and small in comparison to the glitzy modern palaces of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But you can’t say that of the Corinthia. It oozes Victorian glamour and grandeur with modern interiors the work of Madonna’s favourite designer David Collins.
Top choice would be one of the seven penthouse suites, each with its own distinct identity and featuring rooftop terraces with hot tubs. I checked out the £12,000 a night, all-white Hamilton Penthouse, named after the Napoleonic era vice admiral Horatio Nelson’s mistress, whose terrace has a view of him on top of his column in Trafalgar Square. The 294 rooms and suites, however, are more affordable, starting from £445.50.
For those vital extras during a business trip, having a shirt ironed costs £14 and a blouse £12, with a guaranteed turnaround of five hours. But I asked the suite’s butler for an iron and ironing board and that came in five minutes. Water from the mini-bar was £4 and a Coke £4.50; a club sandwich or a pepperoni pizza from room service were both £22.
What’s the hotel’s USP?
According to Thomas Fischer, the Corinthia’s general manager, it is the “closest hotel of this quality to the City”. He adds: “If there are no delays I can get from my office to the gate at Heathrow airport in one hour and 10 minutes.” Airport transfers are available for £150, but the nearby underground and Heathrow Express may be quicker during rush hour.
So is the Middle East an important market for the hotel?
Yes, but Mr Fischer says this is more for turnover than room nights, as “these guests tend to take our biggest suites and penthouses and travel with huge entourages”.
Can I book a meeting room?
The hotel has six designated meeting rooms on the mezzanine floor to seat 20 to 25 people boardroom style. Room hire costs from £450 to £1,200. The ornate ballroom can accommodate 250 for an annual general meeting and the adjacent courtroom 150.
How’s the spa for the downtime hours?
The Epsa spa is the largest in London and spans four levels of the hotel. I did not like the lack of natural light in this marble-clad facility, but it has everything from a 24-hour gym with six running machines and five bikes to a small pool, extensive thermal area and glass-roomed sauna.
How is business this year?
Mr Fischer says the first quarter of this year was the worst for London hotels in seven years, and the worst since the global financial crisis. “Blame terrorism,” he adds. “This summer is lower than last but trading at healthy levels. US visitor flow is flat and Middle Eastern guests are more cautious about spending.”
* The writer was a guest of the hotel
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Published: September 18, 2016 04:00 AM