In an interview for Upscale Living Magazine, I spoke with Renaud Gregoire, General Manager of the Corinthia Hotel London. We discussed the rich history of the building, the kinds of accommodations available with specific attention to the Whitehall Penthouse, tell-tale signs of the Corinthia brand, their award-winning spa, and his top 5 tips to enjoying both the hotel and the city of London.
Tell me a little bit about the Corinthia Hotel London, the history of the building, and its significance to travelers today.
Corinthia Hotel London is one of London’s finest 5-star luxury hotels and is housed within a building that has stood on Whitehall Place for over a century. The grand Victorian building has three distinct phases to its 125-year-old history. Dating from 1885, the building spent fifty years as the prestigious Hôtel Métropole known for its Midnight Follies and parties before it was taken over by the Government in 1936 and used as Ministry of Defence offices. Since 2008 the building has undergone a meticulous restoration to return it to its original function and former glory as Corinthia Hotel London. Having opened in April 2011, we have seen a huge change in the luxury travel market. The expectations of our guests are growing increasingly and we are adapting our services to the different types of cultures visiting the hotel. Shortly after the hotel opened in April 2011, we launched our seven individual penthouses and these have dramatically raised the standard of luxury across London.
What kind of penthouses are available at the Corinthia London?
We have 294 rooms, of which 43 are suites and 7 are penthouses. The penthouses are built within the soaring turrets and each has its distinct style and unique hand-crafted bespoke finishes and furniture. The seven penthouses are each named after different personalities typically found in London– The Royal, The Hamilton, The Musicians, The Writers, The Whitehall, The Actors, and The Explorers. Designed by GA Design International, the penthouses evoke an elegant residential style, all with expansive outside terraces complete with exceptional and phenomenal views across the capital.
With regard to the Whitehall Penthouse, what makes this particular residence unique in terms of design, furnishings and architecture?
At 1,745 sq ft, the Whitehall Penthouse has a private internal lift that leads to the retreat designed for guests who habitually wield power and influence. The penthouse is inspired by Sir Winston Churchill, who on Armistice Day 1918 stood at the window of the building, then used as his own Ministerial office, watching the crowds celebrate below.
With the dark oak lime-washed paneling and red leather-paneled bookshelves, the living room and study have the genteel elegance of a refined gentlemen’s club, albeit with light contemporary touches. On the upper turreted floor, the king-sized bed stands on a sumptuous rug surrounded by dark stained oak with a light lime wash. Outside, on the private terrace with views towards Whitehall and Big Ben, a giant chess set provides diversion from the affairs of state or business.
What are some of the signature, tell-signs that this property whole-heartedly represents the Corinthia brand?
I think the design of the hotel is definitely one of the first things you notice when you think of Corinthia London. We have this grand piece of architecture that has been given a modern twist. There is a huge amount of attention to detail that has gone into it from the flowers in the public areas that change weekly to the imprint of the leaves from the trees on Northumberland Avenue on the lift doors. This attention to detail is also noticeable in the service and the incredibly personal and individual approach that we take.
In terms of amenities on-site and other guest services, what sets the Corinthia London apart?
We are incredibly lucky to have ESPA Life at Corinthia which is one of the top spas in London. We have just been awarded the Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers award for the ‘Best UK Hotel Spa’. The spa looks at complementary and alternative medicine as well as an array of fitness, soft tissue therapy and grooming services. The highly specialised ESPA Life team work together on each individual to create tangible and visible wellness results. In terms on in room amenities all rooms come with a Nespresso machine, ESPA products across our hotels, and the best mattresses in the business by Hypnos, in fact they are so good the Queen endorses them ‘by Royal Appointment’. Each one is handmade and contains natural fillings like wool, cotton, cashmere, and silk to regulate body temperature. Finally I think it is worth mentioning our ‘Crafty Concierge’ offering. This is aimed at teenagers travelling with their parents who want to experience an ‘off-the-beaten’ track activity. This could be anything from ‘ Small Car, Big City’ mini coopers tour around London or the ‘Thames Jet’ speed boat.
What are your top 5 tips to newcomers on how best to enjoy their stay, both at the hotel and in the surrounding area?
Explore the area—we are within walking distance of about 50 different theatres and cultural experiences (Houses of Parliament, National Gallery, English National Ballet). Make sure you try the spa, ESPA Life at Corinthia, and have a 50min personalized massage to get you back on track after a long flight. Also, afternoon tea under the soaring ‘Full Moon’ chandelier in the Lobby Lounge or dine al fresco if the weather is good. Definitely try a Bubblegum Martini whilst listing to live music in Bassoon bar. And finally, follow the Royal Park trail (St James’, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens) and watch the Changing of the Guard starting at 11.15am at Buckingham Palace.
For more information, visit www.corinthia.com/hotels/london