Corinthia

It is difficult to recall much about the rooms and suites of this Whitehall Palace hotel. Though extremely spacious and impeccably outfitted, their simple charms and clever touches are vastly overshadowed by the steroidal ancillary facilities that whisk away willing guests onto an upscale, psychedelic roller coaster ride.    

"These facilities appear to be self-sustaining: around one corner you’ll find a dining room with an unwritten dress code of white terry cloth and wet hair."

It would be foolish to turn down a tour of the vast halls of “ESPA Life at Corinthia London,” the hotel’s truly massive spa complex, touted as the largest citywide. It is a serene subterranean world occupied by gently smiling attendants and practitioners in bathrobes, who shuffle through cool stone corridors toward various attractions. These facilities appear to be self-sustaining: around one corner you’ll find a dining room with an unwritten dress code of white terry cloth and wet hair. Venture further into the catacombs toward a larger-than-life-size, black marble bento box composed of swimming pool, pool-sized hot tub, sitting area, and glassed-in dry sauna. This particular sector of the spa is a voyeur’s dream: claim a poolside daybed and steal a glance at swimmers below, watch from the hot tub as the skin of languid guests melts onto the wooden planks of the sauna, or perhaps choose to take in the whole show from one of the towel-wrapped chaise lounges in the relaxation area. This veritable catbird seat provides a tableau of the entire scene through the dancing flame of a two-sided fireplace. Though if this view is held for too long, the spa does begin to feel more like a combination between an L.A. night club, a fringe Satanic sect’s house of worship, and a sex party in full swing.  

The scene upstairs in the Massimo Restaurant & Oyster Bar is another world altogether (albeit one from a neighboring galaxy). Guests are dwarfed by the restaurant’s soaring vaulted ceilings and sectioned off by its grey and white striped Corinthian columns. Coupled with giant glass orb chandeliers, these lofty marble candy canes give the dining room a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory feel, but wealthy Eastern Europeans replace children and the chocolate has been swapped for an assortment of overcooked crustaceans. After a few cocktails it seems the only logical culmination of the evening would involve the raw bar bursting apart, setting free a river of lobster bisque as the marble candy canes twirl and spray champagne. The Corinthia is a fine hotel, but its creators could truly use a lesson in restraint. JR      

This review is included in TTA6. Click here for more information about the issue.

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