A weekend escape in the city at The Corinthia
POPPY CROSS sets off in search of some peace and quiet within hectic London…
When I think about getting away from it all – the noise, pollution, pushing and shoving, traffic, congestion, crowds and generally the crazy pace of London life – my mind wonders to the mountains. I imagine that I am high above the cars and the chaos, ensconced in the pure crisp air of quiet unpopulated white peaks.
I picture days spent on skis under a brilliant blue sky and dazzling sunshine, rushing rosy-cheeked down pristine pistes and spending evenings curled up in front of a crackling warm log fire.
For me, that’s the definition of ‘getting away from it all’.
But what if you could find something this sublime whilst actually remaining in the centre of the city and still right in the thick of it? The stress and expense of travel would be spared and there would be more time to relax. My latest challenge was to do some research and plan a pilgrimage to find peace in London.
The Corinthia immediately grabs my attention as the place to stay and I whisk my boyfriend off in search of peace and quiet. The hotel boasts grand doors on the outside and is just as impressive on the inside. High ceilings, planet-sized chandeliers, a dome skylight and mirrored walls greet us with vast space and light. It feels immense, open, free and invites us to unwind.
The décor is neutral, save for the intense splash of vivid purple from the orchids on the centre table. There are flower arrangements everywhere and just off the lobby is the mini Harrods boutique. I notice the ornately carved butterflies encased on the walls and I think how fitting they seem here. Among other things, butterflies symbol lightness of being and playfulness – which is the impact The Corinthia is lending me already.
Our room is spacious but cosy with every modern convenience and more. There are white orchids on the table, several art books including one by Tracey Emin in the corner, an espresso machine with complimentary capsules (music to my ears) and as I step bare-footed onto the heated bathroom floor I decide I have most certainly found my sanctuary in the city. Just as I think it can’t get better, I open a drawer above the mini bar and pull back a small sweet shop. There are cola bottles, boiled sweets, chocolates, nuts, popcorn, crisps – it’s amazing.
I make a serious effort and succeed (for now) in resisting the sensational assortment. Instead, we don our spa finery and make a beeline for ESPA Life, The Corinthia Spa. Alas, as we enter we hear an almighty racket; it’s children’s hour. There is plenty of kicking, splashing and shrieking, but it doesn’t last too long. Once the exuberance subsides, all that is left is 3300 metres of fully-integrated wellness. There is also an amphitheatre style sauna, hammam, steam room, ice fountain, long fireplace and a fiber optic light that alternates between hypnotic shades of blues and purples in the relaxation room.
After an hour of hopscotching in and out of the sauna, steam room and hammam, it’s time for our deep tissue massages. The ESPA products are wonderfully aromatic and the therapists know how to work your muscles to release any aches and pains. I honestly don’t know what kind of trickery was at play, but I could have sworn I was sprawled out on the bed for just five minutes and not 50 (note to self; opt for the 80-minute massage next time!).
After leaving the spa feeling completely relaxed, I nip back to the room to get ready for dinner at the Northalt, which is the hotel’s British restaurant. Our food comes quickly and is exceptionally cooked and seasoned. My boyfriend, Charlie, makes me try his carpaccio of beef fillet because apparently I will ‘seriously miss out’ if I don’t. It is indeed, sensational. The tender thin slices full of meaty flavor are intensified by a creamy poached egg and soft herb dressing with pieces of salted cauliflower.
I am very happy with my steamed scallops, which come with purple sprouting broccoli and carrot and cardamom sauce. It’s toothsome, soft and crunchy. Charlie then tucks into his beef burger, which heralds similar praise as the carpaccio and I slurp down celeriac soup after it is dutifully poured over pieces of roast goat’s cheese and crunchy caramelised pistachios. The dish is wonderful, but I wish I had a whole bowl of the roast goat’s cheese and caramelised pistachios, not just a sprinkling.
That night, we sleep like babies and awake to a kingly breakfast. Having well and truly excelled at breakfast we feel a walk is in order. Sunshine beckons us outside and we enjoy beautiful views as we walk along the river. We pass the Houses of Parliament and London Eye, and take in the Shard and the Gherkin in the distance.
Later that day, we kick back and relax with the Sunday papers in the lounge. Natural light floods the room from the dome shaped skylight and large windows, with a crystal chandelier illuminating the space. We enjoy fresh peppermint tea with cookies and William Curly chocolates. Epic pastries, chocolates, cakes and scones surround us on decorative multi-tiered silver cake stands but our consumption remains modest, even though it looks very tempting.
As the day draws to a close, we both feel peaceful, relaxed and satisfied by our indulgent overnight stay. London, you did it, I found my peaceful escape.