Feasting and Luxuriating at Corinthia London
By Ruth J. Katz
“Dazzling” comes to mind when you enter the imposing Corinthia Hotel off Trafalgar Square, housed in a stunning Victorian edifice. Grandeur with a swathe of modernity. The lobby lounge features a “Full Moon” Baccarat chandelier with 1,001 crystals and it sets the tone for what is beyond the meet-and-greet entrance.
Just a year ago, the hotel redid its former Massimo seafood restaurant, which had an equally striking décor, with bold, horizontal, black- and white-tiled stripes, reminiscent of the imposing cathedral in Siena. How could they possibly hope to top that? And yet they did. For starters, the hotel brought in Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge (two stars at his pub, The Hand and Flowers, and one star at his eatery, The Coach).
Kerridge, among his many accolades, was awarded the coveted Catey Chef Award in 2017, an accolade in the hospitality industry that is equivalent to an Oscar. Naturally, the new restaurant is called Kerridge’s Bar & Grill.
The renowned chef worked with the creative team from the revered David Collins Studio, a supernova in the world of hospitality design, and collaborated, also, with Pure CF for custom-designed furnishings, with superb results. The feeling in the grand (1,300 square feet), high-ceilinged room is that of a friendly and classy club. Warm and welcoming, the 80-seat restaurant embraces guests, with its ambience of relaxed dining . It is divided into nooks, demarcated by swirling semi-circle, latticed, enveloping booths, upholstered in burnished-chestnut, tufted leather. Pure CF also designed cheese and bread stations as well as the four sommelier stations dotting the landscape.
A singular aspect in the restaurant is the wall of revolving artwork, curated by Chef Kerridge’s wife, Beth Cullen-Kerridge, herself a talented artist, whose majestic bronze sculptures, “Steve” and “Dorsal,” prominently adorn the restaurant. The outstanding artwork also includes works of mixed-media artist Robi Walters, known for taking discarded objects and transforming them anew into something refreshingly reborn. Walters has crafted two of his signature “petal” pieces, using old and cast-off menus collected from hither, thither, and yon, by Chef Kerridge, including timeworn wedding menus and other oddball souvenir menus from global outposts.
As you might imagine, the food surpasses all else here; Kerridge’s reputation for creating a visionary take on traditional British fare is faultlessly executed. His fish and chips is elevated to new heights; his Cotswald chicken excites with its braised gem lettuce, pickled lemon, and soft, melt-in-your-mouth polenta. My dining companion and I were gaga over our desserts: Dark chocolate pudding with crystallized malt biscuit, salted caramel, and malted milk ice cream; Scottish raspberry and rose geranium trifle with white chocolate, gin baba, and salted oats. Expresso and cappuccino were served in bold, bespoke china—unusual, irregularly-striped, black and white cups and saucers.
Among the other jewels in the crown of the Corinthia is the ESPA Life Spa. Graciously spread out on four (count ’em) floors, this brand flagship could easily be thought of as the next generation in indulgent lounging. It is easily one of the largest (35,000 square feet) and most exclusive in Central London. (Private memberships are available.)
The glamorous décor appointments of the stylish treatment and changing rooms and the general public spaces will astonish—each floor more splendid and divinely designed than the next: Suspended fireplaces, aubergine-velvet sleeping nooks, lavish marble, sparkling crystal. As for the nitty gritty of the spa: Sports-minded hydrotherapy, with sundry air- and water- massage jets; an amphitheater-like sauna; a black-mosaic-tiled steam room; experiential, rain forest showers; heated relaxation beds. Aside from all the expected trappings, there are also sleep pods, thermally heated floors, two pools, and an eatery, serving healthy and enticing fare.
The spa is staffed by a battery of naturopaths, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists, herbalists, osteopaths, personal trainers, and spa professionals with diverse massage and body-treatment specialties. There are also facial, hair, and nail services. ESPA Life at the Corinthia is the winner of countless awards: The World Luxury Spa Awards “Luxury Wellnes Spa,” country winner for the UK and the regional winner for Northern Europe, 2018; World Spa Awards, England’s Best Hotel Spa, 2016; Best Spa in the United Kingdom, Spafinder Wellness Travel Awards, 2015; Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel, Best United Kingdom Spa, 2014[8.
But, then again, you don’t need to see a list of awards to know that spending a languorous afternoon here is the best elixir for your mind, body, spirit: A curative deep massage, an exhilarating water-therapy plunge, an invigorating cleansing in the steam room, a languishing rest in a cozy S-shaped lounger, all topped off with a mani-pedi…well, altogether they spell bliss.
The author of five books, Ruth J. Katz was the style/travel editor of Promenade magazine for eight years. She has written extensively for both The New York Times and New York magazine and has served as an editor or contributing editor at numerous magazines, including Redbook, Classic Home, Golf Connoisseur, and The Modern Estate. She has visited over 80 countries (and counting).