The Corinthia Hotel London & the McLaren Ball

By Karen

Corinthia Hotel London
Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2BD
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 20 7930 8181

Karenable Rating  🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

SSO and I decided to accept the invitation to the 2017 McLaren Ball. We had heard the prior Balls were nothing short of spectacular and this year our schedules cooperated for once. Plus, it was an opportunity to go back to visit London pre-Christmas; we miss England having lived there for over a dozen years.

McLaren arranged for us to stay at the the Corinthia Hotel in London. Although we thought we knew London pretty well, we had actually never heard of this hotel. The website looked great, but we did think it was odd that McLaren was not having us stay at one of the better known hotels in Mayfair or Belgravia. As we love London, we decided to book a few extra nights at the Corinthia so we could go back to some of our favorite restaurants and shops, see some old friends and just enjoy the city.

SSO and I arrived at the Corinthia around 11am after a long trans Atlantic flight. The doorman were an impressive group with their bowler hats and black tails (just like Cliveden). They knew we had requested early check-in (the driver had called ahead with our ETA) so they directly escorted us to the reception. Our room wasn’t quite yet ready, so they offered us the complimentary choice of going to their Spa to relax or have coffee in their Crystal Moon Lounge. We opted for coffee. As we entered the lounge the sight of a massive Baccarat chandelier was spectacular and, in the background, a pianist playing beautiful melodies on a Steinway grand piano. Starched white linens, hand painted bone china, Baccarat crystal glasses and fresh flowers abound. Apart from this wonderful surrounding, the staff could not be more attentive. The bespoke collection of coffee was of course on-par. A highly memorable way to start the trip and, as our children would say, very Karenable.

Beyond the Crystal Moon Lounge, I noticed that there was an outdoor Garden Lounge. It was an exclusive outdoor space with a partial glass roof at one end and tables with large umbrellas and heaters at the other. There was even a humidor with an extensive cigar menu. It was open from 7am to 1am and offered everything from coffee, food to ‘night caps’. This was already turning into a great new discovery.

It wasn’t long before they came to take us to our room. The bags of course preceded us and were already placed in the room’s walk-in closet. The room was spectacular, large by normal London hotel standards at nearly 500 square feet. There was a small foyer as you entered with the Bathroom on the right and Bedroom with sitting area to the left. A large walk in closet sat at the end of the foyer.

The marble bathroom with under-floor heating felt great. It had a separate WC (bonus points on the Karenable ranking), an extra-long & wide bath tub overlooking the Garden Lounge below with a built-in Sony TV above the taps & the English ‘telephone’ style shower head, plus a separate shower with the world’s best rain-shower head. The double sinks had vast marble countertops to the left and right with drawers underneath for your personal things, finally plentiful ESPA toiletries and a pile of thick Egyptian towels to dry all that jet lag off.

The bedroom was thoughtfully laid out and very tastefully furnished. The king bed had a sumptuous HYPNOS mattress, there were nightside tables on each side, bookshelves, a circular desk/table with fresh-cut flowers and comfortable side chairs, an armchair in front of a non-working fireplace with another coffee table and plate of fruit & homemade biscuits to the side. The Nespresso machine on the bar came with a generous selection of pods and had a minibar refrigerator underneath. WIFI was complimentary and thoughtfully, there were both UK and US electrical plugs.
We showered and headed out to meet a friend of SSO’s who originally got him involved in writing for EVO Magazine many years ago. Corinthia’s central location was perfect, easy walking distance to St James & Mayfair, several great restaurants & bars very nearby, with key tourist sites right around the corner. After lunch, we met up with a former colleague of mine at a classic London bar near Trafalgar Square. It was great catching up with friends you have not seen in a while.

Over the 4 days, we ate our way through many of our favorite London restaurants:
1. Yauatcha Soho, it is more contemporary Chinese dining with expertly-crafted dim-sum
2. San Carlo Cicchetti: think Italian tapas (small seasonal small dishes)
3. Cambio de Tercio in Chelsea: modern & innovative Spanish cuisine
4. Le Boudon Blanc in the heart of Mayfair: Traditional French dishes in a cozy brasserie
5. The Mont Street Deli: great breakfast spot in one of my favorite shopping areas
6. Roka on Charlotte St: Contemporary Sushi and Japanese dishes
7. Princi Soho: Where we always go for pizza in London

For me, no trip to London would be complete without spending a bit of time on Bond Street. Almost all of my favorite stores can be found in just a few blocks: Hermes, Lora Piani, Asprey, Breguet, Smythson, Ludwig Reiter, Bottega Veneta, & Issey Miyake. Sadly, the Donna Karan boutique that was a favorite for 10 years closed with Donna’s departure from the fashion world. As a shopper, I am very picky and tend to buy classics that remain part of my wardrobe for years. My favorite cashmere & silk black sweater set that I bought at Hermes in Hong Kong over a decade ago is still worn regularly. The Bottega Veneta Cabat bag I bought in Seoul, Korea back in 2001 has been back to the factory in Italy a few times for reconditioning. It is now so softly stunning from wear that I have gotten compliments from total strangers on the street. Hermes scarves are great as you can wear them as tops in the summer (which makes for a great road trip wardrobe as they take next to no space in the one duffle bag I am allowed to take). Issey Miyake pleats are every traveler’s friend as they don’t wrinkle, and you just roll them up and squeeze them into your bag, plus they look sensational, dressed up or casual with a T-shirt. Shopping with SSO is normally quite efficient and he has a pretty good sense of fashion. When picking things out, either get a quick ‘nope’ or “let me see it on” and then it is either a thumps up or down on the spot.

The McLaren Ball was simply spectacular despite what turned out to be a nearly 2-hour drive to the McLaren Technology Center from central London in heavy pre-Christmas traffic. The historic McLaren F1 cars lining the entrance way set the stage for the evening.  Champagne was plentiful, the setting truly unique (and a petrolheads dream) and the food was quite good for one of these types of events. The introduction of the Senna was the highlight of the night. The last Senna to be built, number 500, was auctioned off to benefit the Senna Foundation. It went for £2millon after several rounds of highly competitive bidding!

The trip was such a great time that we immediately asked McLaren to reserve our places for the 2018 McLaren Ball. Our flights are already booked, and I am counting down the months.

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June 2018

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