Imagine the scene a little over seven years ago, a bustling Ministry of Defence building with more than 600 offices, just a stone’s throw away from Whitehall.
Fast forward to today and still situated in the very heart of London, under the watchful eye of Nelson on his Trafalgar Square column, is a place of tranquil luxury.
The building has been transformed unrecognisably and now takes its place as the undisputed crown in the family-owned collection of hotels that is Corinthia, founded by the Pisani family of Malta in 1962.
The 294 -bed hotel is now hoping to tempt Yorkshire to the capital for a getaway in the lap of luxury.
You could easily lose yourself for the whole weekend exploring the delights of Corinthia London or use it as a base to spend time in the capital. And if you haven’t planned what you want to do, the concierge service will take away stress, booking tickets for shows and making any other reservations you need.
An innovative service, the Crafty Concierge, caters for youngsters, too. Inspired by an overheard conversation where some bored children complained of having to go to another museum, it promises the off-the-beaten-track tourist ideas through its Facebook page, means you can blend the interests of the parents and the children in a relaxing stay.
You can choose from a range of rooms, with a cityscape view or a Juliette balcony overlooking a landscaped inner courtyard, each with generously spaced living accommodation.
However, should you want to push the boat out a little, the five individually designed suites would provide you with a stay to remember
The River Suite is named for its stunning views over the River Thames, and also overlooks the London Eye and the South Bank.
However, there is still one more level of luxury we would be remiss not to write about here, and that is the range of Penthouses. Each Penthouse is built within the turrets of this magnificent building and each is breathtaking while individually designed along themes.
The Royal Penthouse is the king of kings, where you can stand on the roof terrace and take in the unique 180 degree panoramic view of London, including St Paul’s Cathedral which you can nearly reach out to touch.
But for most, Corinthia will afford the visitor to London a place to unwind, relax and pamper.
Its Espa Life purports to be the next generation of spa and you would be hard pushed to find fault with that.
It is spread over four floor and covers an enormous 3,300 square metres, but once again, you have no sense of the scale as its design it built around privacy and intimacy.
We entered along a wall of curved ripple-effect marble, immediately starting the process of allowing the stresses of the everyday to start to ebb away. There are 17 spa treatment pods, a heavenly spa lounge and a polished black marble pool , and amphitheatre sauna, and black mosaic steam room.
Not forgetting the sleep area with sleeping pods. Corinthia London has created a Sleep Retreat and has just unveiled a Power of Sleep project for May, working with sleep expert Dr Guy Meadows who will provide one to one consultations.
Having fully relaxed, it is time to dine. But first we sampled the cocktails in the Bassoon Cocktail lounge, where the pianist played at his grand piano that had been elongated to form the bar serving area.
Once again, each seating area was a pod, affording the utmost privacy, in an ambience that complemented the atmosphere of the whole hotel. The cocktail menu is challenging but the waitress is attentive and guides you to the best choices according to your taste.
We chose to dine in the Massimo restaurant, tempted by the menu of fish. But the Northall is home to Corinthia’s executive head chef Garry Hollihead, who has been in residence ever since the hotel opened its door in April 2011.
It is his restaurant and the menu is his creation, where he has been given free reign to indulge his passion for seasonal British food that ranges from Severn and Wye salmon gravalax, to pressed ham hock and pistachio for the starters. And takes in Herdwick lamb rump and roast belly of middle white pork for the mains, among other tantalising dishes.
So why would you choose Corinthia above any other hotel in London?
Corinthia London wants to offer a retreat rather than just a hotel stay. You know as soon as you are welcomed through the doors that you will be looked after as if you are being welcomed home.
You can indulge your entire stay without stepping foot outside of the hotel, but I feel you would miss out on what Corinthia really offers if you do that. For you need to appreciate the oasis of calm that exists in the centre of the world’s busiest capital city to really appreciate the quality of craftmanship of care once in the embrace of Corinthia.