Winner: One of Resource’s top 12 London Hotels
Park Life // The Metropolitan
G. Murphy, one of our guest reviewers, has a memorable night at The Metropolitan – and not just because a marriage proposal resulted in a yes.
As a going-out-on-the-town day of the week, Friday is a really stupid choice. After five days of deadlines, client meetings and skipping lunch hours, the last thing I want to do on a Friday night is slip into my going-out gear and party like I’m 24 all over again. Fridays are for winding down, switching off the private and work phones, logging off my email and Twitter accounts, and settling down on the sofa with my missus so that we can actually, you know, spend some time talking to each other. There have even been times, dare I say it, that I’m so shattered that even one of those M&S meal deals seems like a fantastic idea – you know, you do! The one where you pay a tenner for a load of food AND a bottle of wine (if only it was a bottle of wine each). The routine goes something like this: slip into something more comfortable, ping goes the microwave, and then maintain the horizontal position for a few hours in front of car-crash television.
However, there was no prompting needed to ditch the usual stay-at-home plans when offered the chance to review the world-renowned Metropolitan Hotel on Hyde Park Corner. Part of the COMO Hotels and Resorts family, owned by Christina Ong, the Metropolitan was once the coolest of the Park Lane hotels – now, it’s crown is being eyed by the Dorchester group’s new kid on the block, 45 Park Lane. Like any stylish thing with a reputation, it’s seen its competition coming and even its Met Bar has had a facelift to make sure it remains fresh and on-trend. For those wanting more than liquid refreshments, on the first floor resides the habitually cool Nobu with its lauded Japanese dishes and its hard-to-come-by tables. I’ve never been through its hallowed doors before, but I was already very aware of the reputation that precedes it: the parties, the celebrities trotting in and out, the hardcore door staff wielding clipboards.
I wasn’t sure what I’d find as I checked in, feeling frazzled after a hard day and also a little stressed: I’d decided that I’d make the most of the five-star environs and propose to my partner tonight. I was feeling nervous and I was expecting velvet ropes and to be looked up and down before I’d even walked through the doors, so I was surprised to be greeted so warmly by the two friendly doormen, one of whom carried in my bag for me. After a speedy check-in, I made like a celebrity and headed straight to the lounge area to await my partner’s arrival with a stiff drink. My stress seemed immediately to melt away as I entered the sleek and über-cool – yet also warm and inviting – lounge. Sunlight was flooding through the sandblasted glass windows, casting a relaxing and uplifting glow over the whole room. Bustling Park Lane seemed suddenly a million miles away; especially after the perfectly mixed vodka and Coke (my guilty pleasure – please don’t judge me!) was promptly brought over. Softly curved loungers were carefully spaced around, and although several guests were also enjoying a drink, the volume was only that of a low hum – thanks to the acoustics being dampened by the luxuriously deep carpet.
After I downed my drink, I decided to head to our room, rather than wait nervously for my wife-to-be (hopefully!) to arrive. So I headed up to our room to suss out the perfect spot from which to fall to my knee. Be sure to request a room overlooking Hyde Park – the views truly are stunning across this, one of the finest urban parks in the world. Whether you’re here to work or relax, the room is perfectly equipped for all kinds of traveller. Seen as a ‘home from home’ by the hotel’s designers, The Metropolitan offers stylish visitors to the city a pad in the heart of the city, just a short walk from some of London’s finest restaurants, theatres and shops.
There are few pointers to the hotel’s 14 years in the trade – positively ancient for a design hotel of this standing. Combining contemporary cool with a homely feel, the only design accents slightly out of sync were the blonde wood pieces of furniture (apparently the furniture has not changed since the place opened – yes, a nod to their craftsmanship, but perhaps it’s time for an overhaul?). But the plum, cream and beige accents of the soft furnishings still work well and, overall, a timeless sophistication exudes.
All the rooms are replete with every technological innovation: a Bose iPod docking system, an interactive Samsung plasma TV with movies on demand, broadband and complimentary wifi (hurrah!) and UK and US modem points. For those wanting to get in touch with their inner chi, there are yoga mats provided so you can downward dog whilst watching the Shambhala yoga channel on TV.
The bathrooms have recently been revamped – the marble and limestone surfaces feel beautifully luxurious and are worthy of the hotel’s five-star status. The products are the hotel group’s own Como Shambhala range, with revitalising eucalyptus and cooling peppermint, all of which went promptly into our wash-bags.
The absolute highlight of the stay (oh, besides proposing to my partner! She said yes, by the way) was the wonderful night’s sleep we had in the most comfortable bed we’ve ever slept in. The quietness of the room, despite being in the heart of this throbbing metropolis, and the luxurious Italian Egyptian cotton sheets were a contributing factor. We awoke feeling refreshed and energised, ready for a hearty breakfast.
We headed down to the White Room, which was bright and airy, and ordered the full English breakfasts. An all-too-common complaint of mine is that so many decent hotels can’t get their breakfast offering right – not so here. All components were excellently put together, and as with all aspects of our stay, the Armani-clad staff were wonderful – just the right mix of friendly and professional. Back to breakfast and the bacon and Cumberland sausages were truly delicious, and undoubtedly organically sourced, and the eggs were poached to perfection. It’s not hard to get right, but it so rarely is.
So, we checked out of The Metropolitan engaged to be wed. It’s a great hotel, and despite its years, still one of London’s coolest. What was lovely to see, as we milled around the lobby, was that many of its guests had grown old gracefully with the brand – super-stylish 30- and 40-somethings who know and trust it for what it is – a luxury hotel offering excellent service. It may look like a glass-clad minimalist box from the outside, but on the inside its warm, welcoming and boasting some of the finest hospitality staff in the city.
Metropolitan London, Old Park Lane, London, W1K 1LB
Tel: 020 7447 1000