TRAVEL: A luxury stay in the heart of London at one of the capital's finest and grandest hotels
First impressions are everything and as soon as you step into the foyer of London's Corinthia Hotel it clear that the place oozes class, elegance and sophistication.
My partner and I were in London for a weekend of luxury and fun and this grand five star hotel situated in Whitehall on the banks of the River Thames offered us just that.
The Corinthia occupies the wedge-shaped building which was formerly the Metropole Hotel.
During World War Two room 424 of The Metropole was home to an arm of British Intelligence - MI9.
Seventy years on and you could well imagine a certain James Bond making himself at The Corinthia, downing cocktails in the Bassoon bar while successfully whoo-ing some beautiful temptress.
After just a few seconds at the check-in desk it was clear that the staff would go out of their way to ensure we had a memorable weekend stay.
Stepping into our room - an Executive King - we were immediate hit with the wow factor.
The decor was modern and stylish and the room had everything we might need. King size bed, walk-in wardrobe, a large desk, chaise lounge, big-screen TV, mini bar and Nespresso machine.
But the Pièce de résistance was the marble bathroom, a true thing of luxurious wonder. Underfloor heating and a huge bathtub complete with built-in TV. There can't be many hotels in London that can boast one of those.
As well as the bath there was also a separate tropical rain shower.
And the views weren't bad either. From our sixth floor room we had a fantastic cityscape looking down the Thames and taking in St Paul's Cathedral, The Shard and the other gleaming skyscrapers of the City of London.
As awe-inspiring as The Corinthia is we hadn't gone down to London to spend the whole weeknd holed-up in the hotel.
Another fantastic thing about The Corinthia is its location - it makes for a great base for sightseeing, shopping, eating out and nights out.
The hotel is within a short walking distance of Westminster, The London Eye and Southbank, Trafalgar Square, and the Theatre District.
On our first night in London were booked in at the excellent L'Escargot restaurant in Soho and this was just a very pleasant 15 minute walk away from The Corinthia.
Breakfast at The Corinthia is served in one of the hotel's two restaurants - The Northall.
The huge opulent dining room is complete with mirrored panels and leather chairs.
Guests can choose from the a la carte breakfast menu or an extensive buffet.
The buffet offers a veritable feast of breakfast juices, fresh fruits, cereals, a wide selections of freshly baked breads and pastries, charcuterie and hot breakfast favourites including bacon, waffles, sausage, beans, scrambled eggs and black pudding.
At night The Northall showcases the best of British food - under the stewardship of culinary director Garry Hollihead.
For our evening dining we chose to eat in the hotel's other restaurant - Massimo.
The restaurant offers the best of Italian food in a dining room of Art Deco splendour.
Majestic columns rise from floor to ceiling in a room decked out in mahogany and marble.
It was a fantastic setting for a memorable three course meal during which we were treated like royalty by the restaurant staff.
Massimo's wine list is extensive to say the least but the restaurant's excellent sommelier was on hand to help us pair the right wine for each of our three courses.
Our selected dishes included Scallops with Fennel, Apple Salad and Pomegranate Dressing and Ischia-style Rabbit with Garlic and Chilli.
We couldn't fault any of the dishes which we chose and there can't be many Italian restaurants in the capital that are of this standard.
Even if you are not staying at the Corinthia during your trip to London a visit to Massimo Restaurant is well worth it for that touch of Italian elegance.
After a busy and tiring day and night spent shopping, sightseeing and eating fine food we spent the last morning of our weekend in London making the most of The Corinthia's excellent spa facilities.
The Espa Life Spa extends over four floors and offers seven treatment rooms, a private spa suite, nail studio, indoor swimming pool, vitality pool, amphitheatre sauna, ice fountain, marble heated loungers and private sleep pods.
A wide range of treatments are available and we spent a luxurious couple of hours relaxing in the sauna, steam room and pools.
It was the perfect end to a fabulous stay at this magnificent hotel.
And don't just take my word for it - my views are echoed by thousands of other guests who have had the pleasure of staying at The Corinthia.
That is why the hotel is currently ranked as the 16th best hotel in London on TripAdvisor. High praise indeed.
So if you are planning that extra special break in London and want to stay in luxurious surroundings in the heart of this great city then you really need look no further than The Corinitha.
For more details visit http://www.corinthia.com/en/hotels/london