DISCREET. That’s the word that sums up the five-star Halkin by COMO.
Situated in Belgravia, which boasts plenty of chintzy and traditional hotels, this place is understatedly luxurious. There are no flags hanging from the Georgian facade, though they have strung pretty white lights on to some neatly manicured topiary outside. When I get into the lift for the first time, a Japanese man wearing a pinstriped Comme des Garçons felt suit gets out. The staff wear Armani. It’s that kind of place. Despite the slick interior design and marble floors, this is one of the warmest London hotels I’ve stayed at. The staff are friendly (and kind of Zen) but never obsequious. There are 41 rooms, ranging from king doubles to one or two-bedroom suites.
WINING AND DINING
“It took us ages to get the smell of curry out of the room,” says the maitre d’ at its restaurant, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction. This long space features a ceiling of test tubes filled with various spices (hence the mishap, when one smashed after installation). With a view to The Halkin’s private garden, it’s run by chef Elena Arzak and her three Michelin-starred chef father Juan Mari. On the dinner menu, their Basque-influenced cuisine includes à la carte mains such as sea bass with leek ash (£29). For more casual and affordable dining, eat tapas in the low-lit and relaxed Halkin Bar. I ate unself-consciously solo, and enjoyed the spider crab donostiarra (£6) and sardine and anchovy toasts (£5).
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Boutique all the way, though not flashy. This place is the cashmere jumper of hotels. Room rates can start from the surprisingly reasonable (in this part of town) £290, depending on the date and availability. Breakfast is less exotic than dinner, but their homemade granola was the best I’ve had, ditto for the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.
The doors to the rooms are set flat against the corridor, which looks rather Dr Who-esque. Mine – a king double – was rather neutral. Situated in the attic levels, it had coombed ceilings, with walls painted white and tub chairs covered in cream-coloured linen. The bathroom features a mausoleum’s worth of black and white marble, with a huge tub and vigorous shower.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
You’re just five minutes away from Hyde Park, where you can hire a Boris bike and cycle to the Serpentine, or just loop the loop and try not to run pedestrians over (there’s a speed limit of 5mph, so don’t get too devil may care). Just a 20-minute walk (leave the bike behind) and you’ll find yourself on Oxford Street. There are also loads of swanky restaurants in the near vicinity, like Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, but if they’re out of your price range and you’d like to spread your net wider, Hyde Park Corner underground station is nearby.
Although the Halkin has its own small gym, guests can also use the facilities at the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, which is nearby at its sister hotel, The Metropolitan. It boasts a gym and a spa where various treatments are offered. Rooms at the Halkin also feature the rather lovely COMO Shambhala products.
“Quiet, discreet; smiling, charming and helpful staff, elegance, comfort, perfect position in central London”; the list goes on and on.
• For more information and current rates, see www.comohotels.com/thehalkin