"If I wanted to impress someone I would definitely bring them here..."Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
The Corinthia Hotel is a brand new five star hotel set along the relatively quiet Northumberland Avenue connecting Embankment with Trafalgar Square. The frontage doesn’t look very much but once you step through the doors you enter a different world of tasteful, calm sophistication and luxury.
We were stopped in our tracks by an imposing modern chandelier and the scent of a whole table of purple and pink stocks in a sea of small vases. To our left was a side area with an interesting spiral staircase containing a florist (yet more flowers and scent) of the most artful variety and a discrete Harrods concession. On the other side there is a vast British artwork containing lots of butterflies and you can just about see through to the amazing leaf patterns (apparently impressions taken from trees on the avenue outside) on the bronzed lift doors.
A few steps up brought us into one of the most beautiful lounges we have ever seen – all subtle creams, warm browns and opulent space. And above this area is an even more impressive chandelier which looks likes a huge crystal dandelion exploding from the ceiling. (Apparently, there’s over £1m of Baccarat crystal in there – and you can spot the artist’s signature red crystal in there giving it the name “the heart of the moon”). Our eyes were torn between a table bearing a substantial selection of spirits on the left and a stunning outside area with an open fireplace on the right. I think if I were to enter heaven, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if it looked a little like this.
Anyway, we stood there wondering how to get to the Bassoon Bar – no staff came up to greet us and there were no signs. We worked up the courage to ask one of the quietly efficient staff the way and with complete professionalism and a welcoming smile he escorted us round the corner to the entrance.
Now I was a bit apprehensive. It’s a musically themed bar and I was worried that it might be a high brow and stuffy with classical music. Not a bit of it – there was a reggae version of Tainted Love playing as we entered (later on there was some gentle South American guitar music and later on some soft soul songs). Whereas the main lounge area was pretty quiet, the Bassoon Bar was buzzing. There were a few groups and couples of business people, pairs of elegant women chatting and young smartly-dressed office workers. And, surprisingly for a West End hotel, no tourists. The lights were low and you could just about work out where the piano ended and the fantastic shiny dark wood bar began.
The art deco furnishings – again on a warm brown and beige theme – with nods towards copper and chocolate leather could be considered a little over the top but my colleague thought it was stunning. It was an interesting fusion of New York and French flavours. I liked that the paintings were in a more contemporary West Indian theme with bright colours. Somehow the combination worked well. The staff were really welcoming and seemed genuinely pleased to tell us about the cocktails, to serve and to ensure that we enjoyed our time in their beautiful domain. Even those with a French accent!
We tarried a while over the cocktail menu which was extensive and contained inhouse sodas and designer chocolate (and also, we are sorry to admit being so wrapped up in the décor – admiring the tiny vase of four perfect roses and the tea light) – after all, most drinks were priced at a rather hefty £15 or so.
The waiter didn’t bat an eyelid when we asked for some water to quench our thirst while we waded through all the options – and reappeared with a crystal carafe shortly afterwards as well as a bijou tiered holder bearing four dishes of upmarket nibbles (chilli nuts, mixed nuts, green and black olives) and another dish for the stones, tiny napkins and vinyl inspired drinks mats. So thoughtful. The attention to detail here is astonishing.
We waited a while for our drinks to arrive but it was so worth the wait. My colleague’s Pimms was presented in a cocktail glass with a long stem but a glass handle on the bowl. It was a tiny triumph of fruit sculpture – there were pieces of apple arranged to look like a palm frond, a snakelike sliver of peeled cucumber and a bustle of raspberries and blackberries. It was so pretty that she even took a photo on her camera – despite me telling her not to do so (“What will people think?” Actually, no one batted an eyelid). And it tasted lovely too.
Remembering last year’s holiday, I had ordered a St Lucia Storm. Normally, my standard test of a cocktail bar is to order a mojito – but the themed menu only offered a Victorian Mojito made with gin. I was glad for my choice. Again, the presentation was astonishing. It arrived in a small pewter tankard with almost a bush of fresh mint sprouting from the top, supported by half a lime. Placed delicately across the rim was a piece of genuine sugar cane (I was transported back to the Caribbean instantly). Again, the taste was incredible.
If I wanted to impress someone I would definitely bring them here – perhaps to relax after a business meeting (there are lots of law offices near here), or to start a smart evening out with the girls and it would even be a perfect place for an important date – especially if you were going to the fabulous looking Massimo restaurant next door.
KimT reviewed Bassoon on Mon 10 Oct 2011