In less time than it takes to make a proper Daenerys Targaryen costume, we’d hopped a plane to London this Halloween, to take in a spectacle of a much more spine tingling sort: The Rugby World Cup. Of course, we’d never do anything quite so obvious as purchase tickets and head for Twickenham. So we booked into the glamorous Corinthia Hotel, located just blocks from Trafalgar Square – which was where the city would be throwing a massive party for its ticketless citizenry.
It was Australia vs. New Zealand – so other than Brisbane or Christchurch, London seemed the most appropriate location for the final. After all, it was a Commonwealth match, if ever.
And considering the British obsession with sport – as well as order – everyone played their part perfectly. Indeed, a rather serious looking cadre of police officers were lined up along a partially roadblocked Northumberland Avenue, and a vast sea of fandom formed around the Admiral Nelson column in the square…spreading out into Covent Garden (where we also had a bemusing encounter with the London doppelganger of Keith McNally’s Balthazar).
But the best scene played out in the Corinthia’s swish Northall Bar, where the usual clientele of expensively and fashionably clad internationals found themselves suddenly and amiably rubbing up against the adrenalized and rugby-shirted fans who spilled into the bar after the match. Of course, they were fans of a particular sort – those for whom an $18 cocktail was a perfectly reasonable purchase.
As we know, New Zealand won, 34-17. And the back slapping, enthusiastically drinking fans at Northall suggested significant satisfaction with that outcome. Later in the evening, bartender Juri slid a glass of grappa across the bar. “You know, if you drink this, you’ll become hungry, and you can eat again.”
Who knew? But we would, instead, be pushing on through on the strength of adrenaline, new rugby friends and expensive liquid fuel.
Six Very Good Reasons We Chose The Corinthia
THE JET SET
Amidst the assorted Antipodean dialects on hand for the World Cup, one could hear various chatterings in Russian, sundry dialects of Italian, variations of Arabic – as well as encountering no small number of people who looked like they were on their way to holiday in Gstaad. Best of all, most guests were decidedly “turned out,” even by day. Indeed, the Corinthia is genuinely a new-gen European dress up hotel. We rather liked that.
THE CELEB WATTAGE
Kate Moss, Jamie Hince. Angelina Jolie, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Cameron Diaz, Donald Sutherland, Cara Delevigne. We could go on.
AFTERNOON TEA IN THE LOBBY LOUNGE
The terribly sophisticated Lobby Lounge, which spills out onto a classy little courtyard, was as well dressed as the crowd. Under a rather spectacular Baccarat chandelier (it’s really, really big), a terribly stylish crowd assembled for a proper tea, sipped top shelf champers and chatted about EU politics and Lagerfeld’s latest, all to the clinking of exclusive William Edwards fine china. It was enough to civilize the most rough and tumble rugby supporter.
APERITIVO HOUR AT MASSIMO
The hotel’s dashingly urbane Italian restaurant is all grand grey and white striped columns, magnificent bubble chandeliers, gorgeous mosaic floors and dramatically racked wine bottles. Aperitivo hour is 5-7pm (N.B. – Italians don’t drink without eating), and our charismatic Sicilian bartender, Gaetano, deftly dished the Italophile tipples and the typically warm Siciliano hospitality.
CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH AT THE NORTHALL
Porthilly rock oysters, Severn & Wye smoked salmon – and we sampled a delectable dish with the decidedly dramatic titular explication, Fried Goosnargh Duck Egg, Cep and Madeira Purée, Charred Sweet Corn and Onion Textures. Top that! For a bit of extra dosh, there’s free flowing Laurent-Perrier (oh, why not?). A truly sophisticated bit of hair of the dog, to counter the previous night’s partying – all in one of the most dramatically designed restaurant spaces in the Capital.
The hotel’s wellness center is earnestly considered as one of the top spas in the London. Cellular Hydration Facials, Ayurvedic Ritual Massage, and something called an Active Abdominal Detox – which we might have recommended for the hard-partying rugby set if we’d thought of it. There’s also Gentlemen’s Topiary and a selection of Superactive Juices. Superactive!
All soothingly colored sophistication, impeccable style and high tech everything. The bathrooms are, well…beyond.