The Halkin, London
I stayed here on the 29th of September when the globe had seemingly turned upside down. It was 30 degrees at 3.00pm on my uber-sexy, wooden-decked terrace. Where was I again? I was at The Halkin, in London's beauteous Belgravia, overlooking a quaint mews, a super stylish residential block, manicured gardens, quirky Victorian rooftops with mismatched chimneys, all set beneath a glorious St Tropez-blue sky. Now, London will not always offer up such weather, but inside the Halkin, now 20 years old, it feels positively halcyon.
There is something about this bijoux Belgravia hotel that allows you to feel completely at ease while maintaining an Armani allure. It possesses a distinctive calm that flows unencumbered throughout all the spaces from the airy lobby to the COMO suites. This 'calm' is a carefully orchestrated Christina Ong-inspired blend where slick, contemporary style, combines with a unique "COMO" culture. The award-winning concept, COMO Shambhala, is also on hand to heal at all COMO's properties. The net result of such a bespoke and luxuriously honed synthesis is described by discerning guests as an 'oasis' or 5 star 'sanctuary' in the heart of posh London.
The Halkin was purpose-built as a hotel, complementing its neighbours in impeccable style with its Georgian façade, weathered brick exterior, Portland stone arched windows and smooth entrance. With only 41 rooms and suites it does feel intimate, yet it offers a service to rival its nearby goliaths. Checking-in is a discreet and swift affair in a 'lobby' that feels more grand residential than 'internationally acclaimed hotel'.
A space-maximising concept was used here, known as the 'Expansion of Space', (please don't shoot the messenger) and is demonstrated by the soaring atrium ceiling along with an open-plan layout, including the bar and the celebrated Thai restaurant, Nahm; you are not overwhelmed here, you simply succumb.
I want to keep my COMO Suite - always...
The walk from the lift to the suite along a corridor of black undulating curves, made from black corrugated wood, with soft cream carpet underfoot, is nothing if not transporting. The discreet doors are nestled in there somewhere but a soft directional light guides you to your keyhole.
It was love at first feel for me, and not because I immediately dropped my jaw at some outstanding piece of furniture or swanky décor, it was because it felt right. It oozed chill-out with sensual, simple, stylish sophistication.
My 'bedroom' paid homage to its namesake; a separate boudoir designed for sleep, with double aspect windows, plenty of wardrobe space, dressing table, plus 'another' flat-screen placed at the perfect height for a 'movie in bed'. The beauty for me lay in its subtle dressing, using creamy soft tones, while the technology was ahead of its game. The king-size bed looked utterly scrumptious, plumped high in goose down from the pillows to the duvet and clothed in the finest of Egyptian cotton. It did not disappoint.
The bathroom was a compact haven in toffee and caramel-coloured marble, with a spacious walk-in-shower, a deep bathtub, twin-vanity units, mist free mirrors and bottles of those all coveted Como Shambhala potions.
The sitting room (bearing in mind that this feels like a well-proportioned apartment rather than a suite), had a melting vibe all of its own with the other large flat screen TV. These suites are located on the third and fourth floor and the living area benefits from a magical surplus of natural light that floods in from the expanse of conservatory-style windows. However, for the photophobic there are blinds to shut out daylight, altogether, at the flick of a switch. However, at night the room turns into an exceptionally snug and intimate affair: an impressive venue for private dining.
It is soothing on the eye in a palette of creamy white and wooden hues, and its minimalist feel, using high spec fittings and fabrics, makes exceptional use of the space. This uncluttered design is extremely luxurious for those who have to deal with too much 'stuff' in their home life, while the mini bars, tucked strategically into a Pomele Sapele veneered cabinet, are packed with a selection of the most exotic labels you have not yet heard of, and those you have.
But the pièce de résistance of my now 'personalised' suite was the private terrace. Suitably sized and discreet, with enchanting residential views, it was the perfect spot to celebrate this autumn's balmy Indian summer. Besides, the only sound was that of a distant bark from a dog. That is special. I called up a close friend to share this moment, along with some rather special champagne, followed by a delectable tasting menu of Thai specialities in Nahm downstairs. While we sipped our Alsace, chosen by the attentive sommelier, along with our impressive spread in the recently 'revamped-in-rouge' Nahm restaurant, we both agreed that The Halkin is a rare find. It really is a place where you can 'escape to the city'!
N.B Nahm will be taking bookings up until 15th December 2012 only, when it will close for refurbishment.