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Luxury hotel suites at COMO The Halkin in Belgravia, London

Helping you find your chi in the heart of London, is the hotel that started it all for COMO Hotels & Resorts

Jun 17, 2017 | By Sanesh Balasingam
COMO The Halkin is the brainchild of Christina Ong, a successful Singaporean businesswoman

COMO The Halkin is the brainchild of Christina Ong, a successful Singaporean businesswoman

I have had the privilege of enjoying the hospitality and amenities provided by some of the finest hotels in the world. Travelling as much as I do, I sometimes feel like I overlook the beauty in the architecture or the hospitable staff who make my stay that much more enjoyable. With my most recent trip to London however, I was truly amazed by the service and accommodation options at COMO The Halkin. During my stay, I was able to enjoy one of the 41 rooms and suites available at the hotel and it is safe to say that I have found my new haven in London.

The Hotel

Sitting on the grounds of what was once a car park, COMO The Halkin is the brainchild of Christina Ong, a successful Singaporean businesswoman. Named, not after the famous lake in Italy but instead, thanks to the acronyms of herself and her daughter, Melissa Ong, the hotel has an interesting beginning. Gifted to her as a birthday present by her husband, Ong Beng Seng, in the 90s (The man has set the bar for us all, who think that diamonds and pearls will suffice!) the hotel was the start of what is now a wildly successful hotel chain. With her acute business sense and vision, COMO The Halkin is now one of 13 resorts and hotels by the COMO Group around the world. 

With its discreet yet centralised location at the heart of London, Belgravia to be exact, the hotel offers guests access to areas such as Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Sloan Street, Piccadilly Theatres and the restaurants at Mayfair. A perfect location, paired with luxurious interiors designed by Laboratorio Associati of Italy, COMO The Halkin is the epitome of luxury living. Apart from the luxurious interiors, which I will delve into in a bit, the hotel also houses a Michelin-starred restaurant which serves up a gastronomic feast for the senses. With such tasteful interiors, the hotel leaves no detail to chance. Impeccably dressed in Armani suits, the staff are trained to ensure that guests are well taken care of enjoy their stay even before they check-in.

The Interior

Don’t let the Georgian-Styled façade fool you for the weathered bricks, Portland stone and arched windows give way to a minimalist aesthetic that is peppered by the use of timber in the details. Step through the doors of the hotel and you will be greeted by a concept that is called “Expansion of Space”. In the lobby, the atrium’s ceiling is decorated with a mural ‘skyscape’ created by Italian painter Valentino Vago. The light and airy lobby is just a hint of what is in store for guests as they begin their stay. 

Split into six categories namely City Rooms, Garden Rooms, Halkin Rooms, Studio Suites, Belgravia Suites and COMO Suites, the rooms are individually designed and decorated, making each room unique in its own right. Walking towards my suite, I was struck by the black and corrugated wood panelling that line the curved corridor — a contrast to the light airy lobby, yet still elegant and refined. I was not able to view all the options available but if the Belgravia suite is any indication then the key to its success, at least in terms of design, is simplicity.

The Rooms

Being housed in one of the hotels nine Belgravia Suites I was treated to simplistic Italian elegance in all its contemporary glory. Opting for a colour scheme that featured pale cream fabrics and warm Pomelé Sapele veneers, the designers chose to keep things simple with a semi-partitioned layout. In the sitting area, which has lush Italian carpets, the uncluttered space was decorated by Eastern art and sculptures that made for an interesting break from the modern European style interiors. Guests can also choose to have views over the private garden or high ceilings with unique curved walls. An added bonus are the spacious private balconies that are equipped with tables and chairs, a perfect spot to enjoy some fresh air should the weather permit.

As most frequent traveller can attest, the highlight of any hotel room is in its ability to provide guests with comfort and COMO The Halkin does not skimp on that. After a long bout of travelling around Europe, I could not wait for a sojourn on the king-sized bed fitted with Egyptian cotton linen. Paired with fine goosedown duvets and pillows, I had to fight the temptation to let myself be enveloped in comfort before I had completed the tour of my suite.

Walking into the marble-tiled bathroom, I expected nothing less that the best and was happy to be proven right as I saw the COMO Shambala bathroom amenities, which are made exclusively for the COMO Hotels and Resorts. The anti-mist bathroom mirrors are a welcome as I didn’t have to fight condensation each time I stepped into the walk-in shower. With mood lighting available in the shower, it provides guests with several interesting options as they wash up after a long journey.

Guests staying at COMO The Halkin will also be able to enjoy Nespresso coffee machines, complimentary Wi-Fi access as well as over 80 free channels to choose from. While the wide selection of movies on demand and internet radio were welcome, what caught my attention were the yoga and meditation TV channels. I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised by how helpful they were. While there was no cathartic release, they certainly helped to unclutter my mind and regroup for the work I had ahead of me.

Those who know me may still be reeling from the fact that I managed to sit still for more than 10 seconds to practice some much-needed meditation. They may want to prepare themselves for a stay at COMO The Halkin has acquainted me with one thing that I have never quite enjoyed: Granola. Made fresh by the hotel and accompanied by a fine selection of teas, the granola and meditation session made me feel like I was ready to adopt a new, healthy lifestyle — as long as COMO The Halkin was willing to keep that delicious granola coming my way. It must be said that the ambience of the hotel may have had something to do with my urge to turn over a new leaf. From the scent in the lobby to the healthy snacks made readily available, they made a healthy lifestyle sound so stylish and effortless.

Dining

Guests can look forward to a restaurant and a bar at COMO The Halkin that offer unique experiences. The first is the Halkin Bar that can be used both as a meeting space in the day and a relaxing spot come nightfall where you can enjoy a carefully crafted martini. The bar boasts an inventive tapas menu that is available from Mondays to Saturdays.

For food lovers, I suggest making your way to Ametsa with Arzak Instruction. Having taken over the space that was once occupied by David Thompson’s Nahm, this One Michelin Star restaurant is one dining venue that many would love to try. Bringing the flavours and traditions that helped propel the Arzak name from San Sebastian to International acclaim, you need not have to travel further than London to enjoy a meal thought up by three-Michelin-star chef Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak.

The menu which saw traditional New Basque cuisine blend with ingredients farmed in Britain, that made for an interesting mix of Europe’s finest. By not shipping the ingredients from San Sebastian and sourcing locally instead, the restaurant supports COMO’s responsible business practices. The result was earthy flavours and techniques that are derived from the Spanish countryside albeit with a few twists. One example was that of the appetiser called Empanadilla de Langostino which was, in fact, a Prawn ‘Gyoza’. For the mains, the menu offered up Presca Ibérica Melocoton Mareado or  Iberian Pork ‘Presa’ and Clumsy Peach. There is no question that the dinging options at COMO The Halkin will leave you satisfied.

 
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