Sleek style in Belgravia
28 Rooms / 13 Suites
It’s hard to imagine that the sleek, contemporary COMO The Halkin, London was a gas station when owner Christina Ong first laid eyes on it. The pumps situated where the reception desk now stands. Everything except the Georgian façade was gutted and replaced with five floors of premium Italian interior design.
Opened in 1991, The Halkin was the first property in the COMO Hotels and Resorts portfolio, and a game-changer on the London scene, since it was the first luxury boutique hotel to open in the city. Each guest room cost in excess of $1 million to fit out — a significant sum of money, even by today’s standards.
While The Halkin shares the COMO ethos of “wellness in travel,” and the same on-point, unobtrusive service as its sister London hotel (The Metropolitan, Park Lane), its offering is a little more grown-up and discreet, with just 41 guest rooms and quiet, residential surroundings.
In the five-minute walk from Hyde Park Corner Underground Station to Halkin Street, the scene changes dramatically from buzzing city center to tranquil, residential bliss. The luxury hotel blends just as well into these surroundings, a one-way strip in the affluent Belgravia district that is home to embassies and grand white stucco houses.
Knightsbridge, Green Park and Buckingham Palace are all a short stroll away, with the rest of the city’s hot spots within easy reach — the Golden Keys concierges will happily assist with itineraries and bookings.
Even at full capacity, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is remarkably quiet. Curved corridors, lined with black corrugated wood paneling, both conceal the guest room doors and act as sound proofing. When you walk into your room, decorated in calming creams and wood, you know you will have a good night’s sleep.
All 41 rooms, including 13 suites, boast a sizable, marble-decked bathroom, with walk-in shower and/or tub. The Invigorate shampoo, conditioner and body lotion are COMO’s own Shambhala range, developed using premium-grade essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and geranium.
In the living area, there’s a large Samsung flat-screen TV offering on-demand movies, music and a yoga channel (you’ll find the mats rolled up in the closet). High-speed complimentary Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth media hub with USB and HDMI connectors enable you to link up your devices, while a touch screen lets you control the lights, temperature and “do not disturb” sign from the comfort of your bed.
The entry-level City Rooms are perfect for short breaks or business trips. The larger, 484-square-foot Halkin Rooms mix cool, creamy interiors with walls of pommele sapele — a beautifully detailed reddish wood that adds warmth to the space.
The fifth-floor Belgravia Suites are particularly charming, with a ship-like, barrel-vaulted ceiling; a spacious lounge area and sofa; and plenty of natural light. At the top of the scale are the COMO Suites, two of which have a balcony, which is a nice spot to enjoy breakfast.
Upon arrival, you are welcomed with a refreshing, hot towel scented with COMO’s signature Invigorate. You’re also invited to enjoy a complimentary drink of choice in the bar or in the room.
The Halkin rolls out the red carpet service for its junior guests, too. Children are welcomed with gifts such as books, teddy bears, mini bathrobes and slippers. Bottle heaters and cots are provided for families with babies, complimentary menus are available for children under 12, and six interconnecting rooms help keep everyone together.
An intimate, lower-ground-floor fitness center, with treadmills, exercise bikes and the like, has the rare addition of windows looking out to gardens. Holistic treatments and massages can be served up in the privacy of your room, or five minutes away at the Shambhala Urban Escape Spa over at The Metropolitan.
You also can access the Grade II listed Belgrave Square gardens, the charming, 4.9-acre private green space with tennis court at the end of the road.
A stay wouldn’t be complete without a meal at The Halkin’s fantastic Ametsa with Arzak Instruction restaurant. The eye-catching ceiling is adorned with 7,000 glass vials filled with various spices (representing the land), in a pattern designed to emulate the waves of the sea, beside which heralded sister restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, is located.
The cuisine may be Basque, but the ingredients are locally sourced, seasonal and, where possible, organic, with an ever-changing menu of punchy, playful dishes to match.
London has a wealth of afternoon tea spots, but at this city center hotel, it’s quite different from the traditional scone and clotted cream affair. At The Halkin, you’re served various Spanish tapas, created by the Ametsa chefs, such as croquettes, Iberico ham and piquante peppers, sweet churros and sparkling cava. It’s also teamed up with London gin distillery Sipsmith to create a selection of Spanish-inspired cocktails to complement the tea.