Corinthia Hotel London

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Corinthia Hotel London
Metropole Hotel, Northumberland Avenue, London.jpg
The hotel, c. 1900
Hotel chain Corinthia Hotels
General information
Location London, England
Address Whitehall Place
Opening 1885, restored 2011
Management CHI Hotels & Resorts
Other information
Number of rooms 294
Number of suites 47
Number of restaurants 3

The Corinthia Hotel London, at the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall Place in London, is a luxury hotel and former British Government building, located on a triangular site between Trafalgar Square and the Thames Embankment.

Originally built as the Metropole Hotel, its location close to the Palace of Westminster and government offices in Whitehall meant it was commandeered in both world wars. After the Second World War, it was purchased by the Ministry of Defence and used as government offices until it was declared surplus to requirements and sold by Crown Estates in 2007. It was then restored as a hotel and renamed the Corinthia Hotel London, a combination hotel and residential building.

Metropole Hotel[edit]

Commissioned by the Gordon Hotels company, construction was started in 1883.[1] The hotel opened in 1885, with an 88-page brochure which claimed:[2]

The hotel was the base for the Aero Club and the Alpine Club, and acted as the gathering point for competitors in the first London to Brighton run in 1896.[3] The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII entertained guests at the hotel on various occasions,[4] having a reserved box in the ballroom and using the Royal Suite, thought to have been the first floor rooms with bowfronted windows fronting Whitehall Place.[2]

World War I[edit]

The hotel was requisitioned in the run-up to World War I to provide accommodation for government staff, together with the other hotels and buildings in Northumberland Avenue, including the Constitutional Club and the offices of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge.[2]

Inter-war years[edit]

Reopening as a hotel after World War I, the "Midnight Follies" became a well-known cabaret fixture.[1][2]

In 1921 Bert Firman got a job as a violinist with the Midnight Follies Orchestra at the hotel. Shortly after beginning the job, the current band leader an alcoholic American saxophone player was indisposed, and Firman was offered the job. Only sixteen, he would thereafter claim to have been the youngest bandleader in the world.[4] After Firman left residence in 1924, other band leaders that played the hotel in the inter-war years included Mantovani.

On January 4, 1936 the England Rugby Union team thanks to three try tries by Russian Prince Alexander Obolensky, beat the touring New Zealand All Blacks 13-0, the first time England had beaten New Zealand. Aided by Pathé News footage of the game, Obolensky's name entered into legend, since the first try, beating several All Blacks in a run of three-quarters of the length of the field, was widely regarded as the greatest try of the time, and one of the greatest tries ever scored by England.[5] The England team retired that night to the Metropole, where they found that the opposing New Zealand team also happened to be staying.[6]

When the government redeveloped buildings at Whitehall Gardens in mid-1936, they leased the entire hotel for £300,000pa,[2] to provide alternate office accommodation initially for the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Transport,[7] and later for the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Defence.[8]

World War II[edit]

About to hand back the building, the government extended the lease by again requisitioning the building in the build-up to World War II. Again a home for various departments, room 424 became the first home for MI9 and its sub-division the Special Operations Executive,[9] and later the holding point for one of the model planning beaches for Operation Overlord.[10]

Metropole building[edit]

Purchased from Gordon Hotels after World War II, it was transferred to the Crown Estates portfolio. Controlled by the Ministry of Defence, who used it as an overflow building to its main Whitehall complex, by 1951 the Air Ministry was again a major occupant. From the mid-60s until 1992 it housed the bulk of the Defence Intelligence Staff, the remainder of the analysts and the DIS central staff being sited in the MoD Main Building. In the James Bond comic strip in the Daily Express the artist Yaroslav Horak quite often depicted the Metropole Building as MI6 HQ. Subsequently, the MoD used the building during various refurbishments, when the mirrored ballroom provided the setting for Press Conferences and other major events.[2] In a nod to its past, the official announcement of the James Bond movie Skyfall was made at a press conference held at the Corinthia Hotel on 3 November 2011.[11]

Having stood unoccupied since 2004, in 2007 the Metropole Building and the adjoining 10 Whitehall Place were acquired for a sum of £130M by a consortium owned equally by Malta's IHI plc and two of its principal shareholders, the Libyan Foreign Investment Company and Nakheel Hotels of Dubai.[8][12] In September 2008 City of Westminster council approved development of the two buildings as a hotel and residential complex.[13]

The building reopened in 2011 managed by CHI Hotels & Resorts. 10 Whitehall Place has been converted to 12 residences, and a spa run by Espa.[14]

ESPA Life[edit]

ESPA Life at Corinthia is a combination of health, fitness and beauty facilities. Hairdresser Daniel Galvin has a hair salon at the hotel.

Artist in residence[edit]

Began in 2011, Artist in Residence is a performance usually lasting one hour that takes place on several dates. Since it began the hotel has invited individual writers, theatre companies and filmmakers to respond by application. The performer is normally an artist winning a national competition. The opera Found and Lost, by artist-in-residence Emily Hall, was performed in the hotel in January and February 2016.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Elaine Denby. Grand Hotels. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Metropole Building". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  3. ^ "Just the weather for a seaside trip". The Times/Beaulieu. 1996-11-02. Archived from the original on August 30, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  4. ^ a b Guy Rowland. "Bert Firman". John Wright. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  5. ^ Green Umbrella Productions: 101 Greatest English Tries. DVD, Release Date: 8 Nov 2004.
  6. ^ Gallagher, Brendan (2006-11-02). "The day a Russian prince in an England shirt beat the All Blacks". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  7. ^ Susan Foreman. From palace to power. Google. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ a b David Lindsay (2009-04-28). "IHI consortium purchases London hotel for €174m". Malta Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  9. ^ "'Pat Line' – An Escape & Evasion Line in France in World War II". Christopher Long. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  10. ^ "Mulberry Harbours". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  11. ^ "James Bond 'Skyfall' Press Conference". Digital Spy. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "IHI on track with flagship London luxury hotel and residences project". INI plc. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  13. ^ "Planning Application Ref: 09/05406/FULL". City of Westminster council. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  14. ^ Walsh, Dominic (2009-04-29). "Metropole Hotel set for £135m luxury revamp". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′24″N 0°07′27″W / 51.5066°N 0.1243°W / 51.5066; -0.1243