By Oliver Smith
In London’s luxury hotel heartland, at the southern end of Park Lane. The dual carriageway is hardly enticing, but the hotel is well positioned for day trips to Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, and evenings out in Soho.
Modern and minimalist. Since opening in 1997, in the shadow of some of London’s most prestigious hotels, the Metropolitan has snagged young, hip, design-conscious types, in search of pared-back contemporary style, over traditional folk who might gravitate towards grand dames like the Dorchester and Grosvenor House. The building’s bulky, breeze block façade is hard to love, but things improve once you step through the revolving doors (or skulk through a side door, like we did on our visit, as the usual entrance was being repaired). The mad bustle of traffic-clogged Park Lane was replaced by a sleek, blindingly white and understated lobby, staffed by three bewitching and impeccably dressed young ladies. Almost, I imagine, like checking into a sanatorium. Asian influences can be found in the bedrooms (there are orchids, Zen-inspired furnishings; yoga mats, and a rock garden in the penthouse suite), in the Shambala Spa – which offers Shiatsu and Thai massage – and in Nobu, the hotel’s Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant.
Cheerful and courteous downstairs; sensational in Nobu, the hotel’s main restaurant; but a little too chatty in the spa (though my massage was lovely).
Some will champion the simple, calming, clutter-free style – and I, for one, appreciated not having to remove the usual pyramid of unnecessary cushions from the bed – but the preponderance of whites, creams and bleached pine, and general lack of artwork, was a shade uninspiring. The 144 rooms are, however, wonderfully bright, with vast windows, and very spacious. Ours featured an enormous and inviting L-shaped sofa, which provided a perfect vantage point from which to enjoy its greatest asset – glorious views across the green expanse of Hyde Park and beyond to the domes of Harrods and Brompton Oratory. All feature big televisions, iPod docks, and tea and coffee making facilities. The big bathrooms are steeped in pale tones and feature products from the Shambala Spa.
Food & drink
The first floor is occupied by Nobu, the Michelin-starred restaurant co-founded by Robert De Niro. It may no longer be the hot ticket it was when it first opened (there are now 27 branches around the world and many more imitators), but, with its tightly packed tables, it still exudes a real buzz, and its renowned black cod with miso is no less delicious. Other highlights were the langoustine with red chilli shiso salsa and the tenderloin of beef with wasabi pepper sauce. It’s pricey – that cod is £42 a pop – but lives up to the hype. Finish with a cocktail or two in the seductive ground-floor Met Bar. Breakfast, taken in a rather bland room adjoining Nobu, was unremarkable.
Value for money
Double rooms from £239 per night, excluding breakfast. Rather rich, even for this part of London. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
One room has been modified.
Not particularly, although the hotel also offers a selection of serviced apartments down the road.