This year celebrating its 20th birthday, the 144-room COMO Metropolitan occupies a stellar spot on Old Park Lane in Mayfair, nestling among some of London's other top hotels, such as The Hilton and Four Seasons, and just down the road from The Dorchester. Next to Hyde Park and The Serpentine, rooms look down onto the greenery with great skyline vistas beyond. It's so central, between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner tube stations, it's a wonderful base for wandering around some of the most interesting parts of London.
This hotel was once so fashionable that people used to book rooms – and never even pick up the key – just to gain admittance to its hip Met Bar, frequented in the late 1990s by all the beautiful set, including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and the Gallagher brothers. As the years passed, however, the pendulum swung from wild hedonism to a focus on health and well-being, and the hotel's refurbishment in 2015 cemented the spa as its beating heart. The spa is run along the lines of the COMO group's signature property the COMO Shambhala in Bali, with six rooms, a steam-room and a huge array of Asia-inspired treatments. I tried an hour's shiatsu, and sleepwalked through the rest of the day. The following day, I did a vigorous workout in the well-equipped gym, and got the blood flowing again.
The aim is for guests to leave feeling better than when they arrive, so the generously-sized rooms have been purposely designed to help promote an "uncluttered mind". Accordingly, they have clean minimalist lines, calming neutral colours, no loud artwork, fast free Wi-Fi and international plugs so there's not even the stress of working out how to power your laptop. A single surprisingly easy-to-operate console controls everything else from TVs to curtains, blinds, aircon and phones. There's even a handy cupboard for a suitcase with a wooden shutter to pull down to hide the mess, while there's a yoga mat in the room as well as dedicated yoga and meditation channels on the TV. Big windows offer fabulous views over Green Park.
Health is a theme carried throughout the hotel, with breakfast in the glass-ceilinged White Room including healthy options like an egg white omelette with vegetables, and a full fresh juice menu. My personal favourite was 'Corporate Social Responsibility' – a mix of watercress, spinach, mint, rhubarb jam, passionfruit and apple. "WTF?" The waiter didn't miss a beat. "If you feel good, you're more likely to do good in the world," he replied. I'll swallow that. There's also a Nobu restaurant, the acclaimed brand serving Japanese-Peruvian cuisine for lunch and dinners in a stripped-back restaurant space filled with white orchids, stained wood and natural stone. Specialities include a delicate black cod with miso and a melt-in-your-mouth snow crab in creamy, spicy sauce, and it also has a separate sushi bar.
The hotel is a short walk to the shopping meccas of Oxford, Bond and Regent Streets with Marble Arch and Savile Row nearby. You also pass by the US Embassy, the Roosevelt Memorial and pretty Berkeley Square on the way to the restaurants and bars of Soho and the theatre district of Shaftesbury Avenue.
If I could live in a hotel in London, this would be it – smart, modern and stylish without being over-the-top – with a fabulous spa and a great gym. They actually also have 19 long-stay serviced apartments on the property. One can dream.
Sitting on the corner seat next to the huge window looking down over the red double-decker London buses and traditional black cabs trundling by the greenery of Hyde Park.
Glancing out of one of the side windows and seeing a (not very attractive) naked man in his room at a hotel nearby – until I realised how quickly the remote-controlled electric blinds could be wound down.
Sue Williams stayed courtesy of COMO Hotels and Resorts.