As we drive down a very pretty Park Lane by night, we pass the lit-up windows of all the grand dames – Grosvenor House, the Dorchester, the Park Lane Hotel… the vanguard of London’s luxury-hotel front line. When we catch sight of the London Hilton, we know we’ve almost reached our destination: the Metropolitan. This decade-old design hotel may not stand head and shoulders above the other bricks-and-mortar boltholes, but its sleek, pale modernist façade exudes an air of contemporary cool absent in the grander classics, ensuring it towers above its peers in the eyes of London’s fashion pack.
We ditch the car outside the hotel’s understated front entrance on a cul de sac, deriving satisfaction from being able to wedge our hybrid Honda in behind a huge Bentley on double yellows, safe in the knowledge that the kindly black-suited chap lurking by the revolving doors will swiftly magic it away to a car park, away from the evil grasp of London’s onniscient traffic wardens.
A brief encounter at reception and a key card is soon in our clutches, so we skip any dithering in the bright, if slightly corporate, lobby and head to our bunk-up for the weekend. We’ve booked one of the super-spacious suites overlooking Hyde Park – and here we discover the hotel’s x-factor. Wow: what a magnificent eyeful of one of the world’s greatest urban parks – green, green grounds as far as we can see. On our far left, we can peer into the Inn on the Park; to our right, the London Hilton, but apart from these peripheral glimpses, it’s pure unadulterated parkland. Who would believe we are only a trot from Hyde Park Corner, an ever-active landmark in one of the buzziest capitals on the planet?
A dimmer switch allows us to take the spotlight off the low-key neutral interior and its simple bleached pine furniture, and in doing so, we whack up the visual volume on the big-screen nocturnal London scene through the grandstand-scale floor-to-ceiling windows. Never has seeing so much traffic been so heart-warming – the bright lights are beautiful. The cherry on the cake is the glittering domed roof of Harrods in Knightsbridge poking out above the trees.
Now for the soundtrack to this filmic vista… Further evidence that all of the room’s audio-visual enhancements are fit for a complete control freak is apparent in the all-entertainment system that exists through the super-smart TV. A prod of a few buttons leads this music-loving Mrs Smith to a music library befitting a hi-tech professional radio studio. After a nostalgic burst of John Martyn’s ‘Solid Air’, I opt for Diana Krall’s ‘A Night in Paris’, and contemplate performing a private burlesque show for one of the guests at a neighbouring window. After a quick game of ‘Can the people in the other bedrooms see us?’ (a childish flashing of undergarments in sync with an up-and-downing of that intelligent lighting again), we execute a whirlwind powdering-of-noses in preparation for dinner in London’s premier see-and-be-seen eaterie, Nobu.
In the late Nineties, the Metropolitan hotel opened to a fanfare of press attention, and provided a steady supply of papped celebs falling through its doors in the wee small hours. Tonight is Sunday, and, without its usual quota of movers, shakers, models and footballers making eyes at one another over cheekily monikered cocktails, the red, modern decor is a shade more Virgin Atlantic airport lounge than legendary boutique hotel bar.
We pop next door to Windows on the World in the London Hilton and indulge in some more panorama guzzling: this hotel bar is legendary for its across-the-capital lookout. After our aperitif, as we traverse the few feet across the pavement back to the Met, I look up and realise, yup, you can definitely see into our suite. What a shame I didn’t pack more Agent Provocateur.
Nobu lives up to all the hype – in fact, even if your hopes are as high as Mount Fuji, the Japanese cuisine in this big-hitting restaurant will surpass every expectation. As we wolf superlative sushi, we can barely be bothered to chat with so much people-watching to be done. But the questions that beg for answers throughout our dinner are: ‘Are the rings on the two older Italian ladies sitting next to us worth more than our flat?’ ‘Is the pretty young thing checking her Blackberry the heiress we recognise from the social diary pages?’ and ‘How does chef Nobu Matsuhisa make blackened cod so darned delicious?’
We poke our noses back in the bar and it’s still fairly quiet, so we return to our vast suite, its minibar and music offerings, all enough to rival any hip hangout. Thanks to a few plum wines, we don’t last long – in fact we a scrawl of the breakfast order and we’re toast. It’s incredible how peaceful these bedrooms are, up above so many red double-decker buses and black cabs bustling below.
In the morning, we have a peek in the breakfast room and are relieved we’d ordered ours in bed. The windowless room is packed and every single person is in a suit, so it was much more romantic to leave things on a croissant-crumbs-on-the-pillow note. In fact, I’d have preferred to depart after a pummel in the hotel’s Asian-themed Como Shambhala Urban Escape spa. (Mmmm… I’ve heard about the signature Como Shambhala Massage developed at the Metropolitan’s award-winning sister hotel in the Caribbean, Parrot Cay. It may be a city stay, but London’s Metropolitan hotel takes its spa-loving guests into serious consideration.) But a girl can’t have everything her way. Much as all Mrs Smiths deserve to of course. So as we walk through those revolving doors to our waiting car, you can be sure my first topic of conversation will be a suggestion for our next trip – wouldn’t Parrot Cay be perfect?