Maureen Marriner stays at London's COMO Metropolitan.


In Mayfair, at the edge of Hyde Park corner. Aspley House, built in the 18th century and the home of Waterloo's Duke of Wellington, is across the road. (Its nickname was No. 1 London, as it marked the edge between the "country" and the Knightsbridge toll gates.) Today the roundabout is one of the busiest traffic hubs in London. The Como is virtually in Park Lane, its neighbours include the Intercontinental, the Hilton and the Dorchester.

Getting there: We landed at Heathrow and took the Tube directly to Hyde Park corner. Wrestling five bags of luggage even the short distance to the hotel, however, made me remember how useful is a black cab.


Check-in experience: Warm and smooth. Refreshing hand towels carrying the hotel's signature scent from its spa were a lovely touch. Our accommodation was not quite ready so while the luggage was disappeared we were brought teas of our choice and biscuits in the lounge.

Room: We were in the penthouse suite on the 10th floor. So big it has two entrances. The decor is calm neutrals with wood accents. Curtains and blinds for the suite-length windows are operated by a touch-screen on the phone, as they are in all the rooms. The screen also operates the air conditioning, the lights, calls housekeeping and, surprise, is a telephone.

Complimentary Wi-Fi: Yes.

Bed: Very large and firmly comfortable with big squishy pillows.

View: To die for. The star is Hyde Park - one of the greatest city parks in the world - with the London skyscape around and beyond. The traffic below is a hum, punctuated by occasional sirens that automatically switch on the "alert" button.

Bathroom: "Large" doesn't do it justice. A bath with separate shower hose is long enough to have an average-height bather at risk of sliding to the other end - where there is a television in the wall. Double vanity, with large, well-lit mirrors, one, scarily, magnified.

The shower has push-button controls for wand, monsoon or waterfall options. A separate toilet off the living room.

Toiletries: From the inhouse Shambhala Urban Escape spa, which is all about balancing mind, body and spirit. A distinctive, very spa scent.

Food and beverage: The in-house restaurant is Nobu. When the hotel opened in 1997, the restaurant was the first European venture for famed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The fusion of Japanese and South American cuisines has become his signature. Breakfast is in the atrium-ed White Room on the first floor, or in Nobu. All quiet, discreet efficiency.

Juice is accompanied by a shot of "healthfulness" from the spa (that spa gets in everywhere, including plug-ins in the corridors). There are 12 varying daily flavours. One had a hint of mint, some seeds and a lot of coconut water; another was banana, coconut milk and coconut water. A salad of mango, pawpaw, kiwifruit and blueberries was accompanied by a bowl of thick Greek yoghurt and a selection of honeys. So good it had to be bad. Sausages, crisp, meaty bacon and perfectly poached eggs. In the room, our fruit bowl was replaced daily. The ground-floor Met bar is big on cocktails.

Facilities: The spa; a 24-hour gym and a steam room; event spaces cater for meetings, launches - anything that wants the cachet of a "good" address.

What's so good about this place? The location gives access to some of the most exclusive shopping at one end of Park Lane - in Piccadilly and its surrounding small streets at the other end - to the frenetic Oxford St, where everyone seems to be spending as if there were no tomorrow. Wealth, a lot of it Middle Eastern, is conspicuous in Mayfair.

And the bad? Some may question the pervasive "healthful" scent.

Perfect for: A slice of another life.

In a nutshell: What's not to like?