Metropolitan by Como, London, UK *** (UPDATED)

Q: What is it? A: Still a style conscious hotel. Still the staff are delivering proper service, but… it has begun to feel a little bit jaded. And both the Nobu restaurant and the Met Bar are bringing our ratings down.

Metropolitan Hotel by Como – London, United Kingdom – the entrance
The place they call Metropolitan Hotel. These days it comes with the add-on ‘by Como’, referring to Christina Ong’s miniature hotel chain, which now has grown to nine locations worldwide.

Metropolitan Hotel by Como – London, UK – bedroom
Rooms are now old enough to ride a moped. Therefore you may say that Keith Hobbs and his team did a fairly good job with the design. This one is on the 8th floor and bigger than a regular room. It also needs a refurbishment.

Metropolitan Hotel by Como – London UK – bathroom
In theory, Kate Moss, Robbie Williams, Becks & Posh and others could have flossed here. But that’s only theoretically speaking. To be honest, those days feels more like Met history than a sign of now.

Metropolitan Hotel by Como – Nobu London – United Kingdom
On the 1st floor: Nobu London. Over the years I’ve had half a dozen meals here, but I’m sad to say that they’ve lost quite a bit of edge lately. Straighten up, or that Michelin-star will be subject to your waste-management policy! UPDATE: True enough. in the new edition of the UK/Ireland edition of Guide Michelin, the Nobu has lost its star. Sometimes it’s sad to be right.

Metropolitan Hotel by Como – London, United Kingdom – the exterior
The quite suburb-like exterior of the Metropolitan. Its reception is way more stylish. As are the staff members. Not dressed in Donna Karen anymore, but Armani. More charming blocks of Mayfair are just behind.

There was a time…
…when the Metropolitan Hotel was the epicenter of the London hotel scene and being admitted into the Met Bar was something to celebrate. Guys with huge camera lenses lurked in the surroundings. With the years, I’ve felt the atmosphere turning more relaxed in exchange for being less electric. A change for the better, in my opinion. Caring for guests rather than for footballer’s wives is a concept that has a better chance to survive long-term.

The staff isn’t the problem…
Front desk is charming. Doormen are nice. The concierge is top class and well-connected. But rooms have lost their finish. Maybe the other 149 rooms were fine, but mine, despite being upgraded a more posh category, felt a bit jaded. The design of Keith Hobbs and Linzi Coppnick of United Designers (who also did Bono’s Clarence Hotel in Dublin) isn’t unattractive but it is quite apparent that 13 years have passed since it was modern.

…but what is going on at the Nobu?
I’m surprised. No. I’m baffled. Nobu Matsuhisa, a highly celebrated chef; co-owner actor Robert De Niro; that Michelin star… It should all work like a charm. It doesn’t. You can see the stress in the eyes of the staff. Yes, they do shout ”Irasshaimase!” (いらっしゃいませ!) when you arrive, but it’s closer to ”Oh no, another one!” than a happy greeting. The staff have very little time to interact with guests. Servings come in dribs and drabs. Call me negative, but that Michelin-star will soon be history. UPDATE: And since September 25, 2014 the Nobu is no longer a one-star restaurant.

…and the Met Bar? Honestly?
Before: The place where A-listers want to be seen. Now: Where shouting computer consultants hi-five each other in that particular ”we-are-from-Infosys-and-we-don’t-give-a-fuck”-way. Although this time, corporate types (one doing a shoeless dance in spotted, neon-green socks) were outperformed by mobster types in ”Clockwork Orange”-like masks bidding on a group of mid-aged escorts sporting fur-boas. I had to excuse myself to go looking for my dropped jaw. The Met Bar has turned into a circus, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

The Metropolitan Hotel needs an overhaul.
Once again; the hotel itself isn’t a problem area. Front desk and especially the concierge are near excellent. But 1) the well-used rooms need an overhaul, 2) Nobu clearly needs a kick in the butt and 3) the Met Bar, renovated as late as in 2011, needs a proper sandblasting. I prefer the tyrannical door-policy of the old days to this.
And hey, Metropolitan management… while you are upgrading the rooms; I always found that custom-made couch by the window quite useless for relaxation.

Metropolitan Hotel
19 Old Park Lane
London, W1K 1LB,
United Kingdom

+44 20 74471000

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