Staycationing at St James’s Hotel and Club
Nestled in a side street, a stone’s throw from the Ritz, Green Park and Mayfair, St James’s Hotel and Club is the kind of hotel I’d like to find in every city. Or at least, something similar but with local style. While I love the glitz and glamour of larger 5-star hotels, when I’m travelling alone I’d rather have a more personal service with reception staff who know me and with public spaces that are intimate enough to sit in by myself and read a book.
But, I don’t want to lose the luxury. I still want fluffy robes, good quality soap and service with a smile. St James’s succeeds in fusing the best of both in a quintessentially English Town House hotel. With 56 rooms and 12 suites, it’s large enough to offer a comprehensive range of services and yet small enough to remain a ’boutique’ offering.
There are doormen and a 24-hour reception, there’s a cosy bar and a rather excellent restaurant. There’s a lounge for afternoon tea or morning coffee and although the hotel doesn’t have its own gym or spa, they offer ‘in-room spa treatments’ – Black Label by Perfect 10 – a mobile wellness service.
I went along to stay for a night, by invitation of the hotel and with the promise of ‘best room available’. My accommodation turned out to be a stunning deluxe suite which really did feel like home from home for me. Room 503 has a pretty and comfortable sitting room with desk, sofa, two armchairs and a fireplace. There’s a well stocked mini bar and we were provided with a welcome plate of fruit and a small bespoke St James’s Hotel box of chocolates. Murano lights and silk wallpaper added to the luxurious feel and the whole suite was decorated with soft farrow and ball type colours
The bathroom had a full sized bath, shower, double sinks and Penhaligon’s toiletries – some miniatures and some full-size bottles of shower gel and bath foam.
There hanging up in the bathroom were those fluffy robes and there were slippers and a proper hairdryer rather than one chained to the wall at an impossible angle to use for those of us who are somewhat vertically challenged. Compact but very well equipped and beautifully furnished with the gleaming white sanitaryware and sparkling chrome contrasting with black granite and gold countertops and tiles, the bathroom was discretely luxurious.
Equipped with more wardrobe space than I have at home, the stylish bedroom was well presented with tasteful colour pops added by the bright yellow silk bed cover and cushions. Fine white bed linen added to the classic charm of the suite. I’d have been happy to stay here for a lot longer, it managed to combine comfort and timeless elegance in a way that made me feel perfectly at home.
On the way down to the bar for drinks before dinner, we lingered to admire the spectacular display of shoes by Lucy Choi, the niece of Jimmy Choo who, after a stint at French Sole has set up her own shoe boutique.
These are the sort of shoes that if you are looking for glamour and style, can afford a little more than high street prices but are not quite in the market for Louboutins, you might consider. Her brand aims to provide top quality AND comfort – and as a lover of high heels I know that’s no mean feat! I’m off to try for myself, though I suspect I’ll be sticking to kitten heels rather than the stunning skyscraper stilettos on display.
Downstairs, the bar has an excellent selection of cocktails and aperitifs. I enjoyed a goji berry martini, while my companion had a classic martini. Bar Manager Salvatore Maggio provided a friendly and helpful service and once I’d sat down, I’d have been happy to just stay put for the evening.
The hotel offers a range of ‘British Tapas’ in the bar, priced between £4 and £7.50 in addition to a bistro menu which includes dishes like steak, caesar salad and mushroom risotto at the kind of price you might pay in any local restaurant. Perfect for a jet lagged traveller. However, we were being treated to dinner at Seven Park Place, though, William Drabble’s Michelin Starred restaurant with just 26 covers. That deserves a full write up, so, for now, you’ll just have to use your imagination…
After dinner, I slept like a baby. Turn down service was efficient and professional. I liked the way the top covers and cushions were neatly stacked in the corner, just in case we needed them during the night. I also liked the ultra sensible ‘make-up’ face cloth in the bathroom. It’s the small touches that make a difference.
The next morning, breakfast was a civilised affair. I feel a moral obligation to try the Full English breakfast in every hotel where it is available. This time I decided that I’d actually order eggs, though safely scrambled rather than with the baby chicken part (yolk) visible. Actually, I quite enjoyed them, although the portion was about four times larger than I could eat. They were nicely creamy and not over set. The rest of the Full English was good too, with a meaty sausage and a generous portion of black pudding. I didn’t try the beans – something I never feel appropriate with a Full English despite the fact they are often served. They originated in the US and my personal view is that they work best served as part of a sausage casserole for supper or on toast for lunch.
I did have a tiny pot of what I believe was homemade yoghurt and honey, which was a lovely palate cleanser.
My companion conveniently indulged in my own anathema, a dish I find visually stunning if prepared properly but one I can’t even bear to taste. Eggs Hollandaise should be served exactly like this – on a light and not too chewy muffin and with the yolks properly runny.
The tea was hot and strong, the coffee fresh and aromatic. There were plenty of options for juices, fruits, cold meats and smoked salmon and a delicious assortment of breakfast pastries. No complaints at all.
St James’s Hotel has a history. Although the buildings were erected as blocks of flats or ‘gentlemen’s chambers for the English aristocracy’ 7 Park Place was home to a group called The Field Club and seems to have been something of an illegal gambling den. Raided by the police in 1889, twenty-one arrests were made including three English and several European noblemen. The flats first took the name of Old St James’s House in the 1960s but it wasn’t until 2008 that the building was reopened as The St James’s Hotel and Club. It does now house the St James’s Club, a revival of an historic club for gentlemen travellers, founded by Earl Granville in 1857 and revived in 2008 by Peter de Savary, who also developed St James’s Club where I stayed in Antigua.
It’s always sad leaving a hotel where the service has been exemplary, the accommodation super comfortable and the food and drink offering close to perfect. But, we did have to go and wandered out into a drizzly grey London morning. I’ll be writing later about 7 Park Place but for now, would like to thank the team at St James’s Hotel and Club for such a pleasant stay.
St James’s Hotel and Club is part of the Althoff collection of hotels and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
St. James’s Hotel and Club Mayfair
7-8 Park Place
St. James’s, London, SW1A 1LS
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