Last Updated on August 24, 2021
St Ermin’s – An elegant hotel in the heart of London
It’s always a good sign when you want to go back somewhere and jump at any invitation. This was my third visit to St Ermin’s Hotel, first for a quintessentially English afternoon tea, next for Provence Rosé on their beautiful terrace and now for an overnight stay and dinner in their restaurant the Caxton Grill.
This lovely independent deluxe four-star hotel is part of the Autograph Collection. Tucked away in between St James’s and Victoria it is right in the heart of Westminster, ideally located for exploring some of London’s best historical attractions including Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey. A charming hotel that feels like a well-kept secret set back off the street and nestled at the end of a pretty tree-lined courtyard.
It is situated in a horseshoe-shaped grade II listed building that has an interesting history. It was reputedly built upon the site of a 15th-century monastery dedicated to St. Ermin, and in 1989 when Westminster was undergoing great changes, they built one of the capital’s first mansion blocks here, which later in 1899, under new ownership, was converted into a hotel, now known as St. Ermin’s Hotel. During the Second World War St Ermin’s Hotel become a meeting place for British Intelligence Services, in 1940 Winston Churchill held a historic meeting at the hotel in which he asked a group of remarkable people to join him in ‘Setting Europe Ablaze’. This group of elites went on to become founder members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive). The SEO was known to have carried out covert operations during WW2, printing secret coded messages on pieces of silk, which can now be found hanging in the hotel lobby. There is currently a small exhibition on the ground floor of some of the paraphernalia used during these operations.
The hotel was also occupied by MI6 and in the 1950’s the spy Guy Burgess (part of the infamous Cambridge five) handed over secret papers to his Russian counterpart in the Caxton Bar. And rumour has it that just under the staircase there is a door which leads to a secret tunnel to the Houses of Parliament…
Another fascinating thing about St Ermin’s is that they have made space for a Bee& Bee hotel, these honey-making guests are kept on the third floor where you can go and watch around 350,000 good-tempered bees in their own lush environment safely from behind glass. Then, come tea-time you can enjoy their very own honey with your scones and clotted cream.
On arrival we were warmly welcomed into the hotel lobby, which has a real wow factor with its bright white wedding cake décor, rococo ceilings and Art Nouveau plasterwork and a ceiling hung with large sparkling glass chandeliers. What really ticks the theatrical fantasy box for me though is its grand central staircase, fit for a fairytale princess, it was in fact designed by theatre designer J P Briggs.
We were shown to our junior suite, one of 311 rooms. The spacious plum coloured living room had a small sofa, attractive soft furnishings, a desk and a wall-hung TV.
The table was set with a bottle of fizz, two glasses and some nibbles – the perfect way to kick off our stay! The room was well equipped with all mod cons including a mini-fridge, a fresh coffee machine, tea making facilities, an iron, towelling robes, slippers and a hairdryer. The spotless shower room had a double sink cut into marble stone and a good-sized shower with White Company products.
The elegant bedroom boasted a super comfy canopied bed with soft plump pillows and crisp white linen. If you wanted to spend the day in bed, there’s another TV in the bedroom alongside plentiful wardrobe space.
After relaxing in our suite we made our way to dinner, I now rather regret using the lift rather than making my entrance via the stunning staircase.
Dinner (and breakfast) was served in the Caxton Grill. We walked through a series of stylish contemporary rooms to the sumptuous Caxton Bar looking out over the well-kept lush terrace before moving into the restaurant itself. This attractive dining room creates a warm a friendly atmosphere with turquoise wood-panelled walls hung with modern prints, leather banquettes, distressed oak flooring, eclectic soft furnishings and wooden tables.
We browsed the cocktail list, a great selection of G&Ts and classics cocktails including ‘The Cambridge Five’ themed after the five Cambridge educated Russian spies and their handlers. I chose a classic dry Martini, – an excellent combo of gin and dry vermouth, shaken not stirred, with an olive of course – a proper drink, the barman clearly knew what he was doing. My companion had a refreshing and light Mo – with pear, fresh mint, lime, sugar and club soda.
The Caxton Grill has a long tradition of supporting talented young chefs including Chef Adam Handling, who the team at London-Unattached have continued to follow on his gastronomic journey. The current menu offers a good selection of well-executed modern British classics and European dishes.
We started with a deliciously warm, soft-baked goat’s cheese with parsley served with luscious honeyed figs, sweet fig chutney and paper-thin, crisp flatbread drizzled with olive oil.
And a fresh zingy tasting cured sea bass with sweet-sour pomegranate and sprinkle of mint. Our waiter provided wine pairings for the meal which for our starters was a Sauvignon Blanc, lightly sweet with notes of apple and lychee.
The confit salmon was cooked perfectly and made for a lovely light summers dish, served with basil mayonnaise, cucumber, fennel and white balsamic dressing. I enjoyed my succulent grilled 8oz ribeye steak with roasted tomato and peppercorn sauce. And on the side some fluffy triple cooked chips, a portion of crisp lemony sautéed courgettes and a mixed leaf side salad. Paired with a crisp dry citrus Chablis with good minerality.To finish the meal, we shared an indulgent fantasy-style strawberry sundae, made with ice cream and lashings of whipped cream.
The next morning, we were back for breakfast – plenty of choice including a full English along with continental options.
St Ermin’s Hotel is an elegant contemporary hotel, fitting for discerning guests who want to enjoy a peaceful and comfortable stay in a central London location.
Suitable for a romantic getaway, a family break or a business trip.
St Ermin’s Hotel,
2 Caxton Street,
London, SW1H 0QH
+44 (0)20 7222 7888
Lucy was a guest of St Ermin’s Hotel.