St Ermin’s is a time-capsule of accessible refinement, a showcase of craftsmanship, and an oasis of comfort. Its location is convenient, being just around the corner from St James’s Park Underground station, but it’s this hotel’s history and elegance that will assure many happy returns.
This four-star deluxe hotel in London’s St James’s Park has been transformed after a huge £30 million renovation project. It’s located just a short distance from the tourist hubs of Buckingham Palace and the ever-popular shops, restaurants and amusements of Piccadilly. But the Underground puts all of central London within easy reach. Buy your Travelcard on arrival and ride the tube like a local.
This is a grade II-listed building and it’s easy to see why. The reception area is a stunning vision of snowy-white and finely-tooled plaster. In ‘the good old days of the 1900s’ the walls would likely have had a less bright and wholesome tint. Smoking was common and that included everything from showy pipes to robust cigars. Crisp white is much more becoming.
The style is Art Nouveau with Rococo plasterwork, a sweeping staircase and balcony. St. Ermin’s interiors were designed by the famous British theatrical designer J. P. Briggs, and it’s easy to see the connection. The lines are soft and organic, with both plants and birds in abundance. Crystal chandeliers twinkle and soft sofas tempt the guest to linger a while and perhaps return, as if in a dream, to a gentler time.
There are corners for quiet meetings, alcoves for a private lunch, comfy chairs and tables where one can enjoy a cup of tea or a cocktail, or perhaps just read the daily paper. On the other hand, no, don’t read the news – that would be a distraction from this idyll of calm and good taste.
The hotel boasts 331 spacious rooms including 41 suites, although it actually seems like a much smaller and more intimate hotel. These are not cookie-cutter designed rooms, as St Ermin’s was not originally built as a hotel. Perhaps that’s part of the charm. One could enjoy many visits here and always find something new. The consistent elements are quality and attention to detail.
Each room is sumptuously furnished, with crisp linens and soft fabrics. The pillows, a bed item often overlooked by hoteliers, are ample and, well, pillowy. Just the sort for snuggling into for bedtime reading or sinking into for quiet and uninterrupted sleep.
The bathroom toiletries are high-end and the towels fluffy and generous. Multi-national plug sockets are perched conveniently on the desk. There is the expected free wi-fi and a flat-screen TV. There is a good supply of both tea and coffee and even a couple of ’to go’ cups for those unfortunates who have missed breakfast …and you wouldn’t want to do that!
Full spread of morning dishes
The Caxton Grill is a modern 72-seat restaurant with a view over St Ermin’s wonderfully planted and verdant courtyard. Breakfast is taken here in the restaurant’s main dining room and its adjoining smaller spaces. There is a full spread of morning dishes and delights to suit every taste. Those looking for a hot plate of sausages (and rather good ones, too), bacon and eggs are well catered for. There are pastries and breads and even cakes. There is a creditable cheese selection and cold meats, along with smoked salmon. Perhaps have a bit of everything and finish with a fruit platter in the hopes it will make you feel noble.
The honey you might add to your breakfast teacup might not be local, but much of the honey used in the restaurant is. Yes, very local. There are 300,000 Buckfast bees living in hives on the roof of St Ermin’s. They collect nectar from the nearby Royal Gardens of St James’s Park and Buckingham Palace. This concept of ‘London Honey’ is not as strange as it at first might seem. It is thought that these buzzing city dwellers produce some of the finest honey, as the aforementioned nectar comes from such a variety of flowery sources, unlike a country bee which might collect from just the nearest large flowering crop.
I have visited St Ermin’s often for dinner and afternoon tea; however, this was my first overnight stay. The hotel didn’t disappoint. It is a beautiful building with a history of clandestine Cold-War activity (more of that in my next St Ermin’s article) but with all the trappings of this age of technology, communication and comfort. I spy another visit, to unwind in the bar with a classic cocktail – shaken, not stirred!
St. Ermin’s Hotel
Phone: +44 (0)20 72227888