I had no idea the grand, stone buildings of Pall Mall hid a Sofitel Hotel until it was time for me to check in. With a polite ‘Bonjour’ we were welcomed into what was once a banking hall and is now a 5-star hotel lobby.
After check in guests are given a quick orientation of the hotel and some information about the building’s history. Built in the 1920’s this grade 2 listed building was formerly the bank of Cox’s and King’s. Austere portraits of the original owners frame the entrance to the restaurant and a glass wall provides further insight into the area we are standing in.
As it’s teatime the pink-hued Rose Lounge is filled with guests enjoying scones and Parisienne pastries accompanied by the relaxing tones of harpist. With a fireplace, fresh flowers and bookshelves, it’s just the kind of den I like to curl up in.
Our tour continues via the spa to The Balcon Restaurant, where we will have breakfast tomorrow, and back to the lift lobby, which is accented by an incredible bouquet of fuchsia flowers.
The colours of our room are much more muted. The monochrome tones of the bedroom work well with the historic architecture just outside the window, whilst the bathroom has chequered tiles that make my friend and I coo.
We settle into the corner seats to work out a plan for the evening. We’ve been shopping up a storm in the city, on the hunt for birthday Louboutin’s for her and wedding Choo’s for me, and our feet could do with a bit of loving. A quick call to the spa tells us they are too full to cater for us (note to book in advance for these popular services) but a quick search of Google leads us to a Thai spa in Covent Garden who can fit us in later that evening.
After a quick freshen up with the indulgent Hermes toiletries we head down to the hotel bar for a cheeky pre-dinner cocktail. The St James Bar is modelled on the Parisian apartment of Coco Chanel, it’s moody, warm and mysterious and we feel chic just sitting there. The generous sized cocktails come with complimentary snacks (that have an unexpected kick) and floral decorations that we just have to take pictures of. The service is charming and personal and puts us in a wonderful mood for the rest of the evening.
The next morning, the thought of French baguettes tempts us out of the cavernous and incredibly comfy bed. (The famous Sofitel MyBed™, developed by Epeda and Dumas, is an innovative combination of a bed base, mattress and a featherbed, plus a downy soft duvet and generously sized pillows. Bed linens are by Yves Delorme. It’s combination that feels as good as its sounds.) Luckily breakfast at The Balcon is worth getting out of bed for.
Food stations are dispersed around the light-filled restaurant – baskets of bread and pastries in the middle, fruit, yoghurts, meats and cheeses under the stairs and a hot buffet at the far end. The breakfast included in our room also comes with the option of ordering something warm custom-made from the menu but after a bucket-sized cup of coffee and (too) many of the tasty pastries we can’t fit anything more in.
Location-wise the hotel is perfect for first time visitors to London. You are less than 5 minutes from Trafalgar Square and sites like Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben are all within walking distance. From inside the rooms, however, you would never know you are in the heart of such a frenetic city, you can barely hear a sound from the enormous sound-proofed windows.
If, like me, it’s not your first time to the city, Sofitel St James is a great option if you’d like to stay somewhere very chic, that offers a little taste of France with an eyeful of historic London. Our breakfast may have been very Continental but the view was all British. The whole experience was wonderfully European – pretty much perfect for a girl who has been missing that part of the world.
For more information about the Sofitel St James London visit the website.
The hotel kindly treated us to a complimentary room but all opinions are my own.