Of all the hotels I’ve stayed at over the years, the Sofitel St James was really one of those pinch me moments. An icon in the heart of London, the hotel is a link back to an age of design where everything was done on a much grander scale. If you were going to do something, it was worth overdoing.
Set on the corner of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place, the hotel is a hop skip and jump away from sights such as the Royal Horse Guards, Piccadilly Circus, and the famed West End theatre district.
Exterior of the Sofitel St James London. Photo: Accor Hotels
Far from being a dusty old relic, as so many grand buildings are left to become, this Grade II Listed building conceals a beautifully renovated interior – a fusion of classic British and contemporary French design.
In fact, that French connection was one of the things that initially drew me to the hotel. Reading up on Tripadvisor before the trip, many of the reviewers said Sofitel St James was like a little piece of France in central London. Walking up to my room, several of the staff greeted me in French before English. I was so tempted to reply ‘bonjour!’ in a Julia Childs-esque manner, but figured I might scare the poor women…
The modern lobby, a stark contrast to the hotel exterior. Photo: Accor Hotels
My Classic Room was elegantly furnished, with a simple black, white and grey colour scheme. The most striking feature of the room, which took me a bit by surprise at its modernity, was a feature wall papered in a fine drawings of vintage clocks and watches. The only bit of colour in the room came from a bold print on the wall, but as a personal preference I quite liked the simple decor. It didn’t need to be flashy.
One of the Classic Rooms – simple, but functional. Photo: Accor Hotels
The mod cons such as an iPod dock, free internet access, and LCD TV were all present, as was a fully stocked mini bar. The ensuite was quite small but well appointed with Hermes toiletries, slippers and a plush bathrobe. It too continued the classic black and white colour scheme, with subway style tiles and elaborate chrome shower fittings. It took me a while to work how to turn on the shower.
The Balcon Restaurant. Photo: Accor Hotels
Dining options at the Sofitel St James included The Balcon, the 1920’s-style St James Bar (supposedly inspired by Coco Chanel’s apartment), and the seriously plush Rose Lounge, which on the night I stayed featured a solo harpist performance. Other highlights included an amazing day spa and gymnasium.
St James Bar. Photo: Accor Hotels
If there were an award for the best hotel location in London, this would probably be my pick. Exiting the hotel, a left turn lead to the Duke of York memorial and on to the Horse Guards Parade, while a right turn took you in the very heart of Piccadilly Circus and the West End. Everything was within easy reach.
Though it was nice to tick the Sofitel St James off my list, I was sad it was only for one night. Hopefully on my next trip back to the mother country I’ll get a chance to spend a little longer at this grand old icon. I’ve already picked out which seat at St James Bar I’m going to settle into.
Visit sofitelstjames.com for more info
Have you stayed at the Sofitel St James? What did you think?