During my recent trip to London, my lovely host realised that her spare room had accidentally been overbooked for a night. I said: "Excellent! I'm going to have a really indulgent stay in a fabulous hotel, with spa treatments, and lots of cocktails. If that sounds appealing to you, I would love for you to join me as my guest."
I have stayed at the Sofitel Melbourne a few times, and now it is my favourite place to take out-of-town guests for afternoon tea. But as much as I enjoy the Melbourne property, it did not prepare me at all for how wonderful the Sofitel St James was.
The property itself is beautiful, and all the amenities are to the highest standard. Every staff member I interacted with was perfection: friendly, helpful, warm, impeccably professional. The impression given was that it was absolutely delightful to be of assistance.
We enjoyed the atmosphere and service in the Rose Lounge, sipping tea and delicious hot chocolate and nibbling on delicate afternoon tea treats. Frankly, if I were local, I would be visiting the Rose Lounge to sit and catch up with friends weekly.
My friend and I had the traditional hamam scrubs with one hour massages at the SO Spa. The experience was divine, particularly the "recovery room" where we were served boutique tea and allowed to rest quietly after the treatment.
Dinner at The Balcon restaurant was a highlight of my entire trip to the UK. I live to eat, so I could barely contain my delight at the impressive seasonal produce, cooked to perfection. A smoked trout and blood orange salad was so light and balanced and vibrant that I wish I were eating it right now. But my main of lemon sole in brown butter with capers quickly shot up to my top ten list of memorable meals.
My friend and I then spent a very long evening in the bar, drinking cocktails and catching up on our lives, everything that has changed in the two years since she moved to the UK. Every cocktail was delicious, the service was memorably wonderful, and as I have been telling everyone with disbelief since I returned: the bar snacks are truffles. Because when you're drinking sweet wines and cocktails, the staff want to palate-match the bar snacks. Amazing.
The room was very comfortable and perfectly quiet. Lovely bathroom, plenty of clothes storage space, fantastic shower, etc.
Finally, the only quibbles I have:
1) I booked through the Sofitel St James website, but despite specifically booking a room with 2 singles, and re-confirming this on check-in, the bed was made up as a king, and we had to ask reception to split the beds after turn-down service.
2) When booking the spa treatments, I was specifically asked if we would like joint or separate rooms for the massage. I requested separate, but again, we were put into a joint treatment room for the massage.
3) Breakfast in the restaurant wasn't quite up to the standard of the previous experiences, but in my experience, hotel breakfasts never exceed expectations. Also it is a little confusing if you want eggs (they need to be ordered separately from the buffet), and the waitstaff did not volunteer to explain how it worked -- as a result my friend accidentally ended up with two breakfasts.
4) The temperature of the hotel was uncomfortably warm. Luckily this could be adjusted in the bedroom.
5) No top sheets/flat sheets were provided for the beds. This was an unpleasant surprise, only discovered when I was incredibly tired and actually climbing into bed. The bed was also so soft that I'm not sure I would be comfortable sleeping on it for more than one night.
These quibbles were all extremely minor, and the stay can simply be summed up as heavenly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sofitel London St James lies discreetly at the very heart of London. Created in a magnificent grade II listed building, the 183-room hotel boasts accommodation to suit every taste. The hotel features "The Balcon" French brasserie, the St James Bar elegant cocktail bar and the sumptuous Rose Lounge. It is also the perfect place to unwind with the gym and relaxation space, So FIT by Sofitel, and So SPA by Sofitel, a new kind of Spa experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sofitel St James London Hotel London
- Accor St James London
- Sofitel London St James England
- London Sofitel St James