The experience of walking into the lobby of the newly refurbished St. Ermin’s Hotel is like strolling on to the top of a big wedding cake – not a bad metaphor, given that the hotel reopened its doors earlier this year, just the day before Will and Kate tied the Royal Knot just a few blocks away at Westminster Abbey.
The elements implicit in the metpahor – world-class style, history, unmatched attention to detail, and a celebration of new beginnings – reverberate throughout the guest experience at the luxury hotel.
Built on a site that once reportedly housed a monastery – hence the “St. Ermin’s” moniker -, the structure once served as “mansion flats” for the well to do of Westminster.
Its original design as a hotel, conceived in the Victorian era, took inspiration from noted British designer J.P. Briggs, who designed theaters in and around London. Theatrical elements still animate the hotel’s grand ballroom and the aforementioned lobby, both of which serve as meeting places for MPs and other influentials in the Houses of Parliament, which is located just a few blocks away.
Affairs of State and British history inhabit practically every crevice of the hotel: It was on the Upper Floors that Winston Churchill held secret wartime meetings and created the MI5 British secret service during World War II.
And the infamous Cambridge Five spies – immortalized in the Hollywood thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” which hits theaters this month -, were seen to have been exchanging secrets, cocktails, and maybe more, in the St. Ermin’s bar in the 1950s.
But today’s sophisticated traveler wants style, comfort and elegance alongside her history – and the St. Ermin’s has those in abundance.
The 245 guest rooms and suites in the main hotel, breathe life, energy, and a distinctly contemporary vibe – atypical for an historic property in London. The colorful wall coverings, furnishings and guest amenities display a quirky botanical sensibility, drawing inspiration from noted British botanist Christopher Dresser, whose drawings and sketches can be found on display throughout the hotel.
And the service . . . ahh, the service! As one online reviewer wrote, it is “easy, sophisticated, approachable and attentive”, the very definition of modern luxury.
It’s easy to lose oneself in the chic, softly lit bar in the St. Ermin’s, among the flights of champagne, wine and whiskey, which are its signature.
After a little creative eavesdropping in the bar, perhaps picking up a few State Secrets uttered by the high-level government officials nearby – the spy lore of the hotel continues! -, the hotel’s Caxton Grill is just through the main doors.
Here, Executive Chef Hus Vedat brings together elements of east, west, and deep south – he took part of his training at the restaurant’s “sister property,” the 1808 Grille, in, of all places, Nashville, Tennessee . . . into in a mix of New European fare that is sure to delight the most discriminating palette.
The centerpiece of Vedat’s kitchen is a signature Josper Oven, which cooks steaks, seafood and cheeses at temperatures of more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit . . . producing a refined, fresh, smoky taste that even Bobby Flay would find impressive. The steaks and seafood are cooked to perfection -- with “small plates” and accents, some of which made their way from Nashville to London via Vedat, that never fail to entice.
The gastronomic experience at the Caxton Grill mirrors the guest experience at the hotel – eclectic, quirky and quietly understated, with a clear attention to detail and the highest levels of service.
One can stay, and dine, at dozens of the finest hotels and restaurant in Europe, and have great experiences; but doing so at the St. Ermin’s and the Caxton Grill, leaves you with the feeling that you have really “been some place.”
And the place, happens to be the perfect location for taking in the sights and sounds of historic and contemporary London: All the important buildings of State are nearby, and the Queen’s own St. James’s Park is a two-minute walk. The St. James’s Tube stop is just around the corner.
The elegant energy of Piccadilly and Mayfair sit right across the Park. Up-and-coming Vicotoria is also a few blocks away, as are access to the Thames, the London Eye and other tourist spots.
Upon returning from a day of touring, the St. Ermin’s is a haven of comfort, relaxation, and retreat.
Enjoying a flight of champagne at the bar, one is led to reconsider the original impression -- and wonder whether the St. Ermin’s experience feels more like stepping onto wedding cake, or landing in the midst of a quiet pageant of the sounds, smells and sensations of the glory of London . . . past, present, and future.
Affluent Magazine's readers are highly encouraged to undertake the voyage of discovery for themselves.
For more information or to book a stay, please call +44 207 222 7888, or visit online, at www.sterminshotel.co.uk.