Being such an old city, London has so many fantastic little nooks and crannies to explore. Even in the most central part of town there are mews and lanes with hidden secrets and special places. There’s no doubt that each little corner has a story, something from London’s past, a famous person’s residence or a scandalous bit of gossip. Nestled in a courtyard is the self-proclaimed ‘best kept secret in Mayfair,’ St James’s Hotel & Club a luxury boutique hotel with a difference.
A far cry from London’s Grand Dame’s St James’s Hotel & Club has only 60 rooms and is part of the hand-picked selection that make up the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The charming intimacy of the hotel means that it’s perfect for a romantic weekend or a girlie break especially given the proximity to London’s most exclusive shopping and restaurants as well as Green Park, Buckingham Palace and The Royal Academy of Arts.
Hanging in the foyer, I admired a selection of shoes by Lucy Choi, niece of the famous Jimmy Choo, but it wasn’t long before my partner in crime turned up. Lauren and I had an exciting weekend planned together, staying here for the night and afternoon tea at Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square the next day.
Rooms are finished to the highest level of luxury with silk wallpaper and Murano glass chandeliers. The overall look is modern whilst still being classic and contemporary and I must say I got an excellent night’s sleep in the Hypnos bed!
Across from our bed was a stylish desk space with a iPod and complete mini bar.
The shiny bathroom is comparably large with a separate bath and shower with stylish black tiles.
Now I must say at 25 square metres, our Deluxe bedroom was quite cosy but that is often the case in London hotels. If budget allows, I’d opt for a slightly bigger Junior Suite which has the benefit of a separate living area and more space.
One thing we did have was a beautiful terrace…
And pouring ourselves a glass of wine, we headed outside to enjoy that gorgeous outdoor space.
Remember that weekend when it was unseasonably hot in London? Yup, it was that weekend and we sat outside on the decking and did that very British thing where you talk about how amazing it is to have good weather in April.
Drinking our wine and catching up whilst admiring the beautiful terrace houses and roof tops of St James. Starting as a club for travelling diplomats in 1857, the hotel has attracted the upper echeleons of society for many years, most significantly in the 1930’s Winston Churchill often visited the club and James Bond creator Ian Fleming briefly made it his home during the Second World War. The club was turned into a hotel in 1986 and for over thirty years has welcomed many starry celebrities through its doors such as Robert Redford, Liza Minelli and Elle McPherson.
We didn’t have to go too far for our dinner, as we would be eating in the hotel restaurant. But this wasn’t just any hotel restaurant, Seven Park Place by William Drabble is famous for being the smallest Michelin-starred restaurant in London.
First a glass of champagne at the hotel bar, William’s Bar and Bistro. I’ve been here before when I spent the day in exploring London with Small Luxury Hotels, so I can already vouch that the British tapas created by Michelin-starred Chef William Drabble is super tasty. The bar itself is lovely too and like the rest of the hotel has the intimate feeling as if you’re in someone’s private house.
We then headed into the the bijou restaurant that includes only nine table for 26 people, an immediate assurance of excellent service and good food. And we certainly weren’t disappointed as we delved into the bread basket and sampled the different flavours of butter.
I took a few pictures of the restaurant interior the next day in the light and you can see how comfortable it is with plenty of private nooks for added intimacy. Personally I prefer a brighter space and the wallpaper is a little dark and elaborate for me but I loved the plush furnishings and artwork.
William Drabble combines French-influenced cuisine with British ingredients and having grown up in rural Norfolk he champions British farmers and fisherman. He only uses the freshest of produce often harvested that day and delivered directly to the restaurant.
My starter was light and zesty with perfectly cooked red mullet paired with grilled calamari, fennel and blood orange. If you watched my video you’ll have seen that I had quite an indulgent weekend, so I was definitely trying to make light choices where possible without missing out on flavour.
Lauren spied one of her favourites on the menu and wasn’t disappointed by the trio of fat, juicy scallops with crisp artichokes, Madeira, and black Périgord truffle. A dish I would have loved myself, containing lots of my favourite ingredients.
William Drabble takes inspiration from the seasons and our dishes definitely had a spring feel about them, great for this warm weekend! My main course was ravioli of slow cooked rabbit which featured the most beautifully made pasta and paired with firm butter poached langoustines on a bed of leeks. I absolutely loved this dish and it was perfectly portioned for me.
Lauren’s choice of griddled fillet of sea bass with celeriac and apple puree was once again combined with that delicious earthy flavour of Périgord truffle and was really quite a perfect combination. I also liked the use of the brown plate to provide a contrast with the fish and other ingredients.
A passion fruit and ice cream combination made the perfect palate cleanser and I continued the passion fruit theme with a souffle with dark chocolate sauce.
Perfectly risen and so light and fluffy!
Lauren’s dessert choice was absolutely beautifully presented. An orb of meringue hiding seasonal poached rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet.
After nibbling on some petit fours we didn’t have far to go to bed and with a glass of wine in hand we headed upstairs still chatting until the small hours of the morning.
Back in the bar in the morning and there’s a very elegant breakfast buffet or you can order à la carte.
It was two boiled eggs for Lauren and I ordered the healthy breakfast made up of cottage cheese and oatmeal pancakes with avocado smoked salmon and dill. Along with quinoa crumpets with caramelised banana, manuka honey and coconut yogurt and almond milk porridge. A glowing green smoothie added further colour to the already rainbow bright plate. This smoothie was actually invented for Dita Von Teese by William Drabble when she required a healthy pick me up!
A cosy lounge is the final public room that we found, with wooden panelling and comfy sofas giving that club like feel that was first established in the townhouse. There’s no actual spa but St James’s Hotel & Club has a partnership with Black Label by Perfect Ten to offer a range of spa and beauty treatments to the guests right in their rooms.
Our stay at St James Hotel & Club was all to short and it was soon time to say goodbye to this gorgeous hidden gem in the centre of town!
Take a look at what I ate at St James Hotel & Club and everything else that I got up to that weekend!
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St James’s Hotel & Club
7 – 8 Park Place
We were guests of St James’s Hotel & Club and Seven Park Place