One of my 50 in 2015 challenges was to sleep in an iconic hotel, and I’m pretty sure Sofitel St James, a five star luxury venue, qualifies above and beyond.
It’s our first anniversary this month, in a few days time, however the actual anniversary weekend will be taken up with other pursuits meaning we might not get a minute to ourselves. So we wanted to celebrate in advance with a night of plump pillows and turn down service.
We had the choice between Sofitel on Waterloo Place and the ever-so grand Hotel Pullman St Pancras, both part of the Accor stable, but as we wanted to be a bit more central, Sofitel was the clear winner.
After a night sinking in fresh sheets on a soft, warm bed, we’re convinced it’s the perfect anniversary celebration hotel in London, absolutely.
Why? Read on, reader. Read on.
Sofitel St James review: the location
Sofitel St James is as central as you get for a central London hotel. We couldn’t believe how perfectly located it is. Rated in the top twenty hotels on Tripadvisor, as well as being one of the best luxury hotels in London, we were excited to see how a London five-star compared to our five star experience in Edinburgh.
Sat at the junction of Regent Street and Pall Mall, green and pink on the Monopoly board respectively, Sofitel St James was once a bank and still operates as Lloyds next door. Where the safe once held millions of pounds in cash and gold, it’s now home to the spa, and the imposing reception area features curios and relics of its once financial past life.
Very fascinating for a history lover like me. Need directions? Its doors open on to the Crimean War Memorial, commemorating the Allies’ efforts – and eventual victory – in the Crimean war. (That’s the one Florence Nightingale was in.) It’s a stone’s throw from all the tourist sights such as Horseguards, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye as well as being right on Green Park and Buckingham Palace.
Piccadilly Circus, Embankment and Green Park are the closest tube stations, taking about five minutes to walk from each.
Sofitel St James review: the welcome
Walking up to the vast reception desk, a chipper chap named Thibout helped us check in, scanned my credit card to the tune of £100 for any incidentals, and we sipped on a welcome drink. After refusing a wake up call and newspapers, he took our overnight bag and walked with us up to our room on the second floor.
It was warm, professional service, exactly what you’d expect from such a venue. He even explained a bit about the hotel’s history, mentioning a few of the hotel’s well-known guests in the decade it’s been around, and led us past the Laurence Olivier suite (one day. One day.) to our room.
Unfortunately the room card didn’t work but Thibout used his master key and helped us inside before having it rescanned and sent up to the room about twenty minutes later. Better than traipsing downstairs, definitely.
Sofitel St James review: the room
After confirming we wouldn’t need a bathtub, we were shown into a gorgeous room with the tallest ceilings and its own hallway complete with vintage-styled wallpaper. A letter from the hotel’s manager welcomed us, and three nectarines were left for us to nibble on. It’s the littlest touches that make all the difference. Instead of being left to it, we were settled in with an explanation of the air con, shower and housekeeping routine, meaning no freezing nights or scalding showers.
I love exploring rooms, so while David relaxed and read all things cricket, I snooped around. The entrance hallway had two wardrobes, one full of pillows and bathrobes, the other with a trouser press, safe and tea-making tray. Although why you’d need that is anyone’s guess as each room is fitted with a Nespresso coffee machine and enough pods for a week’s stay.
The room looked onto Waterloo Place itself, over the memorial and Villandry across the street. Given how low we were to street level and how loud London is, especially with tour buses and their passengers gawping at the Grade II listed building every half hour, we thought we’d suffer with noise, but each window is double glazed and there are two sets of panes meaning it’s quiet as the country.
The sofa area made for a nice relaxing space, and the bed was huge! With feather pillow and night lights, every little thing has been taken care of. The Do Not Disturb sign is religiously observed; we’d forgotten to turn it off before leaving so noticed a card under the door with instructions for turn down.
Our bathroom was spacious and although we didn’t need a bath, the monsoon shower made up for it. Large enough for two (hint) it was one of the best showers I’ve ever had in my life. Imagine a bucket of warm water falling over you and gently massaging your shoulders… I must have spent about half an hour just soaking.
All in all, we were impressed. The room has a connecting door so it’s got potential for friends and family to mingle and socialise, and is one of the biggest rooms I’ve stayed in when kipping in the capital.
The hotel also has a pink tea room, with sweet treats and macarons for all, the spa mentioned earlier, St James Bar, and Balcon, the hotel’s restaurant. As we had a Pauls picnic in Green Park planned, we didn’t end up making use of any of the other facilities. Well, with a room as plush as ours why share time with strangers?
The only thing we noted was that the TV wasn’t working properly, and wouldn’t turn off at one point. Had we been staying for a few days we’d have got someone to take a look, but honestly, after an evening in the sun and strolling around the city we ended up watching a film then falling to sleep.
Sofitel St James review: did we get a good sleep?
While the bed was comfy, the room was pitch black, and the roads outside were quiet, I can’t stand feather pillows. They seem to wrap around my clearly-too-heavy head and suffocate me in the night. No, it wasn’t David trying to end it all, it was just the pillows. I just don’t get on with them at all, and for those with allergies, it might be worth requesting these are changed before you stay as the mattress had a similar feather pillow.
Aside from feather related ruffling, which is a personal preference rather than anything to do with the hotel’s service, we slept ever-so well. We’d been invited to stay on a Sunday so come Monday morning we set our alarms for 08:35am, rolled out of bed, got dressed and ready and had a rather lovely 3 minute commute to work. Not bad, ey?
Our overall opinion
With rooms starting from £240 (and our room topping the £300 mark), it’s by no means the cheapest hotel in the city. But considering the location, service, and size of the rooms on offer, it’s definitely got real potential for those wanting space and a little luxury. As explained in the opening paragraph, sometimes you need a little treat.
I’d happily recommend this hotel to friends and family, and it would make the perfect treat for parents, partners or just some alone time.
We loved...The location
You can't beat the location of Sofitel St James, you just can't. Central enough to be a short stroll from all the main tourist sights, but without the noise sleeping in Soho brings with it.
Nothing is too much trouble for the staff. From friendly doormen giving directions, to front of house staff, every whim will be indulged.
The little touches
Nespresso machines are great as they're so convenient, the wallpaper was gorgeous and the view was enviable.