Checking In: Sofitel London St James

Beyond its stately neoclassical exterior, the 183-key hotel offers newly refurbished rooms that are bold and beautiful, with a quirky modern touch.

The hotel’s stately neoclassical exterior.

The Look

On a drizzly November morning, I checked into Sofitel London St James—a warm home away from home, made all the more welcoming with an effervescent doorman. Beyond its stately neoclassical exterior, the heritage-rich building retains much of his historic charm as a former private bank, but not without a touch of modern elegance. Located in the heart of London and a mere 5-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus station, the Grade II listed building features well-preserved architecture that’s photo-worthy at every turn.

In the lobby, an etched mirror pays homage to the hotel’s storied past.

In the lobby, an etched mirror pays homage to the hotel’s storied past, while scarlet armchairs, tall ceilings, and an intricate Persian rug create a sense of grandeur. Paintings by British and French artists grace the walls, signifying the meeting of both cultures in this hotel.

The Luxury Room in which I stayed, had midnight blue tartan carpet, matched by a set of Pierre Paulin lounge chair and stool in ultramarine.

The Rooms

Fresh from a US$21.3 million revamp, the newly refurbished rooms have been reworked by the hotel’s original designer Pierre Yves-Rochon to feature bold, Pantone-like hues in each room. The Luxury Room in which I stayed, had midnight blue tartan carpet, matched by a set of Pierre Paulin lounge chair and stool in ultramarine. Meanwhile, pop art-inspired elements made its presence with plates, art books, patterned vases, and a silkscreen print—art that blends seamlessly into its surroundings.

Art blends seamlessly into its surroundings.

In stark contrast, the bathroom came decked out in monochrome stripes and had an array of Hermès essential amenities. I was most impressed by the little touches meant to make my stay even more comfortable, such as calming chamomile tea to encourage a good night’s rest, as well as an entire sleep menu dedicated to indulgent baths, room scents, nightcaps, and bedtime books. Thoughtful amenities like Nespresso machine, smart television, and snacks, were par for the course.

Halo-shaped chandeliers at Wild Honey.

 The Food 

Buoyed by the long-time success of Wild Honey in its original Mayfair location, chef Anthony Demetre has relocated his brasserie to Sofitel London St James. New beginnings are marked by timeless interiors of leather sofas, baby blue upholstery, and halo-shaped chandeliers that light the space dramatically. Breakfast is a simple but delicious affair of Viennoiserie, including croissant and pain au chocolat, as well as hearty favorites like the English breakfast and porridge.

Line-caught English seabass.

During dinner, the restaurant’s penchant for combining French cooking techniques and British produce comes through in dishes like the line-caught English seabass, paired with wild mushrooms, fresh white beans, cobnuts, thyme, and lemon; as well as burrata with William pears, fresh walnuts, and dukkah spice. For pre- or post-dinner drinks, St James Bar entices with the enigmatically named “I am very specific with my Negroni” cocktail, a twist on the Italian aperitif.

Inside the SoSpa.

Don’t Miss

Whether wellness or fitness is on your agenda, there’s something for you at the hotel’s SoSpa and SoFit. Featuring ornate ceilings and arched windows, the former is an award-winning luxury spa offering bespoke body and face treatments, along with access to facilities like jet baths, steam rooms, and a zen lounge. Original memorabilia from the bank remains in the spa area, including a meeting room that’s now a chill-out area for guests to hang out post-spa.

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