I have always liked the look of a wedding cake. Especially those tall ones with ornate, decorative icing. Perhaps that’s why I was so wowed when I walked into St Ermin’s Hotel.
The visual of bright white icing-esque decor sent my taste buds and my emotions swirling into a romantic fantasy. I felt like I was standing inside a layered cake.
Even those who do not have a penchant for that kind of cake would surely admit the stunning nature of a winding staircase, curvaceous shapes and intricate designs. There is no denying the drama, no doubt, purposefully created by theatre designer J P Briggs.
And drama is part of this glorious hotel’s history. Indeed If those elaborate rococo ceilings and Art Nouveau plasterwork could talk, it would be an intriguing conversation.
St Ermin’s is where the British Intelligence services were based during the Second World War. As was Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive. There is a small military museum with wartime displays on-site on the ground floor. Do check it out.
It was in the hotel’s Caxton Bar that double-agent Guy Burgess (of Cambridge Five fame) delivered top-secret papers to the Russians.
My source told me (actually it was the lovely lady at reception) that there is a secret tunnel to the Houses of Parliament from a door located just under the grand staircase. It was locked – I checked.
The hotel has a driveway straddled by lush flora that leads to its Victorian facade where you can begin to see the intricacies as you approach. The building had a facelift in 2010 overseen by designer Dayna Lee, who, they say, was inspired by botanist Christopher Dresser. If you take a close-up look you will be able to spot floral designs around the place.
The hotel also serves another kind of guest in its Bee & Bee hotel. They keep their own bee hives in a lush environment where nature does its thing. So St Ermin’s can serve their own honey at tea time.
St Ermin’s is perfect for busy bees looking for some time out as well as those that just want to enjoy a historic place in St James. Family rooms mean the kids can come too. Great service is guaranteed here. Those on business may appreciate that the location is handy for Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.
The 311 rooms are far more modern than the entrance would suggest. Mod cons include a minibar, hairdryer, ironing board, flat-screen TVs and even dressing gowns and slippers. Full-size toiletries are by the White Company.
The king-size beds are very comfortable, the rooms are spacious and the bathrooms are simply delightful.
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My bedroom, suite 601 has a living room that leads to the bedroom and an ensuite bathroom with two sinks, a wetroom complete with a free-standing bath and a separate toilet. And two chocolate bees on the side table.
Food & Drink
The Caxton Bar and Grill offers a pleasant place to wine and dine on European food. The menu offers well-executed popular dishes such as roast salmon and rib-eye steak with perfect tripled cooked chips as well as some delicious wines and cocktails.
Maris, our waiter for the evening offered his wine pairings which we enjoyed very much. Breakfast is also served here. Of course, there is the Full English breakfast, a variety of cooked egg dishes and cereals.
Afternoon tea available on the floral terrace or indoors during inclement weather. Getting there is via the winding staircase passing that aforementioned secret door.
There’s free wi-fi, a gym and all-around sensational service.
The hotel is located a mere few steps from St James tube station. It is also close to Parliament Square and it is so worth spending an hour sauntering around the square to check out the amazing statues of including Winston Churchill, Mandela and Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln.
The gorgeous St James park is a few minutes away passing Downing Street and the Horse Guards Parade, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament Churchill War Rooms and the London Eye.
Queen Elizabeth conference room is nearby too.
Verdict: St Ermin’s Hotel is as beautiful as it is intriguing with a history that merits its own museum. Good food, good service and an all-round wonderful experience