Between the West End and Regent Street, a stone’s throw away from busy Piccadilly Circus, is a 60-bedroom boutique hotel and private members club tucked away in a quiet dead-end street. St James’ ideal location for first-time tourists and more experienced Londoners alike drew me in. I wanted to experience a luxury night out in the city’s most affluent and iconic neighbourhood, a few Tube stops from my home.
Close to Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, with a direct entrance to Green Park, needless to say the hotel was mostly populated with wealthy travellers in the know. In town for business or pleasure, these guests knew they would experience the best of London’s main attractions, yet return to a calm and intimate atmosphere at the end of a packed day of sightseeing.
The Michelin-star restaurant
The absolute highlight of a stay at St. James is dining at its Michelin-star restaurant, Seven Park Place. Awarded the precious distinction for nine consecutive years, it also won Europe’s Luxury Hotel Restaurant and Europe’s Best Wine Selection Winner at the World Luxury Restaurant Awards in 2018. Executive Head Chef William Drabble was awarded one Michelin star only one year after opening Seven Park Place as well as four AA Rosettes. In short, I think it’s fabulous and I’m not the only one.
My experience involved a three-course dinner with beverage pairing including an unusual North East Chinese wine (Chateau Changyu, Golden Icewine Valley) recommended by the sommelier. The menu, which is inspired by French cuisine, presents sophisticated flavour combinations and locally sourced delicate ingredients. I chose the seared scallop, crushed braised Jerusalem artichokes, creamy salsify with lemon and parsley crumbs as a starter. Followed by a grilled fillet of seabass, celeriac and apple purée, roasted celeriac and truffle jus as the main. Both choices were a total success: visually pleasant but not complicated, tasty of course and reasonably filling. A six-course gourmand menu is also available (£95) including one with premium paired wines (£170).
With only 26 covers and nine tables, Seven Park Place is as confidential as it gets. And it shows in the decor. The dark lacquered furniture, chocolate and gold accents, thick carpet and white tablecloths suggest refined elegance. Handmade silk wallpaper in an Art Deco floral pattern adorns the walls and handcrafted Murano glass chandeliers give a touch of contemporary luxury to the overall interior. It’s a great setting for a romantic dinner date and very special occasions.
The bedrooms are also chic and stylish without any unnecessary embellishments, and more on the side of comfort and practicality than anything else. They’ve been clearly designed for the busy business traveller looking for a restorative good night’s sleep in a king size bed preferably – the place is exceptionally quiet for London – and access to all the amenities that they could not survive without – wifi, Bose and Sony iPod/iPhone docking stations. The bathrooms exude luxury with their polished natural stone and chrome glass fittings. Mine boasted a black and white marble table top, low lighting and silver details.
When morning comes, head to the William’s Bar & Bistro and order a vegan breakfast. Imagined by Chef William Drabble, the menu was designed as part of a package called Happiness in the city. I chose the vegan omelette with avocado and tomato but other options available include quinoa chia porridge with almond milk, carrot, orange and turmeric juice and Chickpea with Shakshucka. Of course, you’ll find Continental (£22.50) and English (£27.50) breakfast waiting for you there as well.