It's the middle of winter and days appear to drag, merging into one long, never-ending darkness. Don’t misunderstand me, I like winter; the cosy jumpers bundled under huge coats, the excuse to stay indoors having a cuppa and the delicate frost on the trees. However for some, the cold is just unbearable, and it’s no real surprise that many of us are itching to bring along our bags and escape as soon as possible.
But what if I told you that you don’t need to jet off to somewhere warm to flee from the chill of the Engish winter. Instead, why don't you buy a stay at the 5-star, luxury hotel, Sofitel London St James? As a Londoner, I understand that staying in your own city can feel strange, but because I've learnt that when you've checked in and you’re using a dressing gown, London seems like a flight away. Plus, in the age of lowering your carbon footprint, it's nice to be able to cycle to your staycation.
I need to be honest, I didn’t know about the Sofitel London St James before they kindly invited me to review their new Sunday experience. Having said that, I've probably walked beyond the grand building near Picadilly more than a hundred times. The outside might have been exactly the same for hundreds of years, but inside they've been busy.
An extensive refurbishment by Pierre-Yves Rochon means all-new rooms designed to be inspired by the creative, dynamic feel of society and culture of 1960's London, blending bold British design with contemporary French elegance. It's not just the rooms that have been renovated too. The new restaurant might be familiar with a. Chef Anthony Demetre's popular Wild Honey has had residence on the floor floor alongside a brand new St James bar.
On arriving at your accommodation, one thing hasn't changed. It's the old fashioned British attention to detail. Within minutes of arriving, we're warmly greeted and shown to our room. It’s a luxurious, elegant finish, furnished with a mixture of classic pieces and modern practicalities. Then there's your bed. I could've invited my flatmates (two sizeable blokes) and that we still would've all managed to fit comfortably. However, before I had time to invite them round it had been off and away to the Wild Honey restaurant.
Now if remaining in London feels strange, then eating in a hotel restaurant there possibly even more so. But Sofitel London St James have clearly given this some thought. The restaurant has its own wing within the building, detached enough to seem like it’s not part of the hotel. Here, Anthony Demetre and Head Chef Simon Woodrow have worked together to put together a menu that aims to showcase the very best of British seasonal produce and contemporary French cooking.
The menu includes starters like grilled cornish sardines, brown shrimp or jugged hare and mains for example French classics like bouillabaisse but also lots of amazing British ingredients like seabass and Welsh lamb. The autumn menu features five courses and it’s actually pretty reasonable at lb65 should you think about the area we're in. We started with a not so French or British mixture of burrata served with walnuts and pears and a rigatoni, hand-cut with crispy boneless chicken.
Both starters were just right. Delicate but full of rich flavour. The pasta was incredibly moreish using the best bits of any chicken dish generously sprinkled on top. Salty crispy skin providing an incredible contrast in texture to the perfectly cooked pasta. If you're feeling hungry, order the roast heritage beetroots which showcase how the chefs combine top quality British ingredients with refined cooking to produce something truly special.
With at least four fish dishes featuring among the mains, we went for roast cod with tempura and grilled broccoli served with shetland island mussels. The cod would be a delicious chunky cut that flaked with even the slightest touch from the fork and like every great French cooking, this dish was all about the sauce. Deep, buttery making for that extra little bit of bread held on up for grabs.
We went for English sea bass next with wild mushrooms, salsify and merlot vinegar. The sauce here balanced the dish if you don't take anything away from the meaty, delicate flavour from the fish. This was a great example of fresh ingredients cooked to perfection. Hotel or not it's really some of the best cooking you can get working in london.
There's a lot more offered at Sofitel London St James for guests to consider benefit of. From afternoon tea in the Rose Lounge to some treatment in the spa or a cocktail at the bar, you could spend most of the day here and feel just as rejuvenated as a week in a tropical destination.
The final word, however, should go to the staff. Every person we encountered went of their way to make the stay feel special. I only stayed there for a night but felt like I was treated just like a regular. Their amazing service is an excellent reflection of a hotel that has clearly gone above and beyond to ensure every aspect of the items they offer is really as good as it can be. Book yourself in on the Sunday, enter through those grand doors and then leave London behind, even when it is just for a night.