Sandwiched between the Mall and Piccadilly, St James’s is genteel, English and somehow masculine by reputation – perhaps because of the presence of several gentlemen’s clubs in the area, along with Jermyn Street, known for its gentlemen’s outfitters. The best hotels in St James’s range from the discreet, like the charming Dukes – home to Dukes Bar, renowned for its martinis – to the exuberant, like the storied Ritz. The Wolseley, an elegant modern rendition of a grand café, is a great place to eat – it’s open from breakfast to dinner – and drink in the atmosphere. Piccadilly Circus and Green Park tubes sit at two corners of the area, and it’s is also a short walk from Charing Cross and Covent Garden. Here is our pick of the best hotels in St James’s.
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The best hotels in St James's
The Cavendish’s 1960s building stands on the site of a hotel of the same name run by Rosa Lewis, rumoured to have been a mistress of King Edward VII. It may lack that property’s raffish, fin de siècle appeal, but it’s a comfortable, fairly reasonably priced hotel in an expensive neighbourhood. Plush, neutrally decorated rooms come with coffee machines, Villeroy & Boch bathrooms and White Company toiletries. There are cocktails in the Rosa Lewis bar, and British dining in the restaurant, Petrichor.
The oh-so-traditional Dukes looks like the perfect location for an Agatha Christie mystery. It actually has a real claim to retro fame as the watering hole of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Its bar, according to some, is the home of the world’s best martini. Beyond the hallowed walls of Dukes’ Bar, there are quietly contemporary touches in the Champagne Lounge, furnished in pale green and pink, while chic, unfussy rooms mix pale palettes with bright accents and dark antique furniture.
For sheer theatricality, it’s hard to beat the glittering Ritz, opened by César Ritz in 1909. The legendary Palm Court, where afternoon tea is served, has a conservatory ceiling, gold statues and chandeliers. The Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant is a riot of murals, gilt, ceiling frescoes, statues and drapes. Guestrooms have toned-down versions of this exuberant empire style decor, with pale colours and drapes. A dress code (jacket and tie for men for Palm Court tea and the Ritz restaurant) ensures the guests match the look.
The Sofitel brand has made the most of the grandeur of this former bank building, and added some French verve of its own. So the imposing double-height Balcon restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows, has twin curvy spiral staircases at one end giving access to a bottle cabinet. In contrast, the feminine Rose Room, where tea is served, has soft red sofas and flowery lamps. Elegant guestrooms have Nespresso machines, iDock sound systems and Hermès bath products. All bathrooms have baths as well as showers.
Tucked away off St James’s Street, the Stafford combines a main house with the long, two-storey Carriage House, in former stables, with rooms in English country style, with wooden beams and fireplaces. Main house rooms – and the Mews Suites, in another building – are more elegantly contemporary-classic. All use a chic creamy-taupe palette. The Wine Cellar, used as an air-raid shelter in World War II, is now the setting for wine tastings and wine-pairing dinners. The American Bar is a lively jumble of memorabilia.
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