Lux­ury in the heart of West­min­ster

MARK LUNDRIGAN vis­its a five-star ho­tel that is the jewel in West­min­ster’s crown – the Conrad Lon­don St James

Harefield Gazette - - LEISURE -

HID­DEN away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of tourist-filled West­min­ster is one of the city’s top lux­ury ho­tels, the Conrad Lon­don St James.

Lo­cated just out­side St James Park tube sta­tion, and with the Houses of Par­lia­ment, Buck­ing­ham Palace and the South­bank all just a stroll away, the five-star ho­tel is a per­fect lo­ca­tion for a break in the city.

The 19th cen­tury build­ing was once a war-time res­i­dence for lob­by­ists and civil ser­vants and there are plenty of re­minders of its po­lit­i­cal links through­out, with mod­ern works of art of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive pic­ture of past and present politi­cians.

One cre­ation that im­me­di­ately catches the eye in the pris­tine lobby is a huge metal arena filled with mod­els of he­roes and vil­lains from cin­ema in a scene rem­i­nis­cent of a ses­sion at the House of Com­mons.

There are 256 guest rooms and suites in the Conrad St James and my wife and I stayed in a King Ju­nior Suite, a lux­u­ri­ous, con­tem­po­rary de­sign com­plete with 360-de­gree swivel HDTV and all the other ameni­ties you would ex­pect of such a ho­tel (plenty of toi­letries, Ne­spresso ma­chine and com­pli­men­tary wifi).

The mar­ble-cov­ered bath­room is im­mac­u­late with a rain­for­est shower (as well as a sep­a­rate bath tub) and Bose ceil­ing speaker with vol­ume con­trol con­nected to the TV, so you can lis­ten to your favourite pro­gramme or mu­sic while tak­ing a soak.

The bed is also lux­u­ri­ous, with soft Egyp­tian cot­ton sheets adding to the com­fort.

The beauty of stay­ing in a suite at Conrad St James is ac­cess to the Ex­ec­u­tive Lounge on the first floor. Us­ing your key­card to en­ter, you can en­joy top-class com­pli­men­tary food and drinks (in­clud­ing al­co­hol). We stopped by an hour be­fore we were due to dine at the ho­tel’s restau­rant, but we wished we had vis­ited be­fore.

The com­fort­able lounge is a per­fect way to wind down, with beau­ti­ful hot food served from the ad­join­ing kitchen.

Suc­cu­lent con­fit duck legs and fish gou­jons were on the menu, but you could also take mini sal­ads as well as snacks like can­died nuts.

We had to rein in the temp­ta­tion to eat too much as we had din­ner booked at the Blue Boar, which is con­nected to the ho­tel at the ground floor.

The restau­rant’s mod­ern wood and black in­te­rior per­fectly com­pli­ments the re­laxed at­mos­phere of the main din­ing room (there is also a bar ad­ja­cent) and its min­i­mal­ist decor is off­set by more works of mod­ern art por­tray­ing fa­mous politi­cians.

For starters I opted for a vege­tar­ian dish, en­ticed by the chargrilled as­para­gus, which came with a poached duck egg on top that pro­vided its own lux­ury sauce when bro­ken. This, when min­gled with the truf­fle hol­landaise, tasted like heaven.

My wife loved her scal­lops, with the gar­nishes of pea, cauliflower and ba­con the per­fect bed­fel­lows.

For main we had to try their Josper Grill steaks.

The restau­rant prides it­self on the grill and it did not dis­ap­point, with our medium-rare rib-eye and fil­let steaks juicy and as ten­der as they pos­si­bly could be.

There are a num­ber of side dishes avail­able, but our stand­out were the spiced onion rings – I could have eaten them all night.

Desserts came rec­om­mended with their own wines and it is wise to take the ad­vice.

My peanut but­ter and cho­co­late dish was very rich, but ac­com­pa­nied with a vin­tage port, it was amaz­ing.

Like­wise my wife’s sticky tof­fee pud­ding with hon­ey­comb ice cream - her glass of San­de­man cut through the sweet­ness like a knife.

Af­ter three cour­ses of amaz­ing food, we popped into the bar where comfy so­fas wel­comed us with open arms and a few night­caps were the per­fect way to end the day.

Af­ter a very com­fort­able night’s sleep, we re­turned to the Blue Boar for a de­li­cious buf­fet break­fast, al­though the ex­ec­u­tive lounge also pro­vides hot food, pas­tries and hot drinks.

De­part­ing the ho­tel, re­laxed and full with beau­ti­ful food, it’s easy to for­get you are just around the cor­ner from some of the city’s big­gest tourist at­trac­tions, but a night at the Conrad St James pro­vides you with re­newed vigour with which to join the throng.

For de­tails of prices at the Conrad Lon­don St James, visit http:// con­rad­ho­tels3.hil­ton.com/.

n LUX­URY: Top Top, the re­lax­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Lounge; above above, the Blue Boar restau­rant; be­low be­low, the King Ju­nior Suite, be­low left, the grand en­trance to the Conrad Lon­don St James

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