HOTEL OF THE WEEK ST ERMIN’S LONDON
IT SEEMS Saint Ermin of Lobbes was a man of wisdom and sanctity. Rather fitting then that I happened to be visiting St. Ermin’s Hotel on his Saint Day. Even more apt, it was at once the preferred meeting place for top British secret service types including SIS and MI5, who are pretty wise themselves.
So, striding into the white Art Nouveau lobby, I was expecting to see a few shady characters peering down from the ornate balconies above. My senses were on full alert. Was that a real concierge or a just someone pretending?
I just give out my name rank and serial number, and get a delightful smile from reception staff who have, no doubt, heard it all before.
St. Ermin’s is a gem of a luxury hotel tucked away in a horseshoe-shaped Grade II listed mansion in St. James Park.
Each of the 330 guest rooms and suites are different; a legacy of 19th century architecture; the shape, the light, the views. But that’s where the past rightfully pauses to allow the future to take centre stage.
Elegantly modern soft furnishings and textures, crisp linens on generously sized beds, White Company toiletries in beautiful marbled bathrooms, free wifi and Nespresso coffees. There are also large flat screen TVs and, thankfully, an array of multinational power sockets.
You can enjoy an afternoon tea on the mezzanine balcony or in the tea lounge, or if the weather is kind, out on the terrace overlooking the carriageway courtyard entrance. And you can enjoy the honey from the hotel’s own bee colony up on the roof, and perhaps take in a bee workshop.
You might get a little frisson visiting the Caxton Bar, where it is said Kim Philby handed over secrets to his Russian handler. Head Chef Adam Handling, finalist in Britain’s Professional Master Chef TV series, conjures up unusual combinations of flavours and textures.
Yes, I’m a fan. But then again, when there are secrets and spies about, it pays to stay on the right side. As I depart I cast a glance at that concierge again, convinced he gave me a knowing wink. RATES: Superior room £209 www.sterminshotel.co.uk
White Art Nouveau lobby within a horseshoe-shaped mansion