The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - ANDY MOSSACK

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

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