The Sofitel London St. James, located near Pall Mall and lower Regent Street is a hotel I know quite well. I have visited many times, as I absolutely adore its bar (and the French accents don’t hurt either). After so many social calls, it was time to call it a night – literally! So I was delighted to make a recent visit to London even more special by enjoying afternoon tea with two very good friends and spending the night at the Sofitel.
– Was there any pre-arrival communication by the hotel with myself via email or social media?
It is like we are old friends – every now and then we tweet back and forth, especially when I drop by the bar for a glass of champagne or three. Obviously, this time round was no exception.
– Did I try to engage the hotel via Twitter? Did the hotel interact with me and made me feel welcome/special?
– Has the hotel tried to gather any personal information (e.g. preferences) prior to my stay?
Not really, but then again, the Sofitel knows me (I have stayed recently in Amsterdam, Berlin, Lisbon and Lyon).
– The wow factor! What was the hotel decor style?
I love the outside of the hotel and entering it is quite something. Why? Because it is nice and cozy – and I don’t mean this in a negative way. I didn’t get my “Bonjour, Madame” at the door, but got plenty from everyone I saw at the hotel. I think it is a lovely touch and something unique by this chain.
The decor of the London hotel is great. Think 1920-30s – rich colours, a lot of contrasts and a certain je ne sais quoi. Very chic indeed. And not in your face, which I quite like (hence why I visit the bar with friends quite often).
– How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?
It was very quick and efficient. My room wasn’t ready yet, which wasn’t a problem, so I took the time to have a look around areas I don’t normally see as a bar guest, like the spa. Note to self: must return as it was wonderful (or looked wonderful).
– Was I addressed by name once reservation has been located? (it is all about the small details, some others are outstanding with this, and I love it, like I do when I board an airplane)
Oui oui oui. And pronounce my surname in French and I get weak in the knees (obviously because the gentleman who checked me in was French – and do note that one does not need to be French to work at this hotel).
– Did I get an upgrade from my confirmed pre-booked room type?
No. The hotel was very busy and this booking was really last-minute so I had a standard room.
– Did I feel genuinely welcomed by the hotel staff?
– Luggage – how many people did I have to tip before the luggage made it safely to my room? This is cultural, I know
As my room wasn’t ready, the reception team kept it and said it would be in my room. Which it was (and not really a surprise).
– Wi-fi – was I told anything about it? Was there a charge?
WiFi is free at all Sofitel hotels and worked well.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
The room was very nice. I can’t fault it in any way. The decor has been updated recently and we had everything we needed for a night (or more).
– Welcome amenity
I had some handmade chocolates which were delicious. And plenty of water.
– The bed
I had *ze* bed (read with French accent). And ze bed was very very good. I love the Sofitel beds and soon I am going to cave and order the pillows. Because they are that good (I am saying the pillows only as I don’t think Mr. O will want us to get a new bed. Yet.)
– Closet/Wardrobe – proper hangers or those annoying ones where you need a PhD to get them out one by one? This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand them.
Obviously this hotel does not think I am going to steal their hangers. And we had plenty.
– Iphone Charger/Dock
I didn’t notice it (and must start getting back to this as I have now moved to iPhone 5 and made my peace with the fact that I will have to wait a while until every hotel in the world upgrades).
– Bathrobes and slippers
Mais oui, but I didn’t use.
– Coffee and Tea
To be honest, I didn’t check this time but would assume so. I will confirm and update this bit.
– Free bottled water
– Magazine selection – had some nice surprises and doesn’t happen often enough!
Nothing special this time around.
– Power sockets in useful places – we have more and more devices and we know where we want them! By the bed, by the working area.
We didn’t have a problem charging our devices, and even found a plug by the bed, which is always a nice bonus.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
The bathroom wasn’t huge, but was very well-appointed.
– Bath, shower and taps – I am looking for Duravits and Hansgrohes (or other fab brands) around the world. How fab was the shower? And a little pet peeve.. was I able to operate the shower without asking Mr. O for help?
We had a bath and a shower, which was quite good.
– Towels – yes, please! How many and how soft and lovely?
Plenty and actually lovely.
– Toiletries – own brand, super brand, baby ones or proper ones? I shall find out!
This time around, we had Hermes in small sizes. Always a classic (although I don’t love the conditioner).
– Amenity kit – I don’t want more sewing kits thank you very much, but I will need a shower cap.
One thing the Sofitel does extremely well is this – and they are also really good at “concealing” the vanity items (which is a good thing). I like all the containers which keep the bathroom always nice and tidy.
– Hairdryer – is it a human one, or just something stuck to a wall that only makes noise?
There was a proper hairdryer which I didn’t use.
This time around, I got to try Sofitel’s version of the traditional afternoon tea. I liked *ze* twist.. lychee champagne cocktails (seriously, are you kidding me? These need to be on the normal hotel menu), which at £7.00 extra, was extremely good value. The sandwiches were lovely and I fell in love again with Bombai Chai (I think I may have had 4 cups, I am sorry). The scones were fab but we couldn’t get to *ze* pastries. It was a little bit too much, but they looked amazing.
I have said it once, and I will say it again. I love the St. James bar and that means I visit it quite often with friends or business associates for a cocktail or three. Obviously we had to try the cocktails again just to see if the quality remained. Magnifique, said Mr. O. I didn’t disagree. In all seriousness, the cocktail and champagne list is outstanding and so are the nibbles. And if you are lucky, you get to hear a bit of French, which is lovely.
Breakfast is also one of Sofitel’s strongest points – at least for me, who originally comes from Portugal and our breakfast is pretty much the same as the French. When I am at a Sofitel, I know that the pastries will be incredible, the bread.. well… will be proper bread. But the piece of resistance? I may get lucky and have a chausson aux pommes which is one of my favourite things in life. And guess what? I did! Continental breakfast costs £16.95.
Needless to say that there was a full buffet and items could also be ordered a la carte. PS. And isn’t the room beautiful?
– How good and reliable was the wi-fi?
Quite good when I tried to use it. As I am in my home country, I didn’t need it on my phone, just on my ipad.
– Did the hotel interact with me via Twitter during my stay?
Not really, but they did the next morning.
At the heart of St. James, at the corner of Waterloo Place and Pall Mall. A really good location for me (and my London life).
– Cost – rooms starting from…
Rooms start at £275 per night.
– Would I recommend it to my best friend?
Absolutement! She did enjoy afternoon tea with me and is also a fan of *ze* bar.
– Would I stay again?
Yes, without a doubt.
Have you visited this hotel? What were your thoughts?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Sofitel during this stay, but hopefully you will see that this has not influenced my thoughts about the property. For more information about the hotel, visit its official website.