Following an imaginative and flamboyant 2019 renovation courtesy of Pierre-Yves Rochon, the Sofitel London St James invites guests to experience the French savoir vivre, sophisticated gastronomy and an award-magnet of a spa.
We couldn’t quite believe just how relaxed one could feel a mere two minutes walking from London’s beating heart, Piccadilly Circus, as we sank into a heated massage table at Sofitel Spa, a three-floor luxury wellness retreat at the Sofitel St James London. Our treatment had been highly customised, from the scents that filled the room to the music that helped us drift off into a state of zen as our therapist kneaded those nasty tensions from a day of retail therapy right out of our shoulders. But the rose-coloured marble spa with its Corinthian columns and indulgent menu (the Martini and Manicure is a must) is only half the story when it comes to the French-run five-star hotel.
Our stay had commenced with a convivial ‘Bonjour, ça va’ in the lobby, home to specially commissioned artworks and a show-stopping 3m high glass wall detailing the Grade II-listed, neoclassical building’s fascinating history. Up a few floors and down a perfumed hallway, our Premium Luxury Room beckoned with whimsical design elements, pop art pieces and what must’ve been fifty shades of blue spread across its walls, furniture and the floor – ours was a British tartan pattern in vivid Royal azure. It’s a buoyant aesthetic spearheaded by Pierre-Yves Rochon, who contemporised the 2002-opened Sofitel in 2019, paying homage both to 1960s London as well as French savoir vivre. Our favourite bit, no doubt, was the original Pierre Paulin mushroom chair, a furniture design icon, placed perfectly for us to look out the window and watch the goings-on on the adjacent Waterloo Place and Pall Mall – talk about a privileged location.
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|While you’re Out There|
|You’re around the corner from legendary Jermyn Street, with the 1730-opened Floris, which produces the incomparable No. 89 – the favourite fragrance of Ian Fleming and his best-known fictional character, James Bond – as well as Turnbull & Asser, tailors to Obama and Sylvester Stallone (ask staff about a hilarious fitting session with the latter… we were sworn into secrecy!).|
When we weren’t busy painting the town red or customising our King size bed through Sofitel’s signature MyBed program (not necessarily in this order), we used every opportunity we got to try the hotel’s lively Wild Honey restaurant. A former Mayfair institution, the eatery has recently moved into the Sofitel as a collaboration between head chef Simon Woodrow and Wild Honey originator Anthony Demetre. Having checked in with a fellow herbivore, we were a little wary at first about how a French fine dining experience might interpret the word ‘plant-based’, but – mon Dieu! – did we enjoy our slow-cooked aubergines with warm freekeh, cavolo nero and heritage tomato salad.
Whatever you order, do treat yourself to a bottle of the red Trinités, a wine from the Faugères region that imbued our palate in heady notes of leather and oak. And never mind the toxins – we felt like there was no malaise the Sofitel Spa couldn’t fix later, with its very own, playful menu of starters, mains and desserts. Bon appétit, indeed.
Photography courtesy of Sofitel Hotels & Resorts