Arrival/Check-in: The doorman spotted me approaching on foot, luggage in tow, and immediately came over, took my bags and escorted me into the hotel. Even better, my requested early check-in was available. Although the bellman who escorted me to my room had asked if I had any questions, I later wished he had shown me how to operate the myriad knobs controlling the deep soaking tub with both handheld and rain showerheads. (29/30)
Guest Quarters: French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon’s décor blends British pomp with French chic, balances old-world English charm with nouveau-French vogue, and honors the 1923 building’s Neoclassical architecture and history — it’s owned by the Crown and most recently was occupied by a Lloyds bank.
Although not spacious, my superior-class room was comfortable, with a desk, a small sitting area and a big sash window that opened, allowing fresh air to circulate. It was decorated in light gray and moss green tones offset by black Art Deco-style furniture and vintage black-and-white photos of Paris and London. The room was outfitted with a high-definition flat-screen television with 110 channels and 80 movies, free broadband and WiFi Internet access, espresso machine and teakettle, iPod-docking clock radio and wonderful lighting. Slipping between the featherbed and duvet of Sofitel’s signature My Bed was like sinking into a supportive white cloud. I loved the reading lights on each side of the bed, which illuminated only a small reading area, allowing a bedmate to slumber in darkness. In the black-marble bath, the water pressure was strong, the temperature hot and the towels both fluffy and warm. The Hermès bath amenities added cachet; the lotion was missing when I checked in, but appeared at turn-down along with water and chocolates. (28/30)
Services/Amenities: I could have indulged in a traditional full British tea in the lovely Rose Lounge, where a harpist plays each afternoon, but I craved something similar and far simpler. The servers in the handsome St. James Bar seated me quickly and fulfilled my off-menu request with a perfect pot of tea and scones, accompanied by clotted cream and jam. Service is equally spot-on in the architecturally splendid Brasserie Roux, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tested the 24-hour room service by ordering the organic smoked salmon Benedict for breakfast, never an easy dish to prepare and one that suffers greatly if not served immediately. It arrived on the button at 6:30 a.m., hot with perfectly poached eggs topped with a lovely light Hollandaise. Paired with freshly squeezed orange juice, it was a heavenly way to start the day. The three-story So SPA features a private hammam, tea bar and spa butlers; and the small So FIT gym has a steam room, Technogym equipment and a multisensory Sha Chair incorporating sound and vibration. (40/40)
The Experience: The Sofitel London St. James earned its 5-star rating with stellar service and facilities, elegant décor and a city center location that put much of London at my feet. And I’m still dreaming of the tea and scones.
Total Score: 97/100
Sofitel London St. James
6 Waterloo Place
London SW1Y 4AN, United Kingdom
tel 44 20 7747 2200
Sofitel London St. James
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