St Ermin’s Hotel has been very busy during lockdown this year. The four-star deluxe hotel – part of the Autograph Collection – had a £30 million renovation, which has resulted in a distinctly individual and contemporary look, as well as becoming London’s only ‘Bee & Bee’ hotel thanks to the hotel’s resident Buckfast bee hives on the third floor wildflower terrace. When you couple this with their amazing history of espionage (the hotel is the only publicly accessible establishment in London closely associated with this, particularly the British intelligence services through WWII and the Cold War), you have quite a remarkable stay to look forward to.
Just a five-minute walk across St James’s Park to Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly, the design of the historic hotel combines grade II listed architecture with evocative Art Nouveau styling, Rococo plasterwork, awe-inspiring, theatrical balcony in the lobby (the original St. Ermin’s interiors were designed by the famous British theatrical designer, J. P. Briggs c1900) and contemporary pieces. This is all thanks to LA-based designer, Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studio, who was influenced and inspired by the history of the building, the English great house style and London’s status as an international crossroads. Lee also took inspiration from Christopher Dresser, a visionary 19th century British botanist and designer who was influential around the time St Ermin’s was built, as plants, flowers and leaves appear throughout.
St Ermin’s Hotel has also re-launched their award-winning signature restaurant, Caxton Grill. They now boast new interiors as well as a new menu from head chef, Alexander Boyd; the menu features an abundance of organic herbs, vegetables, salad and fruit harvested from the hotel’s rooftop kitchen garden, so it’s as local, fresh and seasonal as you can get.
The talented Boyd is no stranger to high profile clients having previously worked as Executive Head Chef at The Mansion House, official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, whose guests have included the Royal Family.
Working closely with local suppliers, Boyd sources the best 35-day dry aged British beef alongside fresh, sustainably caught fish and then cooks fast at very high temperatures using a Josper oven, which retains moisture and adds a hint of smokiness. I can testify having sampled (and loved) Boyd’s Harissa marinated chicken thighs and 8 oz rib-eye steak.
The Westminster-based hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Whitehall, Big Ben, Parliament Square, The Cabinet War Rooms, and New Scotland Yard and it’s these famous landmarks that contribute to the legendary history of St Ermin’s. During the 1930s the hotel and the next building were used by officers of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) located close by. The likes of Ian Fleming, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Laurence Grand, H. Montgomery Hyde and Eric Maschwitz were all known to have worked from the building and throughout the Second World War, it operated as a convenient annex by SIS surrounded by other secret organisations.
In addition, the hotel’s Caxton Bar was used regularly by SIS, MI5 and Naval Intelligence Division case officers to meet their agents. Even a certain Winston Churchill used to like stopping by for a whisky… speaking of whom, in 1940, Churchill asked a group of individuals that were later to become the SOE to “set Europe ablaze” and they initially housed themselves over an entire floor of the hotel.
Afternoon Tea here is also the stuff of legend, served every afternoon in the beautiful, elegant first floor mezzanine Tea Lounge. The latest offering on the seasonal menu is ‘Honey Afternoon Tea’, which can be enjoyed any occasion.
St Ermin’s Hotel boasts 331 rooms, including 41 suites, and now that the famous London hotel has reopened the city is indeed calling.
London Calling from £175
* Accomm & Breakfast
* 1 Bottle of Champagne per stay
* 1 x Jar of St Ermin’s Honey
* Late Checkout (3pm)
* Dogs stay free (up to 2 dogs per room)
The booking and stay window for the London Calling package is 19 Dec 2020 – 31 Mar 2021. For more information, visit www.sterminshotel.co.uk