The St James' Court - A Taj Hotel, London – Scotland on Sunday Travel

Neighbouring Buckingham Palace, this hotel has a history stretching back 800 years.

The Courtyard of the St James' Court Hotel, London.
The Courtyard of the St James' Court Hotel, London.

When I first came to London at the age of 15, I did all the tourist stuff; Tower of London. Tick. Trafalgar Square. Tick. Buckingham Palace. Tick. Some 43 years on, I’ve now seen Buckingham Palace for a second time. I knew it was close by when I was booked into The St James' Court Hotel, but discovering just how close, still took me by surprise.

Nestled in the heart of London, there's a moment when you first walk into the St James' Court that you're forced to pause just to soak in the innate sense of calm that envelopes you.

It's a sense of belonging that comes accompanied by the sensation of stepping into a cinematic experience, the glittering reception, foyer and lounge areas reminiscent of the classic hotels of yesteryear seen in all the great movies of the past.

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Budget or Boutique

It’s a five star hotel in the heart of central London.

After a swift trip to London with LNER, I’ve arrive ahead of schedule, still I am instantly offered a glass of Champagne - though I opt for diet Coke - and sink into a plush sofa from where the check in procedure is completed.

Although I'm booked in for dinner, I shall have to forgo having just secured tickets for Moulin Rouge, one the hottest shows in town, which gives me a chance to check out the room service menu, opting for the chicken sandwich and fries to be served on my return. Often it's the simple things that fine hotels never quite conquer, however, I am served the most delicious three-tier toasted sandwich with tender chicken, tomato and cucumber, a fresh side salad and crisp, chunky fries along with a selection of condiments... but I'm jumping ahead.

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One of the 329 bedrooms at the St James' Court hotel.

By the time I've signed in my room is ready, but first I just enjoy my surroundings. The lobby lounge, dressed in rustic ochres, mirrors, polished wood panels and delicate vases, leads to The Hamptons Bar, where cocktails and discreet lighting make for an intimate experience. By contrast, the reception desk, which stretches the length of the lounge, is fronted by a glowing silver/grey strata panelling.

Room Service

My Classic Room is restfully decorated in a subdued lime green and silver, lifted by a hint of purple and the en-suite shower room large and airy. Check in from 2pm with check out by noon.

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Worth Getting Out of Bed For

An en-suite bathroom.

St James Court itself has a history stretching back 800 years. In Tudor times Queen Elizabeth I's treasurer Lord Dacre built small cottages known as the Emmanuel Almshouses on the site of the present hotel to house and educate 20 underprivileged children.

In 1897 one Major Pawley built the red brick townhouses which stand today and in 1902 became the St James’ Court Hotel, which now has 329 rooms.

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Sit in the courtyard behind the hotel and this history becomes almost palpable.

Step outside, turn left and find Buckingham Palace a few steps away. Cross Green Park on the other side of the Palace and you are just 20-30 minutes’ walk from Piccadilly and the West End.

The hotel foyer exudes an air of calm on arrival.

Wining and Dining

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In the morning a buffet breakfast has everything you would expect and a few international options, including curry and burrata.

For lunch and dinner, choose between the contemporary [email protected] where signature dishes 'pair popular flavours from around the globe together to spark curiosity', and the Michelin-starred Quilon, where Chef Sriram shares his passion for South-West coastal Indian cuisine.

Quilon has retained its Michelin star since 2008 and be warned, its mouth-watering a la carte menu, which suggests diners share dishes to 'fully appreciate the depth and breadth of our unique offering' comes sans prices. They also have a quirky beer tasting menu, two sharing, worth checking out.

Little Extras

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Refresh body and mind at the spa. A collaboration between the Taj award-winning spa brand Jiva and British lifestyle brand Temple Spa combines traditional Indian treatments and contemporary Mediterranean wellness philosophy. Guests also have use of the newly-renovated fitness centre with a free weights area and cardio machines.

The Hamptons Bar with its grand piano, is the ideal place to enjoy pre-dinner drinks before visiting one of the hotel's two restaurants, the contemporary [email protected] and Michelin-starred Quilon.

Guestbook Comments

Prices: Prices start from £225.

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The St James' Court - A Taj Hotel, 54 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF, (+44-20-78346655 https://www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk)

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