When you live on a small island, you have to spend a little more time getting to places than you otherwise would. When we lived in London, we lived a 15 minute drive from Paddington station. We used to grab an Uber or just a bus and be on the Heathrow Express before we knew it. Front door to check-in took less than an hour. And now they’ve introduced the new £5.50 advance Heathrow Express tickets, we would have been laughing. However, we do now live on Guernsey and it does now take a lot longer to get to Heathrow. Especially since we can only fly into Gatwick or London City. So last week, after the news that Rob needed to stay in London for work and I would need to pack for the both of us for a month and then fly to London laden with suitcases, we decided that it may be beneficial to do that on the Saturday and stay in a hotel. This was a last minute decision and we needed a last minute deal, so we used Hotwire.com.
As a very loyal Hotels.com
customer (their ‘buy 10 nights, get one free’ Welcome Rewards system is the best), it takes a lot for me to book elsewhere and sacrifice getting one step closer to a free night. However, when you can Hotwire
a 5* hotel in Mayfair/Piccadilly for less than £150/night, I can be swayed. Which is exactly what happened last Friday. Rob found a deal and we went for it. The only catch with Hotwire
is that you don’t know which hotel you are getting… But they do give you an example of a) the kinds of services it has and b) which properties other people have recently got when opting for the deal that you at looking at. We chose 5* Piccadilly for £135/night for 2nights – Rob needed somewhere to crash on Friday night too and your average 3* in London is that price. The hotel we got was the Sofitel London St James
right off Trafalgar Square and just down from Piccadilly.
The room was small (smaller than the picture) but sumptuous with dark with classic decoration, an impeccably Hermes-stocked bathroom and a luxuriously comfortable bed. The kind you want to spend all day in. We unfortunately didn’t have that luxury as we had to be up and out on Sunday to pick up some final things and meet a friend in Soho for dim sum.
The mini bar was expensive, shockingly so – we are talking £3.50 for a cereal bar and £8 for a bar of chocolate. This is to be expected for a hotel of this quality and that is the price you pay (literally!) for grabbing a deal, so I just chose to leave the fridge intact. An espresso machine, a good tea selection, quality robes and daily newspapers were all also wonderfully nice touches.
Sofitel London St James is just down the road from Piccadilly Circus, right by the Strand, Trafalgar Square and within easy walking distance of Green Park and Covent Garden. We met a friend for lunch in Chinatown (Plum Valley
) which was a few minutes walk away. Obviously we picked the hotel based on its location (as we didn’t know much else using Hotwire) and we were thrilled with where it was for what we needed to do, including get to Heathrow the next day.
The Bar & Restaurant
Our obsession with Chipotle
knows no bounds – especially now we live on an island where many people don’t know what it is, so we didn’t actually try out the restaurant and rather grabbed a burrito bowl whilst out late-night shopping, but we did check out the bar when we got back. St James’ Bar
in the hotel is inspired by Coco Chanel’s 1920’s Paris apartment. It’s pricy, but not scarily so. And the service and snacks are impeccable. We had a great selection of savoury spicy snacks with our drinks and then were brought the most exquisite handmade truffles that I thought I had died and gone to chocolate heaven. Want a full idea of price? For 3 glasses of red wine and 3 cocktails (two Old Fashioned
s and an Espresso Martini
) plus service came to £99, an average of £16.50 a drink.
I wish we’d had time to do more than just stick our noses into the spa and the gym. The gym looked like a great place to get a quick workout in. The spa had some great packages. If I hadn’t have been headed for lunch, my day would have probably started with a workout followed by some time in the sauna & steam room before heading for a massage. That’s my ideal pre-flight day (& post-flight day come to think of it!)
Everything is done with a touch of class and a smile. Many of the staff will speak French before English to you but switch very quickly to your preferred language. As a linguist, I’m always hugely impressed by this and it made me kinda just wanted to speak French to them, but that seemed a bit silly in central London so do not worry, I did refrain.
Would I recommend this hotel? Absolutely. Would I personally stay at the Sofitel London St James again? Yes. And then I’d be able to put that gym & spa to good use too! Would I use Hotwire again? Absolutely – in a heartbeat.
Sofitel London St James
6 Waterloo Place
Disclaimer: I didn’t take any photos of the room as Rob arrived the day before me and we need the room to completely repack for our trip. (READ: Complete disarray and not photo-worthy!) These pictures are from the Sofitel Website.