St Ermins, London

THE HOTEL: One of London’s most interesting hotels with long links to MI6 (once headquartered next door) and secret agents who used the hotel’s Caxton Bar. Summer 2012 saw the completion of an 18-month, £30million renovation which turned it into a four-star deluxe hotel with 290 rooms and 41 suites. It is a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

Hotels

THE CHECK-IN: On a cold February evening, St Ermin’s spacious lobby was warm and welcoming with plenty of sofas and easy chairs. Equally so was the check-in procedure that included an offer to book a table for dinner. For warmer weather, St Ermin’s offers a terrace overlooking the courtyard entrance and its immaculately tended gardens.

THE ROOM: As business was combined with leisure I had a family room, with two Queen beds plus a day bed and easy chair. The small entrance hall’s wardrobe included mini safe plus tea/coffee-making equipment. Room 614 came with a second wardrobe on the other side of the room, two tiled bathrooms (much bigger in most other rooms including, in some cases, walk-in showers) with bath/ shower, toilet, basin and mirror. The room had a work desk with power/data ports and nearby widescreen TV.

THE BUSINESS: A small business centre is just off the lobby on the ground floor with three computer terminals for guests’ use. There is free 256kb wifi throughout the hotel although for those who need greater bandwidth – 556kb – the hotel levies a charge of £12 per day. St Ermin’s has 15 high-tech meeting rooms plus the ballroom, Cloisters suites and the outdoor terrace. Delegate rates for meetings/ conferences start from £80 per person including VAT.

THE FACILITIES: There’s a gym on the first floor and a local spa is available. A limited number of parking spaces is available. Meals are served in the Caxton Grill while cocktails and informal meals are available in the Caxton Bar, also served on the terrace.

THE VERDICT: A beautiful and superbly renovated hotel a world away from the standardised group hotels, and oozing with associations to the world of espionage from the 1930s through WWII and beyond. All staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful.

THE DETAILS: St Ermin’s Hotel, 2 Caxton Street, London, SW1H 0QW. The lead-in price is £199 or from £349 for a family room, including VAT. See: www.sterminshotel.co.uk.

Reviewed by Alan Orbell (2013)