March 1, 2024

Conrad London St. James

A competitively-priced and classy hotel that's small enough to feel intimate, welcoming and almost 'boutiquey"

THE HOTEL: This five-star 256-room Hilton property is housed in the former Queen Anne’s Chambers, a 19th-century building. Although right opposite St James Tube Station, in the heart of Westminster, the location is away from the main streets in a relatively quiet area.

COVID STRATEGY: The Conrad follows Hilton’s CleanStay programme, which provides enhanced training for staff, increased cleaning of public areas and an adjusted food and beverage service. The Hilton Honors app can be used to check in, choose your room, and opt in for a digital key. Housekeeping is available by request. Tables with hand sanitizers are located outside the lift doors on each floor.

THE CHECK-IN: The reception area is large, bright, airy and attractive, and sunshine poured in through the angular skylight. Two members of staff were working the desks and I was welcomed with a warm smile. There’s a mesmerising art centrepiece, The Ladder to Bronze by Tom Clark, which apparently represents power in the hands of the people – a nice reference to the hotel’s proximity to the decision-makers in Westminster.

THE ROOM: I was in a King Deluxe Room (604) which although a little on the smallish side for the name of the room category made excellent use of the space and was very comfortable. The king-sized bed had ultra-comfortable Egyptian cotton bedding. I slept soundly as the room was insulated and quiet. The lighting is custom controlled and there was a good-sized worktable along with abundant power and USB points. A 42-inch HDTV satellite TV, with Chromecast, was built into a large LCD panel in the wall and featured a media hub to check emails and local services. The marble-furnished bathroom was very spacious, with a separate bathtub, an inviting walk-in rain shower and Shanghai Tang toiletries. There was a Nespresso machine with plenty of coffee pods and a choice of Hope + Glory t-bags. My eyes kept being drawn to a watercolour, ‘Corridors of Power’ by Jonathan Bray, a London-based artist. One word of warning: the gently sloping wall angles by the window aren’t immediately obvious – I twice knocked my head whilst sitting into the chair by the window!

King Deluxe Room

THE BUSINESS: There are seven meeting rooms of various sizes on the bottom floor. The venues are equipped with state-of-the-art A/V technology and offer space for up to 120 guests, with meeting packages available, including stationery and working lunches. The Daily Delegate Package is £89 incl. VAT per person (minimum number 15 people). There’s complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. I checked out the Executive Lounge on the top floor, which looked great if you have the right status and access.

THE FACILITIES: These revolve mainly around the four newish dining/drinking faculties, which are excellent and top-class. The Hedgerow, a large bar that is located up a few stairs behind the lobby, features a marbled bar with cosy lounge chairs, sofas and cushions. A cocktail list is inspired by British botanicals. It also serves afternoon tea. The Pem is a premier restaurant decked out in reds and pinks and with an art Deco feel. I ate in the Blue Boar pub, which is a fabulous attempt at recreating a classic London pub. It even serves a Sunday roast. I was impressed by my devilled whitebait starter and sea trout main course. The wine list and range of craft beers were excellent, as were the staff who were helpful and attentive but not over-bearing. And with tables nicely socially-distanced, the entire experience was spot on. The breakfast was also impressive: an à la carte menu, as well as the buffet with an excellent choice of fruits, breads and cooked food – and excellent service once more. A small gym, with three running machines, stationary bikes, a few muscle-building machines and free water is on the bottom floor.

THE VERDICT: This is a competitively-priced and classy hotel that’s small enough to feel intimate, welcoming and almost ’boutiquey”. The service and staff were impeccable and I liked the dark-wood panelling and spectacular living gallery of artwork throughout the hotel. The location is perfect – a 10-minute walk from Victoria Station and steps away from a Tube Station – and the Blue Boar pub, with its top-class cuisine and a lively vibe, is a place return to time and time again, even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

THE DETAILS: 22-28 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BH, Tel: 020 3301 8080; A King Deluxe Room starts from £288 for a midweek stay in January 2022.

Steve Hartridge