Simon Wittenberg stays at the luxurious Taj-owned St James’ Court hotel in the heart of London to sample the property’s latest “Summer in the City” offering.
When you hear the phrase “summer in the city”, it conjures up a picture of warm sunshine, refreshing cocktails, and of course, plenty of time to relax and watch the world go by. St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, a luxury property near to St James’s Park in Central London, has drawn inspiration from these four words for their latest campaign to entice guests into their Courtyard, and to offer discounts on accommodation and their Jiva Spa up until 25th September.
Surrounded by eight red brick townhouses, which date back more than a century, and which today make up the 329-bedroom St James’ Court hotel and the adjacent Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, the Courtyard is an inner sanctuary where visitors can marvel at the ornate central fountain – home to some goldfish and a splattering of coins, and unwind amongst the historic and architecturally-impressive buildings.
To have a sizeable outdoor area away from the daily hustle and bustle is a rare find in the heart of the capital, where every square foot comes at a premium. It, therefore, makes perfect sense for the hotel to take advantage of this space by launching different themed initiatives.
The “Summer in the City” offering sees guests treated to two refreshing delights, which come at an additional cost to a stay at St James’ Court.
The first takes the form of homemade ice lollies, which are available seven days a week from midday onwards.
There are a couple of flavours to choose from, namely gin and tonic (£4.50), and a non-alcoholic, child-friendly fresh orange (£4).
The real headline of this campaign is the free-flowing Tanqueray-branded Negroni fountain, situated adjacent to the [email protected] glass-fronted restaurant, which overlooks the Courtyard. Negroni is a red-tinted cocktail which was first made in the 1860s in the Italian city of Milan and is comprised of gin (hence the Tanqueray element), Martini Rosso Vermouth and Campari; all finished with a touch of orange garnish.
For £19, you are bestowed the privilege of unlimited repeat visits to the fountain between 5 pm and 6 pm (the hotel’s daily “Aperitivo hour”), after taking a glass, a few ice cubes, and an orange segment from the small awaiting table.
Alternatively, as I did, you can leave it to one of the hosts to make up the cocktail for you and enjoy the fanfare of your beverage coming to life in front of your very eyes.
The result is a fairly strong concoction with a slightly bitter edge, but on a warm summer’s day, as we experienced, it was a cool and welcomed aperitif and the perfect accompaniment to a small bowl of nibbles. For those after something alcohol-free, there are mocktails on the menu, and we had the opportunity to sample the tangy, but delightful “Sunny Spritz” (£13), concocted from guava, lime and ginger ale.
There is, of course, the option to grab a bite for dinner at [email protected] to follow on from the cocktails, with the restaurant serving Indian-style cuisine. Alternatively, if you are looking to venture beyond the confines of St James’ Court for dinner, as we did, there are plenty of independent and chain-owned eateries on Victoria Street just a short walk away.
As well as spending time in the Courtyard, we also had the chance to enjoy an overnight stay on a Friday night at this Taj-branded hotel, which is conveniently located close to Buckingham Palace, the River Thames, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, amongst other popular attractions.
There are three main classifications of rooms at St James’ Court, which are Classic, Executive and Premium. We sampled a spacious 30 square-metre Premium King Room (costing from £404 a night) on the top and eighth floor of the townhouse hosting the Jiva Spa. With our room at the end of the corridor, it was nice and quiet, meaning it was shielded from any passing footfall and looked inwards away from any traffic.
The tastefully-appointed Premium King Room is ideal for a small family, and if travelling with little ones, there’s plenty of floor space for a cot, which can be supplied on request. Room 850 was a haven of comfort thanks to the large king-sized bed furnished with plenty of pillows and cushions, a selection of seating and tables, and the necessary amenities to make a hot drink.
In the large grey-tiled ensuite bathroom, complete with volume controls and speakers linked to the sizeable wall-mounted flatscreen TV facing the bed, there was no bath, but in its place was a walk-in rain shower which came with a generous helping of nicely-scented toiletries from Temple Spa.
Breakfast on a Saturday morning is available at the [email protected] restaurant from 7 am to 11 am, and when the weather permits, there is the option of sitting al fresco in the Courtyard, although tables are situated further away from the buffet if you like to top up regularly. When we ventured down around eight o’clock, it was already quite full inside, so it’s definitely a case of earlier the better at this eatery.
Entering with high expectations after reading the numerous positive reviews of breakfast posted by previous guests online, the selection of dishes available, which ranged from fresh fruit, salad, pastries and cheese, to Indian delicacies, was more than adequate and nicely presented.
However, the ingredients seemed to be a touch on the cheap side, and didn’t ooze the quality that you would expect from a property of this calibre, and did not reflect the amount you pay per night.
Furthermore, the hot food put out for guests to serve themselves was lukewarm at best due to not being under heated lamps, and both the hot chocolate and tomato juice were a touch watery. With that being said, it doesn’t take away from what was a pleasant start to the day, and there was certainly no chance of going hungry.
Overall, St James’ Court is a hotel where warm and welcoming hospitality is in abundance and somewhere staff will do whatever it takes to help you have an enjoyable stay. And, with the added bonus of a free-flowing cocktail fountain to feel even more refreshed and relaxed, this Taj destination has made summer in London even more memorable.
St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, London – Where and How?
St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, is located at 54 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6AF, United Kingdom. For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk.
See photos and a video of our visit on the Luxurious Magazine Instagram page.
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