Sabi Phagura visits the Conrad London St James
Not everyone is drawn to politics in the UK, and you may think Westminster in London is just brimming with politicians and political air. But take one look around the area, and you’ll find tourist hot spots like the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. And amidst this buzzing doorstep sits the five-star Conrad London St James hotel, offering a fantastic choice for the modern-day traveller.
The property’s 256 contemporary rooms and suites offer a great base to do a spot of sightseeing as well as to crash out for a weekend break. Light and airy from the moment you check in at reception to the bedrooms, it oozes modern day comforts. All have large marble bathrooms, a bathtub and walk-in rainforest showers. That’s exactly where I headed to, to relax and rejuvenate before I explored the hotel’s offerings during my stay.
Depending on which suite you are booked into, guests at the Conrad London St James can make use of the relaxing Executive Lounge or the Blue Bar which takes on the look of the traditional British pub. It offers locally-brewed craft beers and ales, an impressive selection of wines and spirits, and an ever-evolving cocktail list which clearly means one visit isn’t enough. And you can amuse yourself with the quirky caricature drawings of politicians both from yesteryear and the modern day. It’s worth going just to muse over them. The picture of London Mayor Boris Johnson depicts his larger-than-life personality incredibly well.
You can either have light food here at the bar, or venture into the Blue Boar restaurant for a more sophisticated three-course meal. Unlike the rest of the hotel, this eatery is dark and intimate with lower lighting. If you’re a fan of contemporary dining, you’re in luck. Head Chef, Rob Stephens, combines regional ingredients to deliver truly mouth-watering dishes in season. Most meats and freshly caught seafood come from the Devon and Cornwall coastline, while their beef is bought in from Aberdeen in Scotland.
As a fish fan, it’s always hard to resist scallops, and I knew I’d made the right choice when the dish arrived. They were impressively large and were accompanied with a cauliflower puree sprinkled with bacon. Those with bigger appetites can opt for a steak tartare, twice baked cheese soufflé, or the native blue lobster bisque. But if you’re looking to leave enough space for the main, then the soup of the day, chicory salad with walnuts and green salad would be more suitable.
One of the restaurant’s specialities is the ‘Bradley Smoker’. With these dishes which include home smoked Cornish mackerel and BBQ treacle cured home smoked salmon – chefs use a variety of different chips to bring delicate smoke and flavour to the food.
Other mains include a grill section where you can opt for a burger, rib eye steak, and veal which are all cooked in a charcoal fired oven which reaches temperatures of 500 degrees centigrade. But once again, I was bowled over by the fish menu and opted for the roast cod with roast artichokes and Roscoff onions. The dish was definitely on the large side, and the fish was cooked just right, and just flaked off. Prices for the starters start from £7, and the grills from £16.50, going right the way up to £70m and the fish and main plates start from £16. For the ultimate in dining, you can opt for their private room which is interestingly connected to the main restaurant via a floor-to-ceiling wine wall.
Another notable offering at the hotel is its afternoon tea option. Executive Pastry Chef Zoe Wager presents four seasonal and several limited edition afternoon teas, showcasing the changing flavours of the seasons.
The experience is enhanced by a live harpist performing classical interpretations of contemporary songs. Now that is what I call a brilliantly British afternoon tea!
Conrad London St James – How / Where
For more information on the Conrad London St James, or to make a reservation, visit http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/
Address: 22-28 Broadway, London SW1H 0BH, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 3301 8080
By Sabi Phagura