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Girl About Sussex Review – St Ermin’s Hotel London

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I have lived in, worked in and commuted to London over the last 17 years of my career and this has been the longest time I haven’t ventured to the Big Smoke – seven whole months! I have been to many events at the multi-award-winning St Ermin’s Hotel in central London, near St James’ Park, but I have neither eaten there or seen a room, so I was so delighted when my husband and I were asked to come and check it out.

Sitting on an empty train from Haywards Heath (West Sussex), in our masks, it felt like I was going to London for the first time. I was a little apprehensive but honestly just more excited for the change of scenery and a puppy free date night!

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The St Ermin’s Hotel has a glamourous past and a colourful history, used by the Secret Intelligence Service (M16) in the 1930s and then throughout World War II and the Cold War by secret British Intelligence organisations. It’s located just a stone’s throw away from Whitehall, Big Ben, Parliament Square, The Cabinet War Rooms and New Scotland Yard. We arrived at London Victoria Station and it was just a seven-minute leisurely stroll to the hotel. London was very peaceful and there were enough people for it to not feel eerie, but still not as many people as I am used to seeing charging around.

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The entrance way to the hotel is stately and majestic, tropical plants and lights illuminate the path up. Signage was clear, there was one door for the entrance and one for the exit. As we entered, we were instantly struck by the grandeur of the theatrical balcony and magnificent staircase. The décor combines grade II listed architecture with Art Noveau styling, originally designed by British theatrical designer J.P. Briggs. Handpicked antiques and collectables line the lobby and I was instantly enamoured by the lamp with brass duck legs!

Check-in was smooth and within minutes we were heading to our room, having been fully briefed on all their social distancing procedures. The hotel boasts 331 spacious rooms and 41 suites, all individually designed to evoke calm and relaxation. We were lucky enough to be staying in a junior suite, which has the latest technology merged with unique, innovative Louis Vuitton style furniture. The suite was spacious and even had two bathrooms with large walk-in showers, a lounge area and a dining table. One of the first things I always do is check the coffee facilities – I was pleased to see there was Nespresso machine and we were provided with plenty of pods! The two-poster bed was spectacular, with crisp White Company linen sheets. Every part of me just wanted to lay down on it but I knew if I did, I just wouldn’t get up and we had a lot to explore.

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In walking to our suite, we passed the Bee Hotel, home to over 350,000 good tempered bees – all safely behind glass! Even the bees are treated like royalty here and there are special hexagonal suites with bamboo nesting areas, where they can go about their business making honey. The pot of honey we got in our room suddenly made sense! The hotel even serves a special ‘Honey Afternoon Tea’ every September.

We walked through the lobby again – which took a while as we stopped to observe all the artefacts including the Houses of Parliament Division Bell which is connected to the House of Commons and rings to call MPs back to vote – and up the staircase to the outside bar, all under a canopy and with heating. We were one of three couples there, so it was quiet and cosy, the rain only added to the ambiance. The cocktail menu was very impressive; I chose the French-75 – my new favourite cocktail consisting of champagne, gin and lemon juice – whilst my husband decided to live out his James Bond fantasy – why not, we were in the home of espionage after all – and ordered his first ever vodka martini, shaken not stirred! The sun was setting, and we felt completely chilled out for the first time in what seemed like forever.

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After our cocktail, we headed for a three-course dinner at Caxton Grill, which offers a mouth-watering collection of British dishes, made from fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients from the hotel’s own Roof Kitchen Garden. The menu has been specially prepared to offer guests the balance of food from the land, the sea and the garden.

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Unusually, my husband I both chose the same courses – cured salmon on a courgette salad, with chilli and lemon dressing to start, followed by an 8-oz rib eye steak and we shared sides of buttered French beans and French fries. Service was impeccable and our waiter paired a delicious bottle of red from their extensive wine collection. The salmon was delicious, fresh and beautifully presented. The lemon and chilli dressing complemented it perfectly. The steak was cooked to perfection – medium – and the beans were heavenly.

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I’m not a ‘sweet’ person but the dessert was just as exquisite – lemon parfait, with blackberry, pistachio and meringue. The pistachios took away some of the sweetness of the parfait. I do believe that in life you should try new things and go for something you wouldn’t normally go for, and I think this is more important now more than ever before.

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After dinner, we went to the adjoining Caxton Bar for a night cap and we tried the signature cocktail, the Bowler Hat – Sipsmith gin, honey from the roof and level juice. We rolled back to our suite after that, and just before the 10 p.m. Covid-curfew.

Not that we needed it, but after a deep, dreamy sleep in the most comfortable bed ever, we were back in the Caxton Grill for breakfast. The salmon from the night before was so incredible that it tempted me again, this time in a bagel. My husband went for The English, two free-range eggs, British back bacon, Cumberland sausage, field mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, hash browns, black pudding and beans.

Even though I had visited St Ermin’s before, I was seeing it with new eyes and felt an even greater appreciation for our capital city. We felt totally safe and as we didn’t want to go on the tube, the fact the hotel was so close to Victoria was ideal.

The St Ermin’s truly is a historical gem, that blends classic elegance with contemporary innovations. It is the ideal choice for a weekend away exploring London.

The hotel is turning 120 this year and currently has an unmissable offer – £120 per night, based on two people sharing a Queen Guest Room, and breakfast for two in Caxton Grill. Visitors must book between now and 31st March 2021 and there is free cancellation up to 24 hours prior to arrival.

To book, visit www.sterminshotel.co.uk.

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