Your hotel experience consists of both “product” (nice surroundings, good beds, cleanliness, functional amenities, useful facilities, etc.) and “service” (the interaction between guests and staff and so on).
Some hotels have an ordinary product but very good service, while others have a stunning product but mediocre service (the worst outcome in my view since you end up paying a premium merely for pretty surroundings).
But when the two aspects come together in a single hotel then it merges into a beautiful symphony – in this case a uniquely French one!
I recently met the management at the Sofitel St James, currently rated London’s number 4 hotel on TripAdvisor out of more than 1100 competitors.
Regular blog readers already know about the hotel’s excellent service since our recent article showed some of its latest TripAdvisor reviews.
What impressed me just as much when I visited was “the product”.
The hotel has seen consistent investment. Although it opened 7 years ago as a completely refurbished property, it undergoes a constant and sustained programme of renovation as one of the global Sofitel “flagships”
It is run under a management contract and the hotel’s investors often themselves stay at the hotel. Standards therefore have to be impeccable.
The hotel lobby is immediately striking with its high ceilings, tasteful sculptures and artwork. There is live piano music on the mezzanine overlooking it from 6pm every day, 365 days a year.
The Sofitel St James is proud of its French heritage and French-style design cues abound, with little reminders of Paris on the wall and other artwork evocative of France (including random roosters in odd places!). It has that stylish “je ne sais quoi” which our French cousins always bring to the party.
I was blown away by the rooms which are some of the most gorgeous I’ve seen in London.
Room doors are reassuringly heavy. It feels as if you’re entering a bank vault (the building used to be a bank so it’s not all that surprising)! Once inside, you’re cocooned from street noise by triple-glazed windows.
Beds are wonderfully deep and inviting (a result of the extensive Sofitel “My Bed” research programme). They have soft mattresses and hard bases, which savvy travellers know is the perfect combination. Each has 2 duvets which take the shape of your body and regulate its temperature.
This sleep-obsessed hotel even provides you with a “pillow menu”!
The décor of the bathrooms is in an original and slightly retro black/chrome style. Again, the bathrooms are visually stunning. The “Luxury King” bathroom I inspected had a large, powerful-looking walk-in shower.
Though it’s hard to see how rooms can be further improved, there’s an ongoing investment programme to “retouch” each and every room. It’s the continuity of this commitment that I find impressive.
My tour of the Sofitel St James public area and rooms was only an appetiser to my “main course”: the brand-new hi-tech fitness centre and the spa. Those were so stunning they will have to be saved for future blog posts.
All in all, the Sofitel St James is one of the nicest hotel “products” I’ve seen in London. I can now fully understand a key reason behind its great guest reviews and the fact that it continues to climb up the TripAdvisor charts.
It’s roughly equidistant from two of London’s core hubs – Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square – both of which can be reached with a 5 minute walk.
If you want to be in the centre of central London in a truly luxurious hotel then the Sofitel St James is certainly one of your best bets.
Photo credits: Sofitel St James.