St James's Hotel and Club
Star rating: Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Liza Minelli were members
Walking up to the entrance, I reminded myself of all the previous owners and members of a business which began as a Travellers Club for diplomats b ack in 1857.
Ian Fleming, Winston Churchill, Peter De Savary and his show biz investors: Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Tim Rice, Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli and Pete Townsend. Heady days.
Since then, it has had its ups and downs yet retains the air of sophisticated exclusivity, despite its illustrious past. I was looking forward to seeing what lay behind the legend.
With just 60 rooms, St James's is a cosy luxury boutique, tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac off St. James' Street. It still has an air of gentleman's club; the original works of art, the handmade silk wallpaper, the Murano glass chandeliers and a stunning vintage staircase.
And there's a savvy concierge whose secret unveiling of the mysterious short cut on to Green Park was very welcome. Actually, it was no secret at all, I made that bit up, but it was said to once be the entrance kept for private visits of the Queen.
I stayed in the 6th floor terrace. A lounge area of sink-into sofas, plush carpeting and fine furniture led out on to a charming flowered terrace overlooking Mayfair, replete with wicker furniture. Inside was a bedroom with a Hypnos mattress, crisp linen, a Jacuzzi bath, a walk-in tropical shower, twin sinks and Etro and Penhaligon toiletries.
Surprisingly, there was a distinct lack of power points (one of my pet hates) particularly as there was a fine hairdryer to use but nowhere to plug it in near a mirror, and worse, no kettle for tea and coffee or espresso machine which is pretty much de rigueur in hotels these days.
Back down that stunning staircase, Michelin-starred William Drabble's Seven Park Place. Like the hotel, Seven Park Place is small and cosy.
Rates: Rooms from £410 pn. www.stjameshotelandclub.com