St. Ermin’s Hotel: Discover the Intrigue and Splendor of this 4-star Luxury Hotel in Central London
Nestled in the vibrant heart of London, St. Ermin’s Hotel stands out as a beacon among 4-star Luxury Hotels in London. Its unique blend of espionage history and luxurious accommodations makes it a stand-out choice for travelers seeking an extraordinary stay in one of London’s most historic hotels. This prestigious historical hotel in Central London, located near St. James Park in Westminster, is not just luxury but a narrative woven with historical and literary connections.
St. Ermin’s Hotel stands out as a testament to elegance and intrigue, steeped in a history that intertwines with the clandestine world of espionage. Beyond its luxurious facade lies a tale woven with secrets, immortalized in history books and the literary world.
We had the delightful opportunity to revisit this grand British city, London, for a few days and wanted to take advantage of our time there. We had a 2-day layover on our travels back to the United States after our safari in Kenya and spending time in Central London was perfect. Upon discovering St. Ermin’s for our recent stay, to our delight and amazement, we found the hotel’s distinct history, elegant décor, and perfect location in the heart of London to be an absolute treasure.
Unraveling the Secrets of St. Ermin’s Hotel: Where Espionage Meets Elegance
The St. Ermin’s was built initially as mansion blocks (apartment buildings built during the Victorian era) in the late 19th century. Later the St. Ermin’s underwent an architectural transformation in the early 20th century, becoming a prestigious hotel. Its allure, however, extends far beyond its exquisite architecture. Before and during World War II, this establishment served as the headquarters for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Britain’s top-secret espionage agency.
St. Ermin’s Hotel – A captivating and colorful history sets this elegant beauty apart from other 4-star Luxury Hotels in Central London. During the 1930s, the hotel and the adjacent building were used by officers of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or M16). It was the perfect meeting spot as it was conveniently located close by to accommodate their clandestine meetings. Imagine history where if these walls could talk, you might experience the apparitions of these famous historical spy novelists, double agents, and undercover spies.
During the era, lurking through the St. Ermin’s halls indiscreetly were such memorable icons as Ian Fleming, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Laurence Grand, H. Montgomery Hyde, and Eric Maschwitz. They were all known to have secretly worked undercover or documented the quiet communications for historical, literary pieces in this convenient annex in the building throughout the 30s and the Second World War.
The hotel’s link to espionage isn’t just a part of its past—it’s ingrained in its walls. Many significant covert meetings and strategic discussions occurred within these confines. It created a perfect hub for spies to congregate and plan their intelligence operatives. The discreet location of the St. Ermin’s, nestled in the vicinity of government buildings and the Parliament, made it a prime location making it an ideal rendezvous point for covert operations at this famous espionage hotel.
On the wall hanging in the Caxton Bar is the notable “Division Bell.” These bells were used in the immediate neighborhood of Parliament to signal that a division was occurring and that members of the House of Parliament had only eight minutes to get to their chosen lobby to vote for or against.
Caxton Bar – A Meeting Place of Spies
Just imagine having one of their famous Gin Cocktails, “The Vesper” Martini (St. Ermin’s London Dry Gin, Vodka Lilleit Blanc), at the renowned Caxton Bar. Unbeknownst to you, you might have been sitting next to one of these notable intelligence officers while they were secretly discussing their next operation. While I was at the Caxton Bar, sipping my Vesper Martini, I could actually sense their historic presence in the aura of the building. It was quite thrilling.
The Caxton Bar was often frequented by the SIS, M15, and Naval Intelligence Division case officers to meet their agents. Winston Churchill often enjoyed a glass or two whilst working from the Hotel during WWII, when the SOE used the hotel as their headquarters.
It was the original haunt of the Cambridge Five Spies and was a noted meeting place of London’s secret intelligence officers for over 60 years. The Cambridge Five was a group comprised of five gentlemen recruited by the KGB while undergraduates at Cambridge University in the 1930s. The men all went on to attain high office in the British establishment, becoming known as this infamous group of double agents. There are five cocktails at Caxton Bar named for each notable character of the Cambridge Five.
The Caxton’s Bar’s signature cocktail is the “Bowler Hat,” – crafted from the St. Ermin’s Hotel’s own gin, honey from the hotel bees*, and lemon juice. St Ermin’s London Dry Gin is infused with mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lavender, blue basil, geraniums, and honey. The award-winning Hawkridge Distillers weaved their magic to create this refreshing and uplifting spirit, used for most of their Gin concoctions at the Caxton Bar.
The hotel’s dining experience is nothing short of extraordinary. The Caxton Grill tantalizes taste buds with exquisite dishes crafted from the finest seasonal ingredients. Meanwhile, the Caxton Bar offers a haven for relaxation. It boasts an impressive selection of cocktails that invite patrons to unwind amidst an atmosphere tinged with old-world charm.
The Caxton Grill, an award-winning restaurant, offers dining in an intimate and airy atmosphere with its 72-seat restaurant overlooking the courtyard garden. The Caxton Grill transforms into a delectable brunch display in the mornings, presenting an impressive grand spread of delicious morning delights.
The design and décor of the St. Ermin’s hotel offer an elegant blend of evocative Art Nouveau styling and Rococo plasterwork, along with an awe-inspiring theatrical balcony – where high tea is served in the afternoons.
St. Ermin’s Hotel isn’t just a place to lay one’s head; it’s a living testament to an era shrouded in secrecy and intrigue. Its historical significance, and literary ties. The elegantly appointed accommodations, delectable dining, and commitment to excellence make it a beacon that continues to captivate visitors from around the globe.
The rooms at St. Ermin’s echo history – Each room at St. Ermin’s whispers stories of the past. The decor seamlessly blends classic charm with modern comfort, creating an ambiance that transports guests to an era of sophistication. From the lavish suites to the cozy chambers, every space exudes a sense of elegance and echoes the clandestine whispers of its historical guests.
The hotel’s majesty is crowned with 331 beautifully appointed rooms, including 41 suites and family suites, which are all individual in shape, size, and structure. Children will also receive their own intriguing St. Ermin’s Secret Agent Package with a “Top Secret” briefing to test their sleuthing skills. Next time, I will check in as a child so I, too, can be a junior secret agent!
“House of Spies” by Peter Matthews
The hotel is full of literary connections. One of the more notable literary works that have immortalized St. Ermin’s Hotel is the “House of Spies” by Peter Matthews. It is a compelling narrative deeply rooted in the hotel’s enigmatic past. Matthews skillfully navigates through the clandestine world of espionage, setting pivotal scenes within the ornate walls of St. Ermin’s.
As readers immerse themselves in the pages of “House of Spies,” they’re transported to a world where secrets lurk in every corner. It echoes the real-life intrigue that once thrived within the corridors of this iconic establishment. Matthews’ non-fiction novel not only entertains but also pays homage to the hotel’s captivating past, solidifying its status as a critical player in the world of espionage literature.
Reflections on my St. Ermin’s Experience
Historical Hotels London; A Review of St. Ermin’s Unique Legacy
As my time at St. Ermin’s came to a close, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and nostalgia. Visiting this enchanting Luxury Hotel in Central London had been a sanctuary of comfort, elegance, and impeccable service.
From the moment I stepped into the grand foyer of this spectacular hotel in central London, a sense of timeless beauty greeted me. The intricate architecture, adorned with stunning chandeliers and exquisite elegance, left me in awe. The historical significance of this grand lady, with its role in espionage during World War II, added an extra layer of intrigue to my stay.
The accommodations were nothing short of luxurious. My room was a haven of tranquility and after several long days of travel, it offered a quiet sanctuary from the bustling city of London outside. The plush bedding and beautifully appointed decor provided the perfect ambiance for relaxation. The large picture windows from our 4th-floor room offered a lovely view overlooking the U-shaped courtyard and this historic hotel’s majestic entry.
We were immersed in chilling at the end of the day in the inviting Caxton Bar and then dining at The Caxton Grill. The ambiance of the softly lit lounge area is stunning. Before dinner, perusing through the extensive Bar Menu booklet was entertaining as it had tidbits of hotel history and detailed descriptions of their signature cocktails. We were also entertained by the talented mixologists behind the historic, expansive wood and glass bar as they created their artistic liquid libations.
We followed cocktails with dinner in the Caxton Grill, where I highly recommend their Whole Cornish Lobster and the West Country Lamb Rump with roasted celeriac purée, mint powder, and red wine jus.
The dining experiences at St. Ermin’s were a culinary pleasure. Whether it was the delectable breakfasts at the Caxton Grill or the charming afternoon high tea, each taste was a pleasure for the senses. The attentive staff ensured that every dining experience was a memorable one.
St. Ermin’s Exceptional Service
What truly sets St. Ermin’s apart is its exceptional service and attention to detail. The staff members were not just professionals but also warm and welcoming hosts. Their dedication to making our stay enjoyable was evident in every gesture, from the friendly greetings in the morning to the thoughtful turndown service at night.
Exploring the surrounding area was made easy thanks to the St. Ermin’s central London location and the knowledgeable concierge. I was within walking distance of many of London’s iconic attractions, making it convenient to immerse myself in the city’s culture and history during our brief two days at this 4-star Luxury Hotel in Central London.
Before departing your hotel stay, be sure to walk around the hotel to see the historic displays of the espionage days around the memorable St. Ermin’s Hotel.
This hotel is not just a place to stay; it’s a destination in itself, and I left with a promise to return, knowing that St. Ermin’s will always hold a special place in my heart.
St. Ermin’s offers the very best of London – Location, Location, Location!
St. Ermin’s Hotel is strategically positioned in the heart of London, tucked away in the vibrant neighborhood of Westminster near St. James Park. Its prime location places guests close to many iconic landmarks and attractions, making it an ideal hub for business and leisure travelers.
Nearby Landmarks and Attractions
A short stroll from the hotel lies the majestic Westminster Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site steeped in history and architectural splendor. Visitors can explore this iconic church, a coronation site for British monarchs, and marvel at its stunning Gothic architecture.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The Houses of Parliament, home to the UK Parliament, and the iconic clock tower housing Big Ben are must-see attractions nearby. The impressive Gothic Revival architecture and the political significance of this area make it a fascinating visit.
A short distance away stands Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch. Visitors can witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony or explore the State Rooms during summer to experience royal luxury.
St. James’s Park
Nature enthusiasts and those seeking tranquility can take a leisurely stroll through St. James’s Park, a picturesque green space offering serene views of the lake, wildlife, and beautifully landscaped gardens.
The River Thames
A walk along the banks of the River Thames, just a stone’s throw from St. Ermin’s, offers panoramic views of iconic landmarks such as the London Eye, Tate Modern, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
One of London’s most iconic department stores, Harrods, is a short distance away from St. Ermin’s. Explore its luxurious offerings across the expansive floors, exquisitely designed and appointed diverse departments, high-end fashion, and, of course, my favorite, their famous gourmet food halls.
For guests staying at St. Ermin’s Hotel, many experiences are waiting to be explored. While it may be challenging to tug yourself away from all that St. Ermin’s has to offer, there is much to do in the nearby surroundings of this magnificent hotel.
St. Ermin’s Hotel in London is affiliated with the Autograph Collection Hotels, part of Marriott International. Autograph Collection Hotels curates a collection of boutique hotels known for their unique character, rich history, and distinctive personalities. Despite being part of a larger hospitality group, each hotel within the Autograph Collection maintains its individuality, allowing guests to experience a blend of luxury and local culture specific to each property.
*St. Ermin’s Honey – About the St. Ermin’s Bees
The St. Ermin’s 350,000 resident Buckfast bees reside both on its Victorian rooftop. It sits alongside the thriving ‘Kitchen Garden’ and on the third floor ‘Bee Terrace’ – where guests can watch them go about their daily buzziness of maintaining the hives and making the delicious St. Ermin’s honey used throughout all of the hotel’s menus.