In addition to running around to the thirty odd shows over London Collections: Men for the SS16 collections (as seen on my Instagram), I spent my long weekend at the Sofitel London St James. Both the interior and exterior shines through as a Grade II listed building - with its Victorian ceilings and grand structure. There's history too in the planning and architecture of the building, its location at the edge of the prestigious St James's area, a stone's throw away from Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Square, coincidentally also the beginning point of the well-known architect John Nash's Regent Street plan. Sofitel, being a French international hotel chain, no doubt has to have some French 'oh la la' elements in the hotel. From the minute you step into the hotel, you are greeted by a 3-metre engraved glass wall, engraved by French calligrapher Claude Mediavilla. Its décor has no clear definition - traditional and contemporary; to exist in the second decade of the 21st century means there's no avoiding of the clash, or co-existence, of the two styles.
The Lobby was designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, a renowned French interior designer, who has designed from the likes of Four Seasons George V in Paris and the Savoy hotel in London. This area combines French elegance and English architecture with its Big Ben chrome clock and grand marble floors. Sofitel's slogan is 'Life is Magnifique'. After its rebranding and international expansion in 2007, the hotel aims towards the luxury market 'with a French touch'. Luxury comfort, not simply comfort, is desired by its clientele. The atmosphere is not meant to scare you off or throw your knees to the ground. If you combine comfort and elegance, if such is possible, Sofitel succeeds in redesigning. The renovation updates the hotel chain on the modernity scale in the competitive market while keeping its character. Guestrooms are well equipped; for rooms alone, there are four types to choose from - Classic, Superior, Luxury and Premium Luxury. The Premium Luxury room I stayed in had views of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place. All rooms are furnished beds with Sofitel's MyBed technology, WiFi access, coffee and tea facilities, television with 100 channels and 80 movies, two large wardrobes and a grand bathroom with marble flooring.
For breakfast every morning, I ate at The Balcon - a brasserie perfect for all-day dining. There was a good selection of hot and cold plates, with a separate section to personalise your own 'Full English'. For drinks, The St James Bar is located next door to the brasserie. Sofitel is fashion conscious - the Bar takes inspiration from Coco Chanel's 1920 apartment and even has a painting of the Duke as a reminder of the building's previous use - Cox's and King's bank. For afternoon tea, the Rose lounge has its own character with its blush colours and comfortable lounge sofas.
A luxury five-star hotel cannot be complete without spa and gym facilities. The So SPA opened just over 5 years ago, relaxing and refined with its high ceilings, separated over three floors with an elegant oak staircase. The fitness centre, So FIT, is open 24 hours and decorated with a lot of green. It's often difficult to find space for a gym in a hotel and, as a result, is often placed in the basement. However, at Sofitel St James, the gym was actually located on the first floor. Although there were no spectacular views of St James, the green walls added a nice atmosphere - as if one was working out in a tropical jungle. One of the more interesting sides to this gym is the multi-sensorial 'Sha Chair' (as picture below) where it is a room with mood lights to accompany music; guests can simply walk in and experience a short treatment that is supposed to help with jetlag and feel as if you have had a full night's sleep in 15 minutes. Perfect for the business savvy traveller.
Location-wise, you can definitely get anywhere in Central London in 15 minutes. I managed to charge to Holborn for the shows in just under 15 minutes every day. And, of course, return to the hotel charge everything, and go, again. For now, I could only wish I had more time to enjoy the facilities, take a stroll to St James's Park, or even soak up in a bath to smell like a bottle of Eau D'orange Verte...
To be continued... #tbc