Bee lovers, history buffs, dog lovers and those who appreciate over the top hotel service will love my favorite hotel in London-St. Ermin’s. I’ve travelled all over the world and this is my pick for best overall hotel. Hands down. A historic property set in a private courtyard, it exudes charm but most of all I love the consistently world class customer service I’ve received every time I stay there. Their staff is well trained, friendly and go out of their way to make you feel special. Another bonus is the location, which is easy walking distance to many sites such as Parliament, Westminster Cathedral, Big Ben, Hyde Park, St. James Park, Churchill War Rooms, 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, etc.
Caxton Bar & Grill/St. Ermin’s Bees/Afternoon Tea
The formal lobby serves as an elegant gathering place for the afternoon happy hour with free wine/nibbles most days and a fine place to have a cup of tea. Everyone but especially kids (who may never have seen such a relic let only used it) seem to be fascinated with the typewriter available with paper to type out a review of the hotel. Just off the lobby there is the Caxton bar and restaurant where the morning breakfast is served. Upstairs, there is a lovely room for Afternoon Tea that is served daily. Featuring sweet and savoury treats from the hotel’s rooftop garden and bee garden, you can’t ask for a more quintessential British tradition to enjoy during your trip to London. Make reservations here for Afternoon Tea well in advance of your visit. It’s popular! After taking your tea, go upstairs to the third floor and visit the St. Ermin’s bees. Safely behind glass, you can watch them go about their daily business of making honey.
While Thom and I have stayed at St. Ermin’s several times on both business and pleasure trips, I didn’t stay there on my Ladies Trip recently because we needed the added space of an ARBNB. However, we did visit after our Parliament trip to soak up the warmth of tea served in the bar and take advantage of the grand staircase to pose for pictures with a kind staff member serving as our photographer.
Perks that we loved at St. Ermin’s:
- Free wine and canapes for happy hour Monday to Thursday 5:30-6:30
- 24 hour gym
- Free water and candy in room minibar-handy to refuel after a long day of walking
- International breakfast buffet free with made-to-order omelettes (with Marriott Platinum status)
- Mailed my postcards to US for free
- Typewriter in lobby that you can use to leave reviews of hotel-kids are fascinated by this device
- Amazing front veranda where you can relax, eat takeway food or drinks or get lobby service from hotel bar
- Concierge service-lent me a new electric adapter when mine failed to work
- One block to St. James tube station-so quick to get around London
- 10 minute walk to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Hyde Park
- Starbucks, Pret-A-Manger and pharmacy one block away
- Grand staircase in lobby for photos you’ll want to share
- They allow pups-who doesn’t love a pet friendly place!
St. Ermin’s is built upon the site of a 15th century chapel dedicated to St. Ermin (thus the name!). The building was converted into a hotel in 1899. Famous for a meeting held here by Winston Churchill in 1940 with founding members of the Special Opertions Executive (SOE) also known as Churchill’s Security Army. This elite group formed the basis of the SAS and took over an entire floor of St. Ermin’s as its headquarters during WWII while the M16 were stationed two floor above. Churchill was known well in the hotel’s Caxton Bar during this period. History buffs will love staying here and walking over the Churchill War Rooms for a tour.
After WWII, a “Division Bell” in the hotel lobby was rung to signal MPs that they had eight minutes to get back to Parliament to the House of Commons to vote. Now the bell now longer rings but you never know who you might meet at the hotel because it is located within the “Westminster Bubble” very close to government buildings. It is rumored that MPs could use a secret tunnel to get back to Parliament, running from under the grand staircase in the lobby to the House of Commons. Hmmmm….who doesn’t love a British mystery?