BACKGROUND St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel first opened in 1902. It was patronised by the likes of royalty from the Buckingham Palace at that time. It is owned by Indian hotel company, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, which has another property — Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences — beside it.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Its exterior flaunts two flags — one of Great Britain and one of India — with pride at the entrance. It resembles a colonial mansion with the name of the property embossed at the top of the gate. The lobby is charming with a residential decor. It features wooden panelling, elaborate chandeliers, lamps and showpieces that make it look quite welcoming. It’s partially carpeted with a number of subtle colours like ochre, blue and grey splashed across elegantly. London-themed artwork faces you as you check-in at the reception desk. The hotel’s centrepiece is its glorious courtyard, with a Victorian fountain adorned with cherub statues. The St. James’ Courtyard restaurant is located here, amidst lush greenery, overlooking which is a Private Dining Terrace — my preferred spot for relaxing in the evening alongside some tea.
WHERE IS IT? In the heart of central London, walking distance from Buckingham Palace and St. James’ Park. Westminster Cathedral, Big Ben, The House of Parliament and Mayfair can be reached by foot from the hotel.
ROOM FACILITIES It features 338 rooms and suites, primarily divided into Classic and Executive categories, which are further split up into Single, Double, King rooms, and Studio, Junior and Master suites. The corridors, rooms and suites are decorated with clean lines and cool colours. My Classic King room (35 sqm) faced the courtyard and was very English in its decor. Muted colours such as grey, off-white and brown, and wooden panels make this space look sophisticated. A media hub connects to the flat screen LCD television that faces the king-sized bed. A traditional work desk and chair with a chest of drawers are adjacent to the window. A maroon coloured lounger and table are placed to the right of the window. The room is well lit with a good number of table lamps positioned around the space. Two colonial paintings above the bed add an artistic touch to the area. Wifi is free across the property. Valet service and free newspapers are offered.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
There are a number of restaurants and bars across the property that range from casual to fine dining. Quilon is its signature Michelin star restaurant that serves southwest Indian cuisine. The restaurant’s specialities include seafood moilee; lobster with kokum and mango; and sea bass with Goan green and red masala. Bistro is known for its unconventional presentations of local flavours. Afternoon tea at St. James’ Courtyard is quite nice. The hotel also houses Bank Westminster (classic English cuisine), Kona (European), The Hamptons Bar and Zander Bar.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The hotel has 17 conference and banqueting suites, some of which have played host to Her Majesty The Queen and Sir Winston Churchill. Spaces are beautifully furnished with magnificent chandeliers and classic wooden panelling. All meeting rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and video conferencing facility with Tata Communications’ concierge support. Edwardian I (183 sqm) is its largest meeting space that can accommodate 300 people in reception style. Edwardian II (59 sqm), Buckingham (29 sqm) and Taj (39 sqm) are some of its other meeting rooms.
LEISURE FACILITIES Wellness Centre is its spa that offers mineral-rich treatments. It features sauna and steam rooms. Personal training is provided to guests at its fitness centre. Taj Khazana is the hotel’s lifestyle boutique that retails artefacts, garments and accessories. The hotel gives access to a fleet of chauffeured classic vehicles such as Vintage Jaguar Daimler limousines and Bentleys to guests on a rental basis.
VERDICT Colonial luxury with contemporary service. Ideal for business travellers who want to stay in the heart of the city.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from £274/ ₹21,950 for a Classic Double room.
CONTACT 54 Buckingham Gate, Westminster; tel: +44 20 7834 6655; stjamescourthotel.co.uk