The Stafford Hotel promises a weekend of delights and surprises
London is full of wonderful hotels in great locations, but the five-star Stafford Hotel in the heart of St James’s brims with the kind of history and character that makes it a great destination for a weekend visit.
Its iconic American Bar is one of the capital’s most atmospheric watering holes with a cosy clubby feel, and famous for its Manhattans, Sidecars and Martinis.
During the second world war The Stafford served as a club for American and Canadian officers until 1945, forging lasting links with the US.
Over the years the bar has become festooned with trophies, flags and other mementos from across the Atlantic. There is even an historic bar stool, where decorated war heroine Nancy Wake used to sit every day during her two-year stay at the hotel.
Nancy, who was in her 80s when she resided at the Stafford, worked for the French Resistance and one of the most popular cocktails now served is called The White Mouse in her memory.
This was the name the Nazis used for Nancy because she was never caught. The White Mouse is made with Saffron Gin shaken with lemon juice and honey. Champagne is also added with star anise to garnish.
Despite its American links the Stafford evokes English charm and the feel of a private residence.
In fact the Lyttelton lounge and restaurant are the former dining room and drawing room of Lord and Lady Lyttelton (who owned one of the finest townhouses in London in the 17th century). A descendant of the aristocratic Lyttleton-Spencer family, Edward Spencer the 8th Earl Spencer, was the father of Diana, the late Princess of Wales.
The Stafford has been at the heart of St James for over 100 years and occupies a fabulous location, within a heartbeat of bustling Piccadilly, St James’s Park, St James’s Palace and Mayfair; yet in a wonderful oasis of calm tucked away in St James’s Place.
The Stafford also has its own mews-style courtyard which were formerly stables, where you can enjoy an al-fresco cocktail and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the West End’s bright lights.
The 105 rooms and suites are divided between the main House which is traditional in style, the countrified Carriage House which overlooks the cobbled mews, and the Mews Suites, which have a more contemporary décor.
We had a sumptuous Mews suite with a huge comfy bed, generous seating area and everything we needed at our fingertips – just as you might expect from a five-star luxury hotel.
The Stafford is also full of secret haunts and surprises. The Stafford Wine Cellars (pictured above), formerly used as an air-raid shelter during the last war, were built in the 17th Century and are now home to some 8,000 bottles of fine wine.
A charming informal museum of war-time artefacts greets you as you explore the vaulted rooms which are surprising large and where you can even dine! The cellars even include a blocked access to a tunnel which leads directto St James’s Palace!
The restaurant is spacious and elegant with tables not too close together, so a perfect choice for a romantic evening or intimate dinner with friends.
Our set menu comprised a mouth-watering choice of uncomplicated dishes such as beef carpaccio, leek and potato soup or Atlantic smoked salmon; followed by Pork Belly celeriac with fondant apple puree, a courgette risotto with parmesan mousse or the catch of the day.
My husband described the pork belly as ‘sublime’ and the sea bass which was my choice was delicious.
Our waiter also chose some wonderful wines to accompany each course which included a Chablis to go with our starters and New Zealand Pinot Noir to accompany my husband’s pork belly.
The Stafford is ideal for retirees looking to enjoy a pampered weekend in the heart of the capital, or a charming place to celebrate an anniversary or special occasion.
Quiet, peaceful and with charming staff to help you book a show, guide you on a walk through the park or simply to serve you a delicious afternoon tea, The Stafford is a luxury hotel with all the amenities you could wish for right on your doorstep.
The Stafford Hotel, 16 – 18 St. James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NJ www.thestaffordlondon.com/20 7493 0111. Rooms from £379.00 per room per night. The American Bar is open daily from 8am – 11pm serving breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner.