Originally built as private residences in the 17th century at 17, St James Place, The Stafford was inhabited by Lord and Lady Lyttleton Then, in 1886 The Stafford Club was added, with The hotel was inaugurated on its present site at number 18 in 1912.
During the Second World War, The Stafford served as a club for American and Canadian officers stationed overseas who sought refuge in the Wine Cellars. This led to the formation, in later years, of the Better ‘Ole Club with famous members such as HRH the Prince of Wales. The one-of-a-kind Carriage House rooms were added in the late 80s, while many of the hotel’s facilities such as its cellars have remained intact for 380 years.
Beyond its impressive heritage and prestigious address, The Stafford by Kempinski impresses with its discreet, understated yet ultra-personalized service and overall its quintessentially English sophistication, both in decor and service. Bespoke luxury amenities, complimentary high-speed wi-fi internet, UK/US power sockets, Nespresso machines, Bose CD/Radios and heavenly comfortable beds with fine Italian linen are just some of the ‘standard’ amenities for all guests of The Stafford.
Through service, its exceptional diversity of rooms, most of them individually designed and furnished, The Stafford boasts a unique residential feel, which has been attracting celebrities and dignitaries for over a century. During my stay, I was truly impressed by the crowd at the American Bar, an instution in St James’, attracting mostly locals. Hundreds of signed celebrity photographs crowd the walls and the ceiling is hung with a colourful collection of club ties, sporting mementoes and baseball caps.
The Lyttelton is the fine dining restaurant of The Stafford, headed by Chef Brendan Fyldes, who masters rustic interpretations of British cuisine with an emphasis on the season’s best local produce. Homemade black pudding, English bacon and chestnuts, ceps & devilled jus; English veal bolognese pasta; Elwy Valley lamb with mint sauce; elderflower jelly and Plymouth Gin sorbet; warm spiced cake with salt caramel and honeycomb ice cream – are just some of the enticements proposed by The Lyttelton.
Between 2011 and 2012, all rooms and suites have undergone extensive renovations, with brand new marble bathrooms (most with bathtub and separate walk-in shower), preserving the elegant English style while adding a contemporary twist, every detail being conceived to provide the utmost in comfort. My suite, the Penthouse in the Mews building has an impressive outdoor terrace with stunning views of the London skyline.
I loved the separate enclosed working area which resembled a small office, the incredibly comfortable bed (an oversized king size) and the Spa-like bathroom, with a free-standing bathtub – a deep soak with bath salts was an ideal welcome pamper after a long flight and a cold, wet London. I woke up early morning by a ray of sunshine and I quickly rushed to the terrace – the views were fantastic. I truly felt home…
Front Office, Concierge, Housekeeping and Guest Relations were flawless. My only suggestion for improvement is breakfast, both in service and selection of foods. When I came down from my suite I waited over 20 minutes for a table and then, decided to go back to my suite and had room-service. The other shortcoming of the hotel is the lack of an in-house Spa, which, due to the structure of the buildings which make up the hotel was probably impossible to built.
I must also add my expectations were exceeded by Kempinski, the group which operates The Stafford on a long term third party management agreement. The Stafford is not only among the top ten luxury hotels in London but it is certainly a landmark property for Kempinski Hotels, worldwide.
Oliver Petcu in London
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