Editor Patricia Kelly was a guest of the Sofitel St James in London
What is it about marriage that persuades the Anglican clergy to attempt stand-up comedy? My goddaughter’s wedding in London was no exception, with the vicar so intent on delivering excruciating one-liners in advance of the bride’s arrival, he forgot to both deliver his address and introduce the first hymn. The upshot was he married an otherwise happy couple with almost indecent haste, the advantage being that we were all in and out of a freezing cold church in the middle of January – one next to the River Thames where (according to the vicar) Henry VIII married Jane Seymour – within 45 minutes.
SO TO BED
After an evening of champagne and ceilidh – Scottish dancing to the uninitiated – it was a relief to take the weight off my feet and collapse into bed. And what a bed: I think it was the feather top-mattress that contributed to one of the best night’s sleep I can remember for a long time. The other night I can remember was the night before in the same bed. The beds at the Sofitel are so popular that the hotel chain markets them and the bedding under the trademark “SoBed”.
Most London hotel rooms are so tiny only one person in a room is permitted to move at a time. Here, the room and bathroom were large enough to comfortably enable my daughter – her flat being the location for the bridal party’s departure for the church – to join me and her father to get dressed for the wedding without anyone getting in anyone else’s way.
We’d arrived the previous afternoon to discover that it made sense to invite daughter and goddaughter to join us at the hotel restaurant for dinner while the groom was out with his mates, rather than join them at the flat to make buttonholes for the following day. To be honest, it didn’t take much persuasion and all doubt was dispersed when they read the menu, a delightful mix of French and British ingredients and cooking. Ever had British snails? The charcuterie bar at The Balcon is an innovation and a revelation, serving cured meats from locations across the British Isles. A knowledgeable waitress – a native Francophone with good English like many of the front-of-house staff – provided sensible and affordable advice on the wine list. We managed to escape with a bill for around ¤250 which included pre-dinner drinks in the St James bar – modeled on Coco Chanel’s 1920’s Paris apartment – main courses for four people, wine, beer, water and pudding for two. Not bad for Central London on a weekend.
Located at the bottom of Regent Street in Waterloo Place on the corner of Pall Mall and almost opposite Jermyn Street, the Sofitel St James is ideally located for shops – most of them open on Sunday – and London’s West End theatres. Grade II listed and owned by the Crown Estate it was originally the home of the bank Cox & Kings; the Sofitel’s adjoining Spa – the current customer trend favours a spa weekend – was also formerly a bank. So I may inadvertently have stumbled across a solution to the economic crisis: let Sofitel take over the banks – or, at least, the buildings that house them.
From 265Euro for a room and from 445Euro for a suite. www.sofitel.com