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Turn down a side street in Mayfair or amble by a quiet(er) road by an iconic shopping stretch and you’re likely to find elegant old boutique hotels. As much as I love the pomp of a luxury chain, when booking a staycation or travelling, I like something that feels unique and homely. Even better when there’s a highly acclaimed restaurant downstairs. And not the hipster kind of Michelin star, you know, the kind with concrete seats, practically no lighting and food that makes you think it’s been rationed for rabbits. The classical type with fantastic service and good wine pairings to go with the menu. You can find this at St James Hotel and Club’s Seven Park Place, by Chef William Drabble. For me, this is one of the top foodie hotels in London you must try.
Although this particular stay was by invite, I was already a huge fan of the restaurant. While at university, my godmother took me there and when I moved back to London, we repaid a visit for her birthday. Eating here is an occasion in itself, even for the most discerning foodie. The dining room is intimate with limited tables but each are sprawling in space. It’s as if you’re having your own dinner party with a private chef.
The three course menu for £75 that we sampled for dinner didn’t stray far from the August tasting menu last year. The Franco-British restaurant has kept their old school foie gras – here it is served as the liver as opposed to terrine, which was paired with an icewine from China. That definitely caused our eyebrows to rise but this was a nice surprise. It’s not a region you’d necessarily expect to produce fantastic wines and it often takes place on menus as a talking point more than anything else. With the rich fatty starter, it certainly made for a very decadent beginning to the evening. The scallops with apple also seem to be a staple, and is a delicate combination I haven’t seen elsewhere.
Despite these usual suspects, I am told that most of the offerings change seasonally depending on which ingredients the chef can best source. This time of the year, it’s veal sweetbreads as the main course, encased in a shell of crisped panchetta. What could be better than creamy meatiness offset by salty crunch? The Lune Valley lamb dish is also a star. It comes in the perfect pink, dazzling in a mossy bed of herbs. It was a much welcome meal, especially after trying out one of the trending restaurants in London earlier for lunch, which was frankly all hype and zero substance (if you watch my Stories you’ll know which ‘Berber-style’ joint I’m referring to). This is the kind of meal that people should expect after a chilly day, after sunset, with their loved ones.
The desserts here are definitely ones to save room for. For our dinner, we had the chocolate mousse (can never go wrong), which is large enough to share if you’re feeling generous. I was not. With the tasting menu, petit fours are served in droves and can be packed up in a lovely tin to take home.
There’s nothing anyone wants to do more after a deeply satiating meal than to curl up in bed, watching TV. We were fortunate to retire to the little suite on the seventh floor for the night.
The boutique hotel primarily caters to business people and is busiest during the weekdays. With this in mind, St James Hotel & Club have also created a ‘healthy’ menu, including vegan options for breakfast. As for facilities, some accommodations feature private balconies – our penthouse residence boasts a roof terrace almost the size of the room itself! But the real winner is obvious, it’s certainly the hotel for foodies and it’s undeniably all about Seven Park Place.
7-8 Park Place
St. James’s, SW1A 1LS