A review of the five-star St Martin’s Lane Hotel in London’s West End, including the hotel’s The Restaurant dining experience
It has been 24 years since Philippe Starck opened the boutique, five-star St Martin’s Lane Hotel in the West End, and changed the London hotel landscape forever.
With a 2014 refurb by Tim Andreas, and consistent upgrades ever since, the hotel is still in great shape.
Now owned by luxury hotel chain Ennismore, Visit Gay London enjoyed a recent overnight stay to check in again on the St Martin’s Lane Hotel, and are pleased to report it’s as swanky, comfortable and sexy as it ever was.
Okay, it’s maybe not as sexy. The models and actors aren’t staying there now, and the bar and restaurant aren’t the hip hubs they once were.
But what has replaced the frenetic glamour, is a calmer, more laid back atmosphere, whilst still slap-bang in the centre of the West End.
It’s location on St Martin’s Lane – right across from the Duke of York’s Theatre, and a stones throw from buzzy Covent Garden and Soho, and the neon fun Leicester Square & Piccadilly Circus, is a major selling-point: you can’t find anywhere better situated if you want some peace and quiet but right in the centre of the action.
The National Portrait Gallery round the corner from the hotel has just reopened this month after a multi-million pound refurb, and with the National Gallery nearby, the London Coliseum next door, and countless restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas surrounding you, you certainly won’t be bored!
The welcome you get as you check in is friendly and efficient, and the foyer is still an absolute knock-out of a space, with Starck’s furniture (surely heritage listed in some way?) dominating the open area that connects all of the public spaces of the hotel.
The staff of the hotel were consistently warm, friendly, and attentive throughout our stay, and when we asked about the local LGBTQ+ scene, offered some good recommendations.
Our room – one of 203 guest rooms all with floor-to-ceiling windows for great views across London – was one of their first floor Garden Rooms, with a small internal courtyard – a great way to be outside without any surrounding noise.
The sleek and minimalist design of the rooms remains intact, and clearly regularly upgraded, with soft furnishings all seeming very new.
There was plenty of space to do some work, plus tea and coffee making facilities, a TV that was proportionate to the size of the room (which is rare), and charging sockets and light switches positioned where you actually need them. The lights were dimmable and could be varied by colour and tone.
The plush bed, crisp linens, and premium amenities ensured a restful sleep, while the spacious bathroom with its (very powerful) shower and lovely Moetz and Goetz toiletries were a nice touch.
In terms of the hotel’s facilities, the gym is huge, was never crowded when we stopped by, and has everything you could possibly need for a successful workout.
Hospitality-wise, the outside TRIP summer terrace just off the main foyer, sits nicely in a long pedestrian walkway between the hotel and the impressive London Coliseum, so you can relax having a drink whilst watching costumes being made for the latest English National Opera production through their open windows.
A small, sophisticated lounge and bar – The Den – also sits off the foyer, with oak panelled walls and luxurious furnishings; as does the main restaurant, filled with iconic swirls of books, and eclectic furniture.
We didn’t get the chance to sample their Ellamia cafe, with swanky pink seating and velvet curtains. During the day it’s a buzzy cafe, and from Tuesday to Saturday nights it turns into a pre-and post-theatre drinks and dining venue.
We ate in The Restaurant in the evening of our stay. It was a Monday night, so very quiet, which was not an issue for us but if you like your restaurants buzzy then you’ll need to eat there later in the week.
The food was delicious, choosing from an À La Carte menu that offers Europe/Asian fusion inspired dishes.
We started with a citrus burrata and tempura soft shell crab, both fresh and tasty. Our mains were Atlantic cod with roesti, pea puree, anchovy caper relish, squid ink tuille; and lamb canon with kofta, baby aubergine, harissa couscous, which were both cooked to perfection. For dessert we plumped for a pavlova and mascarpone pannacotta – which were as good as they sound.
The restaurant’s food is better than its surroundings: the original Philippe Starck features have slowly been downgraded over the years, and it has left a rather confused design, with seating that may look eclectic but on some chairs ends up being a bit uncomfortable, and bare walls where some art could help to add some personality to the room.
That said, these are small niggles in an otherwise slick operation. The service and food were exemplary.
Breakfast the next day was in the same space, with a choice of a fresh, well-organised buffet and/or an al a carte menu with a wide selection of breakfast treats.
Overall, the St Martin’s Lane Hotel in London is a gem of a hotel, that deserves its reputation as an effortlessly stylish place to stay in London.
It remains swish and glamorous, but also manages to be welcoming, comfortable and inclusive, which is a pretty great combination.
Hotel Score Card
You’d be hard pressed to find a hotel that was closer to the action than the St Martin’s. It’s on a lovely street that is literally between Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and the West End. It’s about as central as you can get.
The rooms are simple in an understated, luxurious way, with plenty of style but not over substance: there’s a great balance between slick, sexy interiors, and five-star hotel comfort.
The food and beverage offering in the St Martin’s Lane is as you would expect, with an emphasis on good, fresh ingredients, presented in a thoughtful and – above all else – tasty way.
A great location, with plenty of style and comfort to go round, make this a great choice for a West End stay in London.
by PAUL RAVEN
Paul was a guest of St Martin’s Lane Hotel London
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