Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Crowne Plaza St James

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza St James, in London for our wedding anniversary in December. It's really well located a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Victoria. It's also well served by transport links although it sits on a relatively quiet road, so makes a great central spot for exploring London without the hussle and bustle that many city centre locations come with.

Big Ben and Parliament is about 10 minutes walk away

The staff on reception were friendly and welcoming when we arrived, and the reception and lounge area was really beautifully decorated for Christmas.

We're quite keen on airline frequent flier cards and hotel cards so we collect Priority Club points (Intercontinental Hotels Group) and tend to favour their hotels where possible/reasonable, which means that we will often choose to stay at Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental and Holiday Inns amongst others. We're currently gold members, and one of the advantages of this is that we are offered an upgrade where possible - we were lucky to receive our upgrade on this trip. we were also offered a special Priority Club promotion on check in where we could choose between a free drink in the bar, 500 extra points or a treats bag. On Mr T's insistence we took the treats bag and lived to regret it given the bottle of water, bag of minstrels and packet of nuts that was inside - should have gone for the points considering how much upcoming travel we're doing.

Our room, on the second floor, was massive. It was a regular sized room, with a big dressing room off that and a bathroom off that. It looked out over the courtyard, which was large and made for pleasant viewing, especially with all the Christmas lights up, and made for a quiet outlook rather than the noise of the streets of London.

The pretty courtyard at night
When we first walked in I saw red cords either side of the bed and, being a bit slow off the mark said 'I wonder if this place used to be a hospital?' Then I looked around at the smooth wooden floors, and checked out the bathroom with it's walk in shower and low level sink and bath, grab rails, and more red cords, and the penny dropped that it was a wheelchair accessible room. I'm not entirely sure of everything you would look for in an accessible room, but this one seemed pretty well equipped to my untrained eye.

Bedroom with shiny wooden floors and comfy big bed

Huge bathroom!

Whenever we get to a new place Mr T likes to check out every nook and cranny, open all the doors and generally get to know his environment intimately, so while I was looking at the bathroom he carried on with that. I heard him exclaim and ran back into the bedroom to find that he had opened the interconnecting door to the room next door, only to find that there was actually someone staying in the room, with the tv on and the laptop set up on the desk as if they had just popped to the loo! He quickly shut our door and locked it from our side, but I wonder whether they heard him?!

We went to watch We will Rock You at the theatre (it was very good by the way) so we didn't eat in the hotel at all, but we did go for a couple of cocktails in Zander Bar. Most of the menu was priced as you would expect for a London hotel, but we found a fairly extensive list of cocktails that were all about half price, making them fantastic value - cue a giggly Mrs T!

Cocktails in Zander Bar - this one was pre-discovery of cheaper list, but it was soooo tasty!

We didn't eat breakfast at the hotel based on the fact that it wasn't included in our room rate and so was extortionately priced. We went round the corner to House of Fraser (3 min walk away) and had a tasty breakfast for a quarter of the price! 

I'd read a couple of negative reviews online about the hotel, based on:
noise from the courtyard - we didn't experience any, but perhaps that would be different in the summer when people can drink and dine outside
noise from the tube, which runs directly below the hotel - we heard the distant rumble of passing trains, but it wasn't loud enough to bother us and definitely didn't disturb our sleep
building work - we saw that there was scaffolding up but didn't have any issues
it was in need of refurb and updating - our room was fine, in good condition but it did appear to have been decorated some time ago and in keeping with the age of the building, which to me was quite charming. The corridors were a bit odd, with some being beautifully decorated in a contemporary but sympathetic style, and others looking really quite dated, but it was all clean and well looked after which to me is the most important thing

All in all, it was a pleasant stay in a well located and charming hotel - I like a building with a little history and character, and this fitted the bill. It would definitely make my list of recommendations for London hotels.


  1. Nice size rooms by London standards. Glad you had a good experience!

    1. It was massive by london standards - I was most impressed at how spacious it was.

  2. I love the bedroom! Even if it did look like a hospital setting :)
    Gosh lucky you realised about the connecting door when someone wasn't in there naked! Not sure how that would have gone down if the other person opened the door during the night!
    Its a big bathroom - I would love that bath tub, just for one night.
    Amazing how much some hotels can charge for breakfast.
    Sounds like you had a great stay.

  3. It was a really nice room. The connecting door incident made me laugh - could have been so much worse! Lisa, if you liked the look of that tub, you should see the one we've just scored in Singapore! I always miss them when we don't have one but rarely use them when we do - it's one of those things that you really want when you want it!