Staying at London’s Stafford Hotel: A Luxury St. James Property Warmly Welcomes American Guests
By Janis Turk
Senior Travel Writer
An American flag hangs outside one of London’s most charming—and thoroughly British—luxury hotel properties, The Stafford London. Tucked discreetly away from the noise and bustle of double-decker tourist busses and big black London taxicabs, hidden at the end of a quiet enclave amid the splendors of the St. James district edging Green Park, The Stafford London epitomizes posh buttoned-up English elegance but also offers a decidedly American air of open and heartfelt hospitality.
How can it simultaneously be so quintessentially British and yet so Yankee Doodle dandy? Visit The Stafford, and you’ll see.
A private, independently owned historic hotel near Green Park, Buckingham Palace, and Mayfair, The Stafford London is as timeless as the city to which it belongs. Founded in 1912, it features 105 individually decorated bedrooms and suites housed in three buildings.
And though The Stafford is every bit as stylish and sophisticated as any other luxury London property—keeping pace with similar 5-star spaces such as The Goring, The Wellesley, and the like—there is something alluring about its American interface: the way it attracts visitors from every continent with its casual club-like American Bar and unique Blue Ball Yard courtyard, featuring a private exit behind the hotel.
The American Bar is dark and inviting, with tiny tables, an unpretentious bar menu, classic cocktails and highballs, and walls and ceilings covered with sports memorabilia, celebrity photographs, baseball caps, club ties, flags, and souvenirs sent from all over the world by loyal guests. But as American as its bar may be, The Stafford has a far more British sensibility overall, as well as an air of history, and a longtime commitment to quality and service.
Standing near Piccadilly Road and just off of Green Park, The Stafford is housed in a building dating to the 17th century. According to hotel records, its main house buildings were originally built as private residences, with Number 17 St. James Place being most famously owned by Lord and Lady Lyttelton, daughter of the then Earl Spencer (with whom Princess Diana would be related). Over the years, the house changed hands many times and was used for many purposes.
The Stafford Club, originally housed at Number 18, was added in 1886, and when the hotel was extended to include Number 16 in in 1912, The Stafford London was born. Now, more than a century later, it is a meticulously modern property with luxury accommodations, fine dining, a popular bar, meeting spaces, an elegant restaurant and lounge and a large underground wine cellar. The Stafford projects elegance with modern touches and fine amenities.
Offering three styles of rooms and suites, guests may choose accommodations in the elegant Main House, the contemporary Mews Suites or The Stafford’s Carriage House, with the latter offering my favorite suites despite their facing the courtyard where American Bar guests may dine, making that area it a bit noisier on warm summer nights. However, most of the hotel is quiet and serene, tucked quietly away from the street.
The Carriage House offers 12 traditional rooms and suites set in former 18th-century mews and stables of nobility. Its rooms feature a charming countryside ambiance, with split stable doors, wooden beams, and chic English country house interiors.
Each room features a large flat-screened television, a desk, a lounge area, and a Nespresso machine, as well as a king-sized bed and luxury en-suite bathrooms with high-end amenities.
The Carriage House also offers the “Guv’nor’s Suite”, a spacious split-level apartment including a dining area, library, two bathrooms, a fireplace, and kitchen. In the 26 Mews suites, including the Penthouse Suite, a more classic, contemporary English elegance is showcased in a separate building that also features a private entrance and a fitness center. In the Main House, guests are greeted by name at reception, and in it are 67 rooms and suites combining Victorian grandeur with modern comfort.
The Main House is also home to the elegant Lyttelton Restaurant and lounge with its fireplaces, plush upholstered furnishings, ornate frosting-like crown moldings, and soft ivory, lavender, and grey color palette with floral fabrics, custom draperies, and a custom-designed gilt chandelier. While guests enjoy a fine English breakfast each morning at the formal Lyttelton Restaurant, I enjoy most the afternoon tea.
A little-known fact about The Stafford is that during World War II it served as a club for American and Canadian officers stationed overseas who sought refuge in its underground 380-year-old vaulted wine cellars. Today’s affluent guests and London’s elite often arrange for intimate dinners and private group events in the Wine Cellars.
Wines from The Stafford’s exquisite collection are available to all guests during meals at The Lyttelton, where executive chef Carlos Martinezoffers classic and modern cuisine with a Mediterranean flavor.
The Stafford London, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is located near many of London’s biggest attractions, including art galleries, theatres, and the royal palaces and parks, as well as the finest shopping of Jermyn Street and Fortnum & Mason. It’s also near London’s famous Ritz hotel. However, sophisticated American travelers know it is The Stafford that offers the perfect London stay—hidden away at a quiet address where Old Glory still waves.
Book Early and spend next Christmas in London with Holiday Celebrations at the Stafford
With 100 glittering Christmas trees in place, the holidays are bright at The Stafford London. Christmas Eve will feature traditional carols, mulled wine, and hot roasted chestnuts in the 380-year-old working Wine Cellars. Following a four-course dinner in The Lyttelton, guests may take part in a torch-lit procession to celebrate midnight mass at historic The Guards Chapel in St. James Park.
A classic British Christmas feast will be the highlight of Christmas Day punctuated by the decadent and entertaining Ceremony of the Christmas pudding. Beyond indulging in the legendary Boxing Day sales, the day after Christmas holds holiday season magic with ice skating in Hyde Park, glühwein at Covent Garden Christmas Market topped off with a four-course dinner in The Lyttelton restaurant.
And to ring in 2017, the hotel will present a New Year’s Eve celebration beginning with a canapé reception, followed by a lavish dinner in The Lyttelton. Then guests are invited to countdown to the New Year with the crowds on the banks of the River Thames and view London’s spectacular fireworks display.
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