Hotel Review: In London, Staying True to Local Roots
In the heart of London, the Trafalgar St. James offers sophistication, easy access to many of the city’s landmarks and dynamic rooftop views.
Start at £299 pounds, or about $385, at current exchange rates.
After an extensive monthslong renovation led by SHH Architecture and Interior Design, the Trafalgar St. James, formerly known as the Trafalgar hotel, reopened in August 2017 as part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. The 131-room property has a storied past: it housed the offices of the Cunard Steamship Company in the early 20th century, and in 1912 was one of the first places where news of the Titanic’s sinking became public.
The hotel sits on the southwest side of the Trafalgar Square adjacent to Spring Gardens, a short, brick-lined street near the Charing Cross rail station that dates back to the 16th century. With the National Gallery across the street and its proximity to Buckingham Palace, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus and the West End theaters, the Trafalgar St. James offers one of the most enviable locations in central London.
Upon entering my Trafalgar King Room, I was greeted with a photo of a youthful Mick Jagger, a nice cultural touch. A large flat-screen television and a Nespresso machine sat on the long dresser in the front of the room. On one of the night stands, there was a personal tablet where I could easily check the temperature, order room service and browse a guide to the city. The room also featured two comfortable upholstered chairs and a narrow workstation-vanity table hybrid with a short round stool. The only drawback? The view from the window was of a nondescript office building, not the hotel’s more historic surroundings.
White wall tiles projected a retro look, while the vessel sink and a nearby mounted magnifying mirror added modern elements. The shower was spacious and slightly elevated from the floor, a design that helped prevent water leakage. There were an abundance of bathroom products by Molton Brown.
There is free in-room Wi-Fi, as well as throughout the hotel. Every room contains a fully stocked minibar offering a variety of bottled waters, sodas and juices, which are all complimentary, a nice surprise. A 24-hour fitness center allows guests to enjoy a variety of workouts at their own leisure.
The Trafalgar dining rooms, with views of its namesake Trafalgar Square, have a beautiful brasserie and all-day dining options, ranging from a rosemary sourdough starter (£5) to grilled Suffolk chicken with a garlic confit (£22) and the hotel’s variation on the traditional bubble and squeak (£16). The first-floor bar, with its plush bar stools, was classy and inviting. My breakfast, which featured pancakes and bacon with raspberries (£10), was delicious. The Rooftop, accessible from the sixth floor, offers a separate bar and small-plate menu with alfresco and indoor seating, accentuated by dramatic views of Trafalgar Square and the London skyline. Cocktails, ranging from an Espresso Martini (East London Vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso) to a Negroni, start at £11.
The Bottom Line
The Trafalgar St. James capitalizes on its prime location, providing personalized service and a high level of style. With subway access only a few feet away, London’s cultural gems never seemed so close.