Sofitel St James, London

Sam Lewis indulges in some French fancies at a distinctly London property Thursday, 23 April 2015

By Sam Lewis

Sam Lewis indulges in some French fancies at a distinctly London property

A Union Jack flies proudly outside this prestigious Pall Mall hotel, but inside this former bank I discover British heritage is cleverly combined with French flair – while the cocktail bar is inspired by Coco Channel's 1920s apartment; the Rose Lounge houses the hotel's library of French and British books and serves traditional English tea alongside the lightest freshly-baked French pastries.

I'm on a hunt for something more substantial and head for the Balcon brasserie to browse a menu that uses seasonal British ingredients to produce classic dishes with a French twist. Starters include Herefordshire snails and homemade foie gras, while a traditional cassoulet is just one of the many traditional mains. Although I long for the crepe suzette, with a treatment scheduled I feel obliged to opt for the De-Light menu, a three-course meal for under 500 calories.

Gastronomy features in many of the spa treatments and the spa's main reception area is a feast for all senses. Daylight floods through large windows, ornate columns soar to seemingly sky-high ceilings and the aroma of scented oils fills the air. This is a spa suited for groups who want to socialise and, while girls like me can book in for a manicure and martini, guys can opt for a pedicure and pint whilst sitting in giant-sized King and Queen treatment chairs.

But while I discover that some English traditions prevail, spa brands are utterly French. Top on the treatment list is the So SPA's Carita facials (60 mins £95) and rituals inspired by Marisa Berenson, a famous French actress, who uses prickly pear oil to preserve her beauty.

Like every guest, I'm treated like a movie star with the chance to pick my own music, room temperature and (Cinq Mondes) aroma in one of the spa's five treatment rooms.

While there's no wet room or hydropool, there is a private hammam and, if you're in need of further relaxation you can head next door to the Rose Lounge where a harp plays every afternoon, or upstairs to one of the contemporary 183 guestrooms… Quiet as a vault, they're equipped with Hermes toiletries and Sofitel's trademark bed and mattress topper — as light and fluffy as the French pastries served downstairs.

sofitelstjames.com

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