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My review of Conrad London St James – is the rebrand working?

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This is my review of the Conrad London St James hotel, its rooms and its facilities.

I wrote in August about the surprising news that the new InterContinental Westminster was to rebrand as Conrad St James with almost immediate effect.  It gave the Hilton upmarket business brand a presence in the capital overnight and instantly became the ‘poshest’ Hilton family hotel in London.

Following my original article I was invited by the hotel to take a look.  I was given a room with breakfast and lounge access for free.  Note that I live very close to the hotel (under 10 minutes by taxi) so I did not get any intrinsic benefit from staying there – I was not nearer my office, for example, and did not save any commuting money!

Location

The property was converted from what appears to be office use about 18 months ago.  It is directly opposite St James Park tube station on the District Line.

Conrad London St James exterior

Scotland Yard is next door.  This will become important later!

Conrad London St James Scotland Yard

Check In

Check in was very efficient.  The lobby is bright and airy, benefitting from a glass roof which encases what is actually a triangular structure.

My Hilton HHonors Gold card was not in the booking and the clerk needed help from a supervisor to add it.  She was very polite and took me on a short tour of the ground floor as well as the first floor where the executive lounge is located.  I was then taken back to the lift and left to make my own way to the fifth floor.

There did not appear to be any note in my booking to explain why I was at the hotel, which is how I prefer it, and I did not receive any preferential treatment.  I did not receive any upgrade from my booked room when I produced my Hilton Gold card.

Room

My King Executive Room was very well appointed.  I had NOTHING to complain about.  It is a new hotel and no expense appears to have been spared on the rooms, fittings or the public areas.

There was a decent sized sleeping area with a large bed.  The TV was built into the mirror.

Conrad London St James bed

It was adjacent to a good sized desk with a large number of power sockets and an iPod / iPhone dock (with a lightning connector, rarely seen in a hotel).  I also had a Nespresso machine (not pictured) with a small carton of fresh milk in the fridge.  I always appreciate fresh milk – there is nothing worse than an expensive coffee machine and those silly plastic milk capsules ….

Conrad London St James desk

The bathroom was marble with a bath, a large shower and a big sink.  Toiletries were by Aromatherapy Associates which is standard Conrad issue.  The room also had a toothbrush, comb, razor, mouthwash and pretty much everything else you might need.

Conrad London St James sink

and

Conrad London St James shower

There is always a catch, of course.  In this case, it was the view:

Conrad London St James view

With the nights drawing in, though, it is very possible that if you are here on a business trip you will never see the outside of the hotel in daylight.  It is also likely that the rooms at the back are quieter than the rooms overlooking Broadway at the front.

I also had connectivity issues.  I stuck to using the free wi-fi given to me as a Hilton Gold.  This is advertised as 512 kbs and felt like it.  Whilst not stated, it seems to have only been for one device since, after connecting my laptop, I was unable to connect my iPad or iPhone.  There is a premium wi-fi service available at a cost, and if I was here on business I would certainly have upgraded.

More serious was the inability to receive a decent mobile phone signal in the room.  Despite being five floors up, my Vodafone signal varied from nothing to a very weak 3G.  There was no chance of 4G.

I was told by the taxi driver who took me home, and the hotel confirmed to me afterwards that they also suspect this, that there is an issue with New Scotland Yard next door.  It seems that the Yard uses some sort of signal blocking to stop telephone calls inside the building being monitored.  This seems to be distorting mobile phone access in certain parts of the hotel.

The executive lounge

The lounge was impressive.  There is no other way of putting it.  The space has been intelligently used and is divided into different ‘zones’, allowing you to find your own cosy corner such as:

Conrad London St James lounge chairs 1

and

Conrad London St James lounge chairs 3

and

Conrad London St James lounge chairs 2

Food is laid out on a long bar.  During the afternoon, a selection of cakes were available:

Conrad London St James cakes

From 5.30 to 8, the drinks cabinet is opened and a selection of beer, wine and spirits is available.  The staff are excellent and continually ensure that your glass is topped up.  The selection below is only part of what is on offer.

Conrad London St James drink 1

The complimentary food, served until 7.30, was enough to keep me going for the evening.  There were three cold snacks:

Conrad London St James lounge snack 2

and mini bolognaise pies:

Conrad London St James lounge snack

Breakfast

I took breakfast in the main restaurant at Conrad London St James, which is designed as a steak house.  It is very pleasantly designed:

Conrad London St James breakfast room

There is a decent buffet selection along with a list of cooked to order items which are available at no extra cost.  I had a salmon omelette which was excellent.

Conrad London St James breakfast

Finally, here are a couple of shots of the bar:

Conrad London St James bar seating

…. complete with Gerald Scarfe illustrations:

Conrad London St James bar scarfe

…. and here is the seating area off the lobby which is a lot larger than this photo implies:

Conrad London St James lobby bar

Conclusion

Having spent literally 24 hours here (I took a 2pm Hilton Gold late check-out) I have to say that Conrad London St James is a very accomplished property.  The bar, restaurant, lobby bar and lounge are all well designed and, for want of a better word, ‘cosy’.  I was also impressed by my King Executive room – although I cannot guarantee that smaller rooms will have all of the same facilities.

The location is a little out of the way, but with a District Line tube station opposite (and Victoria within a five minute walk) you can get to pretty much anywhere relatively quickly.  My only big concern was the weak mobile signal in my room.

Without a doubt, this is the best Hilton Group property in London and is well suited for business or leisure.  At 80,000 Hilton HHonors points per night it is expensive but ‘points and money’ rooms on certain nights are a great deal at 32,000 points + £98.  It would also be a great way to use the free night voucher that comes with the Hilton HHonors Visa card – Billy Elliott and Wicked are very close if you want a night out that is only a short stroll back.

The Conrad London St James website is here if you want to find out more.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Here’s Rob’s article on the Amex MR to CCG pts and a bit on the PPWB
    https://www.headforpoints.com/2014/09/21/is-club-carlson-the-best-amex-membership-rewards-hotel-partner/

  2. Andrew S says:

    I have also taken to buying a carton of milk to use with the new coffee machines. However staff clearly do not know how to clean the frother nozzle. I would advise anyone to unscrew and clean before putting your milk anywhere near!

    • Lady London says:

      eugggghhhhh. makes you wonder what else in the room they don’t clean properly.

      Wondering if the Hilton public service discount code will work? It’s very well located for a number of government offices.

  3. You did well, I stayed at this hotel on 8th October in an Executive King and the room was nowhere near as nice – or spacious – as yours appears to have been.

  4. But as a Hilton Diamond, the faster wifi was available for free, it wasn’t very clearly explained though. I have no idea if this applies to Golds.

  5. Stephan says:

    Hi Rob, how would you rank it compared to the park lane and Waldorf astoria?

    • The Waldorf is not a W-A, it is a Hilton. Location is more touristy, definitely not as classy. Never been in a room.

      Park Lane is huge, not been in a room for a few years but it needed help then and I don’t think anything has changed. Views obviously excellent and walkable to Oxford Street.

      2nd best option is actually Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge or perhaps Doubletrees Tower Hill and Westminster as these are all fairly new.

      • +1 on HCW.

        Used to be only £53+25k pts before devaluation in Spring 2013.

        Its now £82 + 28k HH pts, and HH Golds can get upgraded to Exec Lounge (unlike CStJ)

      • Stephan says:

        Thanks that was useful insight!

  6. I have booked for one night in November and used the voucher. £322 value from my £750 spend so am happy. Will use the hotel as a base to do a show and have dinner. So thanks Rob for the tip, For the non business traveller these tips and hints really do pack value.

    The room rate does seem hugely inflated and never in a million years would I pay this.

    My last Conrad stay was 10 days in Bali. It’s a lovely hotel but the beach was poor. Whilst enjoyable and comfortable it was not on a par with the Intercon which is a fabulous resort.

    My gold year with HH ends soon and won’t be renewed. HH points are extraordinarily poor value with a 30000 point room oftener doubling to 60000 when the cash difference is as little as £30. I also had the most awful experience with Hilton in August when booked into a towers room in Honolulu. I paid over ‘$800 for the night (2 rooms) paid for by amex delay insurance. The service was appalling from the moment I arrived. Actually there was no service and we humped the 8 bags ourselves to the room!

    The food was mass catering on a biblical scale and pretty desperate. The resort, as it was laughably called, was reminiscent of the TV show Benidorm but without the humour!

    Aside from this I have generally had decent to good service at Hilton and loved the gold benefits but its not enough to keep staying.

    In contrast IHG platinum has been more rewarding in points terms and the paid for ambassador benefits are very good.

  7. Apparently they do paid upgrades to Exec floor access for £89/night, fair bit steeper than the Club Carlson Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

  8. Ah, that view looks awfully familiar. King Executive Room 532, by any chance? 😉

  9. Just a wee update on this, got to hotel yesterday pm for my redemption stay.

    Can confirm that HH Gold just gets upgrade from Superior to Deluxe, which is nice but nothing grand.

    Was offered a v special rate of £74/night (instead of £89) to upgrade further to Exec room with lounge access, but declined as won’t be in the hotel long enough to full benefit or justify the cost.

    The front desk (supervisor??) Luis was extremely helpful, even sending up complementary wine + chocs for a special occasion.

    Will be interesting to see how it compares to my upcoming stay at the Park Plaza Westminster, may end up being a coin toss between them if using points + money. At the moment with the excellent level of service that I received, I would expect the CStJ to be my default choice for central London stays.

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