Home Hotel reviewsHotels in London A five-star stay at The Stafford London

A five-star stay at The Stafford London

This central London hotel has a hidden courtyard, American Bar and penthouse suite

by Sarah Bridge
The Stafford London

A stay at The Stafford

Visiting the Stafford hotel London is like discovering a secret gem just yards away from the bustling heart of the capital. With its American Bar, vast wine cellar, secret passages, World War 2 tributes and Game Bird restaurant, not to mention luxury suites, royal stables and penthouse suites, there is certainly more than meets the eye at this luxury London hotel.

From the front, The Stafford is a grand, luxury hotel just off the historic St James’s street in Piccadilly whose equally grand hotel neighbours include St James’s hotel and club, Dukes London and of course, The Ritz.

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The Stafford London outside terrace

The courtyard terrace at The Stafford London is a great hidden gem for outside drinking and dining

When you arrive at The Stafford, the door staff are extremely welcoming and friendly for such a grand hotel and the lobby and lounge are the very definition of calm, traditional refinement.

The reception at The Stafford hotel London

The reception lounge at The Stafford is calm and refined

The lounge at The Stafford hotel London

The central lounge at The Stafford is ideal for morning coffee, business meetings or afternoon tea

However when you walk through the grand refinement of the hotel, with its beautiful artwork and opulent furnishings, suddenly you come across something rather different: a room where hundreds and hundreds of items, from teddy bears and model aircraft to flags, sport pennants and baseball caps are hanging from the ceiling. Welcome to the famed American Bar at the Stafford.

American Bar at The Stafford London

According to the hotel’s history, during the 1930s most West End hotels in London renamed their bar ‘The American Bar’ in an attempt to attract the business of the increasing numbers of visitors from the US, and they all started serving exotic cocktails such as Manhattans, Sidecars and Martinis.

American bar at The Stafford London

The American Bar at The Stafford in St James’s is uniquely festooned with memorabilia from visiting guests over the years

While most hotels have since renamed their bars, The Stafford remains one of only two in London that have kept the name (the other one being the Savoy).

The American Bar at The Stafford Art Deco area

The American Bar has two sections – the more cosy area in the previous pictures and this classically Art Deco area

But the unique thing about The Stafford’s American Bar is the sheer amount of stuff which is packed into a fairly small space. No inch of the ceilings or walls is left uncovered: there are ties, baseball caps, photographs, model planes and teddy bears; all donated by visitors over the years, many who had relatives with some connection to The Stafford’s war-time years.

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Canadian and American officers even lived downstairs in the wine cellars (of which more later) which were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War and there are many war-time tributes as well as general North American-memorabilia.

Either way, it is a unique place to enjoy some very nice but rather pricy cocktails and is a must-visit for fans of London’s famous hotel bars.

two cocktails at the American Bar at The Stafford London

The American Bar at The Stafford London has an extensive choice of expertly made cocktails

I booked a table for myself and my fellow travel blogger Amanda (of The Boutique Adventurer) for before-dinner drinks. I was shown to my bedroom which was located in the Mews Suite, just a few steps from the main hotel building and which overlooks the courtyard.

Bedrooms at The Stafford

Walking into the suite – officially a Mews Master Suite – was like stepping into my own luxury apartment (which was indeed as big as my flat) and contained an entrance hall, guest WC, walk-in hall cupboard, a huge living room with a desk and two sofas and the bedroom itself, which was equally huge and luxurious.

Book The Stafford on Booking.com

Visit The Stafford on Tripadvisor

bedroom at The Stafford London

The bedroom at my Mews master suite was immaculate and overlooked the pretty courtyard

lounge Mews Suite Stafford hotel

This was my lounge which was too big to capture in one photograph – behind me was a large desk and office space which made it perfect for WFH (working from hotel)

bathroom at The Stafford hotel

The lovely and ornate bathroom had two sinks, a bath, separate shower and all the toiletries and fluffy towels you could wish for (plus a rubber duck)

collection of in room toiletries at the Stafford London

No chance of running out of toiletries here – they restock during the hotel turndown

The main bathroom had a deep, fast-filling bath, separate walk-in shower, loo and two sinks facing one another, all well stocked with luxury toiletries.

It was the kind of room which you instantly filmed to make your friends extremely envious (it worked) and the icing on the cake was a lovely welcome touch of a complimentary bottle of Moet and my ALadyofLeisure.com logo picked out in chocolate, a first.

website name surrounded by petit fours

A hotel first – my website name surrounded by petit fours

It was exactly the kind of hotel room I felt I could stay in for a week. While it was tempting to get straightaway on the Champagne, I resisted and instead spent a very productive afternoon working from the lounge. With fast free wifi and plug points everywhere, it was the ideal WFH (working from hotel) venue and I was pleased that I’d got there super-early to make the most of it.

However as the sun began to set the American Bar was calling, and so it was time for a couple of very nice (if rather pricy) cocktails underneath a variety of flags and other assorted items. Thankfully before we managed to rack up a huge bill at the bar – which at £20 a pop I suspect is easily done – it was time for dinner at The Stafford hotel’s restaurant, the Game Bird.

Dining at The Game Bird restaurant

Game Bird restaurant The Stafford London

The Game Bird restaurant is the main dining spot at The Stafford, although you can also eat at the American Bar and outside in the terrace courtyard too for a more informal option

The Game Bird menu

The menu was clearly laid out and bore the sign of a restaurant which took its food very seriously. The first section, Smoked & Cured, was entirely devoted to smoked salmon from H Forman & Sons (which claims to be the ‘world’s finest smoked salmon’). You could choose from London cure, Beetroot cure or the Balvenie cure – and garnishes included egg, cucumber, dill pickle, mustard dressing, horseradish creme fraiche and soda bread.

There was also a section devoted to steaks: rib-eye, sirloin and fillet, with Cafe de Paris butter, bearnaise or peppercorn sauce to accompany.

The menu at the Game Bird restaurant at The Stafford London

The menu at the Game Bird restaurant at The Stafford London

The rest of the menu was taken up with five starters, including ‘London Particular’ (traditional soup made with split peas and ham), game pate and Caesar salad, while the nine mains were classic, traditional, British fare: pithivier with truffle sauce, dover sole, roasted grouse and beer-battered haddock.

It felt exactly like the place you’d want to really indulge yourself – the menu reminded me of Rules in Covent Garden, one of my all-time favourite restaurants – so I started with the dressed Devon crab and then my dining partner Amanda and I, said at exactly the same time, ‘Why don’t we have the Beef Wellington?’ (it was for two to share) and it was decided.

dressed crab at the game bird

The dressed crab with bread and butter accompaniment

Beef Wellington at the Stafford london

The Beef Wellington main course is for two people sharing and is served at your table for added effect

The dressed crab starter was excellent – I’m not even a huge crab fan but I loved it, and I know that true crab afficianados would have been in heaven – and the Beef Wellington was the ideal dish to have at this type of restaurant, served at the table in great ritual and done to perfection.

The wines chosen by the sommelier were excellent too – he chose two glasses of each colour at requested for each course, and kindly wrote them down on a bit of paper so we knew what we were drinking as we’d gone ‘off-menu’. We were too full for desserts which looked typical British – even reminiscent of school days, with Lyle’s golden syrup pudding being one of them – but enjoyed coffees before heading off to our two vast suites, a real highlight of the stay.

Stafford London breakfast

After a dreamless sleep and gorgeously hot and foaming bath the following morning (with The Stafford’s rubber duck) it was time for a breakfast back at The Game Bird restaurant. Service was prompt, the coffee was excellent and the Eggs Florentine and Eggs Royale were perfectly sized and perfectly cooked.

eggs Royale breakfast at The Stafford

My perfectly-formed cooked breakfast at The Stafford

The Stafford London wine cellar

We were then given a tour of the hotel which every guest should ask for if they’re staying at The Stafford London, as there are so many interesting nooks and crannies which you would miss otherwise.

A definite highlight is the wine cellar which not only houses hundreds of bottles of fine wine, but where American and Canadian troops were stationed during World War II. At the far end of the cellar there is a collection of war-time equipment and newspapers which were left behind and evoke a different time altogether.

wartime memorabilia at The Stafford

Wartime memorabilia in the cellars underneath The Stafford London

The cellars at The Stafford

The wine cellar at The Stafford houses hundreds of bottles of fine wine and is rumoured to be linked by a secret tunnel to St James’s Palace

There are rumours that there is a secret tunnel from these cellars to the Royal Palace of St James’s which is just down the road, and the cellars themselves can be hired out for wine-tastings and private parties.

Our tour continued with a look at some of the other rooms, in particular the Penthouse suite which has an outside terrace, large lounge and office space – increasingly essential these days.

The lounge in the Penthouse Suite at Stafford London

The lounge in the Penthouse Suite

The private terrace at the Penthouse Suite Stafford Lonond

The private terrace at the Penthouse Suite – ideal for outdoor entertaining

Opposite the Mews Suites is the Carriage House, a collection of rooms and suites in a historic 380-year old building, which was once the former stables of British nobleman and politician Lord Francis Godolphin, and at the end, the three-story Gate House which is effectively a whole house in the heart of St James’s.

The view of the Carriage Suites and courtyard from the Penthouse terrace Stafford London

The view of the Carriage Suites and courtyard from the Penthouse terrace

Indeed, what is lovely about the location of The Stafford is that, while the entrance is on a quiet street parallel with the street of St James’s itself, the cobbled courtyard backs straight onto the road via a tiny and discreet passage, so you don’t have to walk through the entire hotel and round every time you want to go out. This means that you can leave your room and be on Piccadilly in less than a minute, and it doesn’t get much more central than that.

Even better, you can impress your friends by walking up St James’s, ducking into a non-descript alley way, and then surprising them with a gorgeous open air bar. A true hidden gem and perfect for outdoor drinking in these current times. And if you can afford to treat yourself to a night here, even better!

Hotel information and to book The Stafford hotel

The Stafford London,16-18 St James’s Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NJ, United Kingdom

Classic rooms start from £340 per night, while rooms in the Carriage House start from £520 and Mews Master Suites start from £1,050.

The Stafford hotel is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, a worldwide collection of luxury hotels.

Book The Stafford on Booking.com

Visit The Stafford on Tripadvisor

The Stafford London is owned by The Stafford Collection, which also owns the excellent Michelin star hotel The Northcote in Lancashire

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