Home Hotels Hilton Review: Conrad London St James (Covid Edition)

Review: Conrad London St James (Covid Edition)


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The Conrad London St James is arguably Hilton’s best property in London, but it’s a property I had never visited until recently as I usually prefer to make the most of the fantastic weekend deals that are often on offer at the London Marriott Canary Wharf. On this occasion, Joanna and I were looking for a change of scenery and with the Conrad selling award nights at a very reasonable price, it was easy to decide to see what the property has to offer.

Location

The Conrad London St James has an excellent central London location with a number of major attractions a short walk away (e.g. Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and St James’s Park), St James’s Park Underground (subway) station directly across the road, and Westminster Underground station (which offers direct links to areas such as Mayfair, Oxford St, and Southwark) just a short walk away too.

Click to enlarge

Anyone looking for a relatively quiet but very central London location will be hard-pressed to find a better option.

Booking

As my main hotely loyalty program is Marriott Bonvoy (this is under review) I don’t get to use what Hilton Honors points I have very often so unless cash rates were set ridiculously low, I knew before I even started my search that I’d be using points and not cash for this booking.

These were the choices set out before me:

Conrad London St James

Joanna and I were only staying a single night so we felt there was very little point in booking anything but an entry-level “King Superior” room for 54,000 points.

With the same room costing £204/$270 for cash, I was effectively getting 0.5 cents of value out of each Hilton Honors point I used so, as I value Honors Points at 0.4 cents each, this was a deal I was happy to book.

Hilton Honors Benefits

I hold Hilton Honors Gold Status courtesy of the Hilton Honors Surpass credit card from American Express so most of my Hilton stays come with a number of extras that I probably wouldn’t get if I had no status at all. On this stay, these were the benefits that were made available to me:

Room Upgrade

A few hours before we arrived at the property I checked the Hilton app and saw that we have been upgraded from a “Superior” room to a “Deluxe” room.

Considering the Conrad had been charging 70,000 points/night for this room when I originally booked, I was glad we had chosen to settle for the cheapest option at the time of booking.

Complimentary Breakfast

Hilton Honors Gold Status holders are given the choice of 1,000 Honors points or complimentary breakfast at the Conrad so unless a guest is leaving the property before breakfast is served, it’s a “no brainer” to choose breakfast in place of the 1,000 points.

It’s also worth noting that although the information provided on the Hilton app suggests that Hilton Honors Gold Status holders receive complimentary continental breakfast

…Joanna and I were both offered the full a la carte menu by the restaurant even after I specifically pointed out that I only hold Hilton Gold status.

Complimentary Water

The mini-bar in our room had been emptied of all the usual drinks and paraphernalia that you can usually expect to find, but four bottles of water (two still & two sparkling) had been left behind.

Covid-19 Specific Measures

  • Masks are required in all the hotel’s common areas (except the restaurant and bar)
  • All the rooms are sealed once they have been thoroughly cleaned so it would be obvious if anyone had entered the room after the deep clean has been done (no one is supposed to enter the room between it being sealed and a guest arriving).

  • A significant number of tables have been removed from the restaurant and bar to allow for social distancing.
  • The Blue Boar restaurant is only open for breakfast. Lunch and dinner are being served in the Blue Boar bar where food is served until 9pm and drinks are served until 11pm
  • Elevators are limited to a maximum of two people unless the people in question are traveling in the same group or as a family.
  • Bottles of hand sanitizer and individual packets of disinfecting wipes have been placed on tables in the elevator lobbies on every floor and at the check-in desks.

  • The fitness center is open but access has to be booked in advance through the front desk.
  • The executive lounge is open but is currently only offering soft drinks and water. Evening canapes that are usually served in the Executive Lounge are currently being served in “Emmeline’s Lounge” on the ground floor (between 17:30 and 19:30).
  • The mini-bars in the rooms have been emptied of all items except water.
  • All the rooms have individual packets of disinfecting wipes which guests will find on the bedside tables.

The Conrad London St James

The Conrad London St James is currently undergoing some maintenance work above its main entrance so it’s possible that guests on the lower floors (and overlooking the front of the building) may hear some noise during the week.

We were visiting the Conrad on a weekend and there was no evidence of any workers during our stay.

A few yards inside the main doors of the hotel is where you’ll find the Conrad’s lobby area and check-in desks…

Lobby Area

…and one step up from here is an open lounge area (the Tea Lounge) that sits adjacent to a more confined, lounge area (Emmeline’s Lounge – behind the glass doors in the images below) which is where evening canapes are served to guests who have access to the Executive Lounge.

The Tea Lounge

The Tea Lounge

The Tea Lounge

The Tea Lounge

A King Deluxe Room At The Conrad London St James

Conrad London St James

As you open the main door to the room, a short hallway leads to the sleeping area on the left while the bathroom is off the hallway to the right.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

The sleeping area is a good size (for a city center hotel) and is dominated by a king-size bed.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

Opposite the bed is a large mirror wall with a built-in 42″ TV…

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

…there’s a standard lamp, a small table and a chair in one corner…

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

…and there’s a desk and office chair on one side:

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

Connectivity at the desk is good with the wall offering a home to various inputs that allow guests to connect devices to the TV as well as power outlets that can be used by devices from a variety of countries (including the US).

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

One of my pet hates with a lot of hotels is that they don’t offer power outlets next to the bed but this isn’t an issue at the Conrad. Both sides of the bed have been furnished with power outlets and both sides of the bed have switches that control the room’s lights.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

A King Deluxe room a the Conrad London St James comes equipped with a coffee maker, complimentary coffee pods, milk sachets, and a variety of teas.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

A variety of glasses are provided too…

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

…but with the mini-bar having been emptied of most of its contents, guests will have to bring in their own beverages if they’re to get any use out of the glasses.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

The closet is pretty standard for a city center hotel and it’s where guests will find a robe, a small safe (which is not big enough to take a 15″ Macbook), a kettle, a hairdryer, and slippers.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room

The bathroom is a generous size and offers a large single-sink vanity unit and a separate bath and shower.

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room Bathroom

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room Bathroom

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room Bathroom

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room Bathroom

Of particular note was the water pressure in the shower which was so good that it offered up the best “rain shower” I’ve ever had in a hotel (rain showers seem to promise so much but often deliver very little, but this one was excellent).

Conrad London St James – King Deluxe Room Bathroom

Like most of the major hotel chains, Hilton has committed to removing miniature toiletries from its rooms in the next few years but for the time being, this Conrad is still offering Shanghai Tang toiletries as well as a variety of other items that guests may have forgotten to bring along.

Conrad London St James – In-Room Toiletries & Amenities

Conrad London St James – In-Room Toiletries & Amenities

The Restaurant & Bar At The Conrad London St James

The Conrad London St James is home to the Blue Boar Restaurant and Blue Boar Bar. The restaurant is currently only open for breakfast where a full a la carte menu is offered.

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Restaurant

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Restaurant

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Restaurant

Click to
Click to enlarge

The Blue Boar Bar is where lunch and dinner are currently served (food service ends at 9pm) and with the Conrad situated just a short walk from the heart of London’s political scene, it’s not much of a surprise to discover that the bar has been decorated with a significant nod towards UK politics.

The walls of the bar are adorned with a variety of caricatures depicting famous British politicians (past and present)…

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

…and even some of the furniture is of a style reminiscent of the Houses of Parliament.

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

There’s quite a bit of contemporary furniture too and while the measures taken to facilitate social distancing weren’t immediately apparent in areas of the Blue Boar restaurant, the seating in the bar has clearly been thinned out.

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

Digital menus are the order of the day in the Blue Boar Bar (if you point your smartphone’s camera a the QR code it opens up the menu on webpage)…

Conrad London St James - Blue Boar Bar
Conrad London St James – Blue Boar Bar

…and at the time of this visit, this is the link that was being offered (click the link to view the menus).

The Fitness Center At The Conrad London St James

The fitness center is small so it’s not surprising that guests are being asked to book a time slot to visit as social distancing would be next to impossible otherwise.

Conrad London St James – Fitness Center

Still, the facility may be small but it’s well equipped (it even has lockers) so it should be fairly easy for even the most committed of gym-goers to get in a good workout.

Conrad London St James – Fitness Center

Conrad London St James – Fitness Center

Overall Thoughts

We really enjoyed our short stay at this Conrad and Joanna and I both agreed that we’d happily return.

The location of the property is excellent as it offers easy access to so much that London has to offer (I highly recommend visiting the Churchill War Rooms which are no more than a 10-minute walk away) and it sits just yards away from an underground (subway) station.

The staff at the hotel were all very friendly, the room was comfortable (the bed was good and the curtains did a good job of keeping out the morning sun), and the property has very clearly made a serious effort to make sure that guests feel safe during their stay.

The value of the Hilton Honors Gold status I have courtesy of my Hilton Honors Surpass credit card was never so obvious as when I saw some of the prices on the breakfast menu – continental breakfast – £22/$28 and the full English breakfast – £28/$35 (although the a la carte options were more reasonable) – and it was nice to get upgraded to a slightly larger room than one we had originally booked.

Bottom Line

I’ve now stayed at over 20 hotels across central London and although the Conrad St James is far from being the most luxurious or the most famous, it now has a place on the shortlist of hotels I’ll be checking the next time I’m looking to stay in London.  It’s not flashy, hip, or cool but it offers a very solid experience in an excellent location, and those are two of the most important things I look for when I’m choosing where to stay.

A Favorite Card

The Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card from American Express is a high-end credit card that comes packed with benefits that make this a must-have card for anyone who loves staying at Hilton properties. This card is currently offering a huge 150,000 point welcome bonus (after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months) and offers cardholders Hilton Honors Diamond status for as long as they hold the card. (Annual fee: $450)

Our Favorite Benefits:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • $250/year Hilton resort statement credit
  • Complimentary weekend night every anniversary
  • Membership of the Priority Pass lounge program
  • Earn 14 points/dollar on Hilton purchases

Click for more details on the Hilton Honors Aspire Credit Card

Regarding Comments

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