One of London’s best known classic hotels, the Taj St. James Court Hotel is in the heart of Westminster a mere five minutes walk away from the Houses of Parliament Despite its busy, central location, the Taj St. James Court Hotel is quietly tucked away from the hustle and bustle. Dating back to 1902, the hotel is part of the esteemed luxury Taj Hotel group, which owns over 100 properties across the globe.
A perfect location for sightseeing London’s most iconic monuments and buildings such as Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square, the Taj St. James Court Hotel is a very popular base for international visitors and business travelers alike.
Kind top-hatted doormen welcome you, and the staff at reception are courteous and accommodating. The Taj St. James Court Hotel has an outstanding concierge service that will provide advice and assistance for your stay and recommend restaurants and places to visit across the capital. It is a modern hotel, but old school touches are plentiful. The lobby area is decked out in marble and mahogany. A grand piano sits in the middle and played every evening by a jazz pianist. The hotel’s Hamptons Bar sits at the end of the long lobby with cozy, inviting corners and a side lounge. Pictures of the Queen and photographs and prints from the days of the Indian Raj point to the hotel’s proud British and Indian sense of shared history.
The hotel has 329 rooms and suites with three main varieties of room: classic, executive, and premier. Our very large Premier room was stylishly decorated with rich fabrics, houndstooth carpets, and a large King sized bed with Indian linen sheets. On a very cold evening, the room was lovely and warm. The huge marble bathroom comes with a bathtub, walk-in rain shower. Toiletries are courtesy of Indian Forest Essentials Luxurious Ayurveda range. Soft cotton bath-robes and slippers only add to the feeling of luxurious comfort.
Dining at the Bistro
The hotel has several restaurants. The Bistro is a relaxed dining experience; Michelin-starred Quilon serves gourmet Indian cuisine while Kona offers afternoon tea.
The Bistro has an eclectic seasonal menu that includes traditional British dishes and classic Indian cuisine. You can choose from dishes such as starters of Dorset crab cakes or seekh kebabs and mains of Angus fillet steak or lamb rogan josh. There are many vegetarian options, such as Italian risottos and gnocchi. We opted for the ‘Global Bento Lunch,’ which is proving something of a popular hit. This express bento menu is served daily from 12.30 pm to 4 pm. We had a choice of six international three-course meal selections. These include an ‘English Classic,’ based around a main of battered cod with sides of a scotch egg with curried mayonnaise and a dessert of sticky date and walnut pudding with a Calvados sauce; and an ‘Eastern’ bento box consisting of a starter of Korean kimchi and cucumber salad and a main of chili fish with pak choi with sesame steamed rice.
We started with an appetizer of freshly made houmous and freshly baked bread and chose the Indian ‘Bharat’ Bento box. This delicious lunch came with a starter of samosas with tamarind chutney and cucumber raita and a main of mouth-watering chicken tikka masala with naan bread, spicy potatoes and a dessert of chocolate ras malai (A cheese curd and cream dish flavored with cardamom).
Breakfast at the Taj St. James Court Hotel is a large international buffet with a British/Indian slant. Hot plates of full English breakfasts sit beside Indian staples such as paneer. Eggs are made to order so you can spice up your omelet with ginger and chili. Unlike many hotels, breakfast is a relaxed affair that rolls over past 11 am.
The Jiva Spa
The Taj Hotel’s Jiva Spa opened in 2019 and is the first of its kind in Europe. The spa concept was born out of a collaboration between Taj’s award-winning Jiva and the British lifestyle brand Temple Spa. Located across the delightful courtyard garden of the hotel with its dramatic fountain, you enter the spa through a lift that brings you down into a warm, softly lit area. The main spa area centers around a strikingly designed large vitality pool. The steam room, large sauna, and showers are located beside it. There are two treatment rooms and even a couple’s suite with its bathtub. The spa is open to guests and non-guests alike.
The Jiva Spa offers to enliven holistic treatments and eastern rituals that are rooted in India’s rich heritage of wellness. One of Jiva’s signature experiences is a two-hour treatment called ‘Sushupti’ or ‘Dreamless Sleep.’ The treatment begins with a relaxing foot bath using a natural blend of 22 herbs, honey, and fresh cream. This is followed by a soothing scalp massage. The treatment continued with an indulgent warm bath of milk enhanced with rose essence and rose petals. To top it off, you have a full-body scrub and a relaxation massage, in which hot packs are placed on your body, and it ends with an invigorating face massage. The Jiva Spa also has a couples-only therapy that includes Indian aromatherapy massages followed by a rose petal bath. Next to the spa is a newly renovated fitness center that includes weights and cardio machines and a hairdresser led by celebrity hairstylist Dar—highly recommended.