Sofitel St James, London

sofitel st james 15
A typical Friday – for me – often includes too many lattes and a lot of obsessive compulsive organising for the week ahead. Last Friday was a completely different experience, thanks to an invite from Sofitel to check out their London landmark hotel.

Just a stones throw from Piccadilly Circus (and virtually everything a tourist would desire to see in London), Sofitel London St James is a five-star hotel which combines traditional British design with contemporary style that is – unmistakably – French. As a grade II listed building – with over 125,000 square feet to explore – myself and two lovely fellow bloggers had quite a lot of ground to explore.

sofitel st james 10
sofitel st james 12
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ten room cafe royal
Though Hotel Café Royal has been something of an institution for London’s big hitters for over one-hundred years, a complete overhaul of the space siren-sung me into checking out the hotel’s renovated culinary scene. First, Ten Room, their all-day brasserie.

Occupying what I expect was Café Royal’s former lobby, Ten Room has been reworked as a double-height foyer with spacious tables and red banquettes scattered underneath a palatial mezzanine balcony. Expressing ‘Café Royal’s transition from its famed past to its cosmopolitan present’, executive chef Andrew Turner (Wilton’s) has created an extensive menu of brasserie bests mixed with a few flourishes of razzle dazzle.

Settled in with my lovely lady friend, we were welcomed by a delightful amuse bouche of mushroom ravioli veloutée with truffle oil before deciding on two very different starters. In my corner, a very generously-sized terrine of duck Foie Gras with white grape chutney and rocket (£15) served alongside a slice of toasted brioche. In hers, Loch Duart salmon – cured – with pickled cucumber and ginger (£9). Both dishes were faultless, simple, and refined in the way a starter should be.

Unfortunately, one of our mains did not cut the gravy. My dining companion fared better than myself, ordering a salt-cured shoulder of English lamb with sweetbreads, onions, Paris mushrooms and thyme from lunch menu; one of the most understated and piquant balances of lamb on any plate I have been served in London. For my own main, I ordered veal cutlet Holstein with capers, anchovies and soy beurre noisette thinking that a little something special would be added to the old-fashioned dish to justify its £27 price tag. There wasn’t. While the dish was not bad, per se, there was very little fat (if any) trimmed from the veal itself which made the Holstein, everything considered, too stodgy to warrant a thumbs up.

Be that as it may, the dessert selection confirmed my speculations; the Holstein is a blip on an otherwise remarkable radar. After a small taster of their devilishly sweet brown sugar tart, we ordered their moelleux of Amedei chocolate with caramelised milk ice cream (exemplary at £8) and a coconut sorbet – served as a coconut itself – alongside roasted king pineapple with chilli and rum (£7) which wowed with the most impossibly spirited flavour mash-up.

Ending with petits fours secs (macarons!), glacés (salted caramel!) and tea, I found myself eager to return to the Ten Room in the coming weeks. In this case, one less-than-stellar dish has lost them no brownie points.

ten room cafe royal
ten room cafe royal
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house of rush piccadilly
Before (what happens to curls that get flattened under your coat) / After (what happens when your hair is loved)

Nestled above the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus lies The House of Rush – a haven of hair stylists and beauty therapists at the top of their game. This Monday I paid the postmodern salon a visit to get my neglected ombre hair tweaked and treated under the genius advice of stylist Star.

Rush Salons – as a group – have recently had a relaunch – called You By Rush – for which they have performed an in-depth customer survey to really listen and understand the needs of their clients. After collating all the information, Rush have come up with a selection of looks including dip-dye favourite “The Fashionista”, which was carefully altered to suit my hair needs.

As ombre hair goes, I prefer a more classic-looking gradient of colour as opposed to a strong dip dye, but wanted to see a stronger range of colours between my roots and ends. Due to my hair’s tendency to pick up red tones better than others, we decided to darken my roots, leave the colour alone in the mid-lengths, and blend some lighter and warmer colours on the ends of my hair.

As any lightening of the hair shaft will strip a bit of moisture from the hair, this was the best way to intensify the colour without damaging a substantial amount of hair. For that extra bit of TLC, Star also applied the Fiberceutic treatment by L’Oreal Professionnel. Likened to ‘Botox for the hair’, the Fiberceutic formula contains molecules that search for and attach themselves to areas of damaged keratin (the protein which makes up hair fibres) which then work to seal any gaps and breakages. This isn’t the type of conditioning treatment that sits on the hair shaft and weighs it down, but rather one that protects and plumps it up.

The results – as you can see – speak for themselves.

house of rush
house of rush