St. Ermin’s Hotel: British espionage and bee-keeping

LOCATED in the heart of Westminister, with its historic Victorian red brick exterior and vine-covered metalwork gate, St. Ermin’s Hotel is the ideal setting for many things: afternoon tea with the ladies, meetings with business colleagues, or even the filming of a BBC television drama. A home to British espionage? Now, that’s unexpected.

The entrance to St. Ermin’s Hotel

In fact, St. Ermin’s Hotel is the only publicly accessible establishment in London closely associated with the history of espionage. Little of the hotel’s past history as the haunt of British Intelligence Service MI6, Ian Fleming and eventual defector Guy Burgess is revealed in its Rococo plasterwork or Art Deco styling. Nonetheless, there’s undoubtedly a sense of worldliness and eclecticism that only a hotel with such a intriguing history could possess. Handpicked antiques and collectibles stand alongside Oriental cushions, terracotta wallpaper from Vivienne Westwood and a red-pleated lampshade perched on a pair of duck-webbed feet, for instance.

The lobby at St. Ermin’s Hotel

A sense of luxury permeates throughout. Two-poster beds dressed in crisp cotton and sumptuous and plush furnishings greet you in every room, coupled with The White Company amenities, free wi-fi and free tea and coffee. In addition to the 331 rooms, the hotel also offers 41 splendidly-decked suites and 18 family rooms (with a special St. Ermin’s Secret Agent Package for kids to boot too!)


A restaurant at the hotel

Another fascinating offering is their third floor wildflower terrace. People are not the only beings residing at St. Ermin’s, as their resident Buckfast bees live in the terrace, coined by the hotel as a ‘bee & bee’. There, over 300,00 Buckfast bees settle in hives, after gathering nectar from nearby gardens like St. James’s Park which subsequently go into making honey for the hotel’s kitchens.

The third floor wildflower terrace

Honey isn’t the only ingredient in the kitchens that is produced locally at the hotel itself. The Roof Kitchen Garden also provides fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs – these ingredients act as a fresh source of inspiration for Executive Head Chef Alexander Boyd at The Caxton Grill, the main 72-seater restaurant which serves up a classic British fare.

For a drink or something more informal, or if you’re aching to dabble in a bit of British espionage, the Caxton Bar is your answer. The former gathering spot of the Cambridge Five spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, the Caxton Bar offers light meals, snacks and a bevy of alcoholic delights. Their signature cocktail: the Bowler Hat, made of Sipsmith gin, lemon juice and honey straight from the terrace.

With its mysterious past, central location and frankly unique quirks (the bee terrace, anyone?), there’s nothing quite like St. Ermin’s.

by Kay Leong

St. Ermin’s Hotel, 2 Caxton St, Westminster, London SW1H 0QW
Book at 0800 6350 438 or visit here
Rooms start from £209



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