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Opened in 2020 as an addition to the London luxury hotel scene, The Guardsman Hotel in St. James offers kings and queens a home away from home. We at Vada Magazine were offered a night’s stay to find out what this small boutique has to offer.
The Guardsman Hotel
As a new build property, on arrival at the Guardsman, then logo is subtle but gold stylised gratings across the ground floor windows mean you may walk past the hotel mistaking it for a members club or private apartment block. Which is in fact the vibe The Guardsman is going for.
Inside, there is a small reception desk and a ground floor with plenty of comfy seating areas, including armchairs and sofas, a curated art collection, and a small library. A spiral staircase takes you downstairs to the dining room, more on that later. Alternatively guests can take the lift up to the accommodation levels. And that is it. Don’t expect a gym, spa, pool or other amenities at The Guardsman. The value proposition is simple: a home away from home with elevated service.
Located a 2 minutes’ walk from St. James tube station, The Guardsman is in an enviable neighbourhood, with immediate access to St. James Park, Buckingham Palace and Westminster. On a nice day, the walk (through the park) to Soho is a 30 minute stroll.
The Guardsman has 53 rooms across a number of room categories. These start with the entry level single rooms, moving up to superior double rooms, deluxe and executive rooms with extra space and finishing touches, and the finally the signature Guardsman rooms, boasting an even larger bathroom area with folding doors into the bedroom so that you can have a bath looking out the windows. Additionally there a handful of bigger residences occupying the top couple of floors.
For our stay, we stayed in a Guardsman room (room number 308). After checking in and grabbing a drink at the bar, we returned to reception to find our key cards (made from wood, an impressive but simple touch) ready for collection. We were shown up to our room and found our bags had already been brought up for us. A quick tour of the room’s amenities meant we knew how to use all the touch-screen room controls including bathroom underfloor heating (which guests need to remember to turn off), in-room Nespresso machine – which has become an expected feature in all luxury lodgings now, and welcome fruit bowl amenity. Gold interior styling and a warming colour palette continue into the room. What stands out most though is the the king size bed with under bed storage drawer – this reminded us of the scene from Cruel Intentions where Ronald hides trying to avoid being caught having fun with Kathryn. The most impressive feature of the Guardsman room is the folding doors which open the bathroom entirely into the main bedroom, meaning sunlight can flood into the bathroom, giving you plenty of light while you bathe in the huge freestanding bath or separate shower (with rainfall and handheld shower heads). With marble throughout and gold touches, this is an enviable bathroom that shouts opulence.
Rating: 5 out 5
As a self-described “location that’s fit for Kings and Queens”, how does the service at The Guardsman service really stack up? Given there are no on-site amenities beyond dining, service is the area for the hotel to really shine. On arrival staff checked us in and remembered my name, so that every subsequent time they saw me, they greeted me by my name and asked how I was doing. During meal times (see below) staff were attentive and friendly at all times, without having to wait too long for anything. So overall we found service tailored and attentive, much how we would expect in all 5-star hotels.
As an added feature, benefiting from the layout of the hotel, guests can take the lift directly from room to restaurant without having to pass through the lobby or public areas, meaning there is an altogether more private feel inside the hotel.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The Dining Room on the lower ground floor serves up breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea (see our follow up review for this latter offering).
We are informed that the dinner menu changes regularly to serve fresh and seasonal dishes – though we suspect some of the British staples on the menu will persist all year round like the beer-battered fish with triple-cooked chips. Aside from the food menu, The Guardsman offers a a well-stocked wine and cocktail menu.
On arrival for dinner, we were offered a complimentary aperitif cocktail, which during our stay was a Queen’s Bee (mixed with Bombay Sapphire gin, lime and honey). This was surprisingly refreshing, so highly recommend to anyone visiting in the near future.
To start we had the basil and ricotta tortelloni, with pine nuts and pour-yourself sage butter (£9.50). There is plenty of extra sage butter, which was ideal to mop up with the freshly baked bread. Main course was the Honey roasted duck breast, served with carrot puree, truffled wild mushrooms, crispy zucchini and Madeira jus (£28.50). We typically chose foods that are tricker to cook at home when dining out, and this is why – duck breast is delicious when cooked just right, crispy on the outside and moist and tender within. Spot on at The Guardsman. We drank a glass of Chateau des Annereaux red wine from Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France (£15.25) to accompany this divine duck. For dessert we chose The broken vegan tart (£9.50) made with exotic fruit cream, coconut sorbet, lime jelly, fresh mango and passion fruit, and a very literal splash of mango puree. The dessert was definitely fun, and we imagine for the chef to prepare as well as for us to eat.
Whilst prices can quickly mount up, The Guardsman offer a seasonal 3-course set menu choice, which is currently priced at £32.50.
The dinner menu was not overly creative or elaborate, and in fact incorporated a number of traditional British dishes. But everything was well cooked, well executed and well presented – we were impressed by the food service.
At breakfast, the direct-to-dining room lift comes into its own. Going direct to the breakfast table without having to traipse through a public lobby or corridor in the morning was as close as getting to the privacy of you own home as is possible in a hotel. The breakfast service itself at The Guardsman is entirely a-la-carte, there is no buffet. We opted for a bit of a weekend treat in the form of a smoked kipper (£13.50) served with potato cakes, poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and toast. The eggs were cooked perfectly, still a little runny inside, and just the right portion size. There are plenty of sweet, savoury and continental options, so plenty for any tastes. Guests can opt to have this in their room too.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The Guardsman offers its guests privacy and personalised service, a combination of which isn’t always available at larger 5-star hotels in London. So if this is what you value from a hotel stay, then The Guardsman is a great choice. With the romantic oversized bath in our room, this could make for a perfect private and romantic city-break to London. And the location is ideal for many attractions and shopping in Mayfair or Regent Street, or of course a drink or delight in Soho, if you do decide to leave the hotel.
Whilst we have rated this top scores in all categories, we do feel the hotel should provide access to other amenities, even if not on site. Our only minor point of note is that we would like the hotel to showcase to guests more its sustainability vision, which is becoming increasingly important. For example, we noted the wooden key card and the large-size bathroom products (reducing plastic usage), but what else is The Guardsman doing.
The Guardsman Hotel is located at 1 Vandon Street, London, SW1H 0AH
For more information or to book, visit guardsmanhotel.com We have seen room rates from £292 for a Superior Double Room. Alternatively, as The Guardsman Hotel is a member of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts marketing group (which is free to sign up for), offering added benefits and different rates for your stay, and at other Preferred Hotels and Resorts across the globe.