St Ermins Historic Hotel
St Ermins History
St Ermins Division Bell

Our History

As guests walk into the tree-line courtyard, they are not just entering a luxury hotel they are revisiting history. Since opening its doors in 1899, St. Ermin’s Hotel has been reflecting and influencing the history, the people and events in Westminster. 

Groundbreaking architects, covert operations and traitorous meetings involving double agents, the hotel has witnessed and been involved in them all. It is probably no coincidence that the hotel’s proximity to the Houses of Parliament has put St. Ermin’s centre stage in Westminster’s colourful past, present and no doubt future. 
St Ermin’s is built upon the site of a 15th century chapel dedicated to St. Ermin (a derivation of St. Armel). In the mid to late 19th century, Westminster underwent great changes and expansion, resulting in the creation of St. Ermin’s Mansions by E.T. Hall in 1889, the building that now forms the basis of  St. Ermin’s Hotel.

In 1899, the mansion blocks were finally converted into a hotel, the new owners embarked on a major refurbishment, involving the redesign of the interiors. This work was undertaken by the famous Victorian theatre designer J.P. Briggs, who created a dramatic collection of reception rooms with rich plasterwork. This vintage marketing brochure from around 1910 illustrates some of this spectacular craftsmanship, much of which is still in evidence today. Like the present St. Ermin's, the previous owners understood that modern technology enhanced the guest experience, they mention the installation of telephones in all bedrooms, rather than an antiquated bell system.
In 1940 Winston Churchill, held a historic meeting at St. Ermin’s Hotel. He asked a group of remarkable people to join him in ‘Setting Europe Ablaze’ – this elite set, were to become the founding members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive). The SOE, also known as Churchill’s Secret Army, formed the basis of the SAS and took over an entire floor of St. Ermin’s Hotel for its headquarters during WWII, whilst MI6 were stationed two floors above. Churchill, often enjoyed a glass of his favourite Champagne in Caxton Bar, so if you happen to be in Caxton Bar, you can raise a glass to some of the bravest men and women in history.
The hotel’s association with British history continued after the Second World War, when double agent and eventual defector Guy Burgess is heavily rumoured to have used the Caxton Bar to meet his Russian counterpart, where he handed over secret government files. Traces of our secret past can be seen within the hotel such as an original SOE silk, printed with secret coded messages that hangs in our lobby and a special display of original WW11 SOE field equipment.
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A Division Bell hangs in our Lobby, a bell rung to signal MPs that they had only eight minutes to get to the House of Commons to vote for or against a resolution. These bells were all located in what is known as the Westminster Bubble - within eight minutes fast walk back to the Houses of Parliament. The bell is authentic in every detail, aside from the fact that it no longer rings as the practice of calling MPs back to House has been discontinued. However if rumours are to be believed, MPs could use a secret tunnel to get back to Parliament. This tunnel is said to be located under the grand staircase in the Lobby and runs directly to The House of Commons.

Discover More

Roof Garden

Bees & Kitchen Garden

St. Ermin’s’ roofs are literally alive with activity, bees producing honey and a kitchen garden providing fresh produce. 
Westminster Hotel (2)

Caxton Bar

Drink where spies used to meet.
Westminster Hotel (3)

St Ermin's City of Spies Tour

St Ermin's City of Spies Tour: Espionage in London. From £66 / person