LET’S face it – unless you’re a visitor from overseas, most people probably aren’t looking to stay in a central London hotel.

I travel to London for work from time to time, and so I’ve experienced my fair share of budget options. On an April trip, though, I spent a few nights in a four-star place in the heart of the city. I came away with mixed opinions. 

I headed to the Cavendish on Jermyn Street – just across from the extremely bougie Fortnum & Mason store. Located about five minutes from Piccadilly Circus and tucked on a quiet street in St James, the building is almost brutalist in style from the outside. In concrete and glass, it doesn’t exactly fit in with the traditional dark-brick of the street.

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I’ve long been taught not to judge a book by its cover – so I went in with no expectations. After all, despite its modernity, the location of 81 Jermyn Street has been a hotel since 1836.

It’s even been the subject of a BBC documentary, The Duchess of Duke Street, which focused on its famous owner Rosa Lewis – who wasn’t born into London society but worked her way up to run the hotel herself, welcoming poor military officers in to stay for free during the First World War and pushing richer guests to pay up.

These days, the hotel is owned by hospitality firm The Ascott Limited. Some of the current staff would benefit from some training on Lewis’s generosity.

Upon arrival the receptionist told me I would only be getting breakfast on the first morning of my stay, before handing me the key without providing any information on the layout of the hotel – where to find the restaurant, or bar, or gym, for example. Not exactly a welcoming start.

Thankfully, the room provided was more representative of the four-star rating. From the executive room you feel the benefit of that towering brutalist outside shell – with a brilliant uninterrupted view over the London skyline.

Looking over towards the London Eye and north to Soho’s neon lights is a real reminder that this isn’t a value hotel – one night can set you back more than £600, depending on when you visit. Unfortunately, the service broadly does not match that  price tag.

The National: The Cavendish Hotel left me with mixed opinions.

The exception here is the Cavendish’s restaurant, the Mayfair Bar and Grill. Both service and food here are excellent. Our waiter was well clued up on the menu and able to offer wine recommendations, too.

To start, a brilliantly doughy truffle and parmesan bread, followed by a hearty leek and potato soup. For my main, a perfectly cooked sea bass which was up there among some of the nicest fish I’ve eaten.

The restaurant’s large windows allow you to do some relaxed people-watching along the street, as suited-up young people head to the pub after work. It’s a quiet, calm haven in otherwise hectic capital city. Maybe a little too quiet – it’s buzzing outside on a warm April evening, but in here we are one of only three tables in to eat.

The hotel’s bar doesn’t have the same energy. Located in the core of the building, there are no windows and the place is illuminated by office-feel lighting. Staff are charming but not particularly helpful – in fact on both nights I visited, they spent time complaining about other guests and how they might need to cut them off if they got any rowdier.

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That four-star rating and price tag was rattling around my head again.  As for breakfast – on morning one, we headed down and got a table at the pretty standard buffet-style set-up easily enough.

Bizarrely, when I wanted to stir my coffee, I was told there were no teaspoons available. I was stunned – this is London, potentially the tea-drinking capital of the world. And no teaspoons?

As I mixed my machine cappuccino with a tablespoon that price-experience ratio was once again playing on my mind. That feeling returned when I came back for breakfast the next day, only to be told that we weren’t booked in.

After some debate, we were seated – but in a hotel filled with guests from overseas, I wondered how a tourist with poor English would manage in that situation. 

Aside from the strange lighting that wouldn’t be out of place in an airport boarding lounge, the interior of the Cavendish is pleasant – neutral colours, clean communal spaces and rooms and tasteful, if a little dated.

Because of its size and lack of windows in central areas, it gives the feel of being separate from the chaos of the city. If you have the money and want somewhere to refresh after a day walking the mean streets – or working – the Cavendish could be an option for you.

Despite that I can’t help but think that other central hotels with a similar price tag would offer superior service.