Short break - Mercure St Paul's Hotel, Sheffield
PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 December 2015
abacapress/ Filip Gielrinski
After the journey from hell, Jo Haywood finds a serene sanctuary at the heart of Sheffield
Seventy minutes in cattle-truck conditions crushed against the toilet door of the 1.41 York to Plymouth train between a claustrophobic woman on her way to Derby and the aromatic armpit of a large Hallam University student on his way home after a weekend bender in Leeds was not the ideal start to a weekend away. Factor in the gale force winds and brolly-bashing rain that gave me an almost comical one step forwards, two steps back gait on the way to the railway station and it might have started to look as if someone on high didn’t want me to make it to the Mercure St Paul’s in Sheffield.
But I did and, let me tell you, it was well worth the weather-beaten train trauma it took to get there.
This landmark four-star hotel, which enjoys a prime central location next to the Winter Garden, recently underwent a multi-million pound redesign to reflect both the leafy loveliness of the UK’s greenest city and the steely heart of its industrial heritage. And the result is quite remarkable.
Stunning back-lit glass panels, soaring vaulted ceilings and clever, knowingly over-sized accessories make the huge reception-lounge-bar area into a real statement of intent. It’s like someone has taken a giant Kew glasshouse and given it a super-stylish Manhattan makeover (if you can imagine such a thing).
The hotel has 154 rooms – 122 classic and 32 privilege – and nine suites. I found myself in a fourth floor classic with impressive views of the château-like town hall and the shops snaking away up Surrey Street.
It was simply yet stylishly decorated in a pleasingly unfussy way, making the spacious room feel open, contemporary and comfortable. And for those of you who are interested in such things, there were plenty of pillows, the bathroom was clean and well-stocked with towels and the temperature was perfect (a crucial element that few hotels get right).
A delicious three-course dinner awaited me in The Yard restaurant, where the staff were courteous to a fault but the atmosphere was a little too quiet for complete comfort. Yes, it was a windswept winter Sunday and no one with any sense was venturing out very far, but the neighbouring Ego Mediterranean Bar, just a partition wall away, was buzzing, making us hotel diners feel like we had our noses pressed up against the window of a great party we weren’t invited to.
But that’s hardly the hotel’s fault, and certainly not something to be held against the obviously hard-working, always obliging staff – bar one rather brusque, dismissive receptionist who was, thankfully, the exception that proved the rule.
The calm, efficient, thoroughly modern attitude of the staff typifies what the new-look Mercure St Paul’s is all about. It’s a place where style and substance matter equally, where peace and quiet come as standard, and where you can completely escape without being too far from the many wonderful things the exciting city of Sheffield has to offer.
For more information about the Mercure St Paul’s Hotel at 119 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2JE, call 0114 278 2000 or go to mercure.com