You don’t always have to venture far afield to experience a taste of luxury.
Anyone who has walked up to town from the train station in Sheffield – a city many outsiders bewilderingly still associate with smoggy industrial factories and Full Monty-esque deprivation – cannot fail to be impressed when they pass the majestic arch of the Winter Garden and the dramatic curve which swoops down onto the neighbouring Mercure St Paul’s Hotel and Spa.
The sumptuousness here does not end at the architecture.
Step inside St Paul’s at its main entrance, from which you can hear the gushing fountains of the Peace Gardens, and you feel a million miles away from our ‘smoggy Sheffield’.
By removing the cost of travel to another city, a night in a snazzy, four-star hotel such as this suddenly becomes a little more affordable for people like me – who seek a champagne lifestyle on a ‘whatever fizz is on offer at the supermarket’ budget.
And it’s a good time to pay St Paul’s a visit. The venue has just undergone an extensive refurbishment and is now showcasing artwork and design inspired by our beautiful city, on the doorstep of the Peak District.
Back at the main entrance, you’re greeted with a wall covered completely in ‘petrified moss.’ It sounds rather terrifying – but looks gorgeous.
On your walk through the reception area to the Champagne Bar you can tell they’ve made big efforts to bring the outdoors indoors: glass panels feature back-lit leaf vein motifs, the furniture upholstery has an earthy colour scheme inspired by plants in the Winter Garden; and floral metalwork detailing is tastefully scattered throughout the bustling lounge and bar areas.
Until New Year’s Eve, the Champagne Bar – one of the city’s most chic destinations for cocktails and bubbly – is offering a collection of cocktails which also take inspiration from the Winter Garden.
The ‘fire and ice’ menu comprises two hot and two frozen tipples, providing a perfect winter remedy for all occasions. At £9 each they’re pricey but the great atmosphere, table service and fabulous views into the Winter Garden, in my opinion, are well worth treating yourself.
The hotel also has its own restaurant – The Yard – a stone’s throw away from the Champagne Bar. There’s all the usual favourites on the menu, including quality steak dishes and melt-in-the-mouth fish, as well as some local favourites, such as a Henderson’s Relish Pie and posh pork sandwiches. I’d highly recommend their prawn linguine.
With such a buzz going on downstairs, you may find you don’t spend much time in your bedroom. But when you do eventually sink into the cosy mattress under crisp, white sheets, in a beautifully-finished room overlooking those Peace Garden fountains, it’s sheer bliss.
If you manage to get out of bed in the morning at a reasonable hour, the spa facilities are second-to-none and the gym is a great place to un-do any indulgence from the night before.
From my visit, it’s very obvious to me that the Mercure St Paul’s is very proud to be, and indeed inspired by being, a part of Sheffield.
And I’ll tell you another thing – so am I.
If you book dinner in The Yard, bear in mind the Winter Garden lights are switched off at 8pm
The Fire and Ice cocktail menu is available until New Year’s Eve
To book, call 0114 278 2076