London at a Price That's Right
The exchange rate means that if you want to stay someplace with style, you're going to spend at least $200 a night. Here's how to do it without hating yourself in the morning.
Details: 64-66 Ebury St., 011-44/20-7259-8570, bb-belgravia.com, from £115 ($169), includes breakfast.
'Hood: South Kensington/Earls Court, within easy walking distance of the Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Harrods, and Hyde Park.
First impression: Base2Stay was opened last April by Robert Nadler, a developer tired of paying for amenities he never used, like gyms and restaurants. What's left are central A/C, flat-screen TVs, and soft linens. (The concept is similar to that of another London hotel, the Hoxton.)
The rooms: Each of the 67 rooms has a kitchenette tucked neatly behind a pair of doors. Food can be ordered from nearby restaurants through the free in-room TV Internet service. Large bathrooms and great light also make the hotel good for long stays.
Plus: Rooms have handmade Italian armchairs that fold out to sleep one or two additional people, at no extra charge.
Minus: While guests praise the beds' comfort, standard doubles have beds that are only five feet wide. Higher classes of rooms have six-foot beds.
Details: 25 Courtfield Gardens, 011-44/20-7244-2255, base2stay.com, from £107 ($157).
'Hood: Marylebone, home to a Saturday outdoor food and fashion market, Cabbages & Frocks.
First impression: Montagu Place costs more than the others, but you get more. Its striking light fixtures, custom artwork, and walnut furnishings were orchestrated by a Glasgow design firm called in after a fire three years ago.
The rooms: The 16 rooms vary in size and are labeled Cozy, Fancy, or Swanky. They're all furnished with dark-wood wardrobes and desks, and suede or leather easy chairs. A soothing palette of browns, tans, and creams shows up everywhere, from upholstered headboards to velour throws.
Plus: The lounge and dining areas are civilized spots to have a drink. Or you can get cocktails delivered to your room.
Minus: Breakfast isn't included in the price. Eat elsewhere--the hotel charges an absurd £12.95 ($25) for a cold buffet of baked goods.
Details: 2 Montagu Pl., 011-44/20-7467-2777, montagu-place.co.uk, from £99 ($145).
'Hood: Bloomsbury, the neighborhood that gave its name to a group of 20th-century artists and writers that included Virginia Woolf. The British Museum and the Russell Square gardens are nearby.
First impression: Although word-of-mouth referrals have kept the hotel busy for 40 years, the owners decided it needed a new look. Renovations completed in 2006 replaced the frumpy floral wallpaper and dingy burgundy carpets with brightly painted walls and modern furnishings.
The rooms: All 43 rooms have built-in blond-wood desks and wardrobes. Some period touches (ornamental fireplaces and moldings) were saved. Bath-rooms, done in jade tile, got thoroughly updated.
Plus: There are four tennis courts in Cartwright Gardens, across the street (borrow a racket at the hotel's reception desk). Guests are given keys to the front door, so they can come and go as they please.
Minus: The three-story hotel has no elevator (there are four ground-level rooms), and the bathrooms are miniscule.
Details: 61-63 Cartwright Gardens, 011-44/20-7387-1551, harlingfordhotel.com, from £110 ($161), includes breakfast.
THE HOXTON HOTEL
'Hood: Hoxton, a hip and gentrifying area near the East End and the Financial District. The bars of Shoreditch and the shops and restaurants of Spitalfields Market are within a short walk.
First Impression: The high-ceilinged, exposed-brick lobby has a minimalist, shabby-chic feel, and the focus is on useful amenities (no gym, no overpriced minibar). "I don't like being ripped off," says owner Sinclair Beecham, cofounder of the British sandwich-shop chain Pret A Manger.
The rooms: The 205 rooms are identical, with wood paneling, flat-screen TVs, and down duvets and pillows. Fridges stock free mineral water and milk.
Plus: Pret Lite Breakfasts (a pot of yogurt, a banana, and fresh orange juice) are left on a hook outside each door. Local calls are 6¢ a minute, calls to the U.S. are 10¢, and the Internet and Wi-Fi are free.
Minus: Great Eastern Street is a heavily trafficked (and rather seedy) strip, so it can be noisy. Request a room overlooking the courtyard or quieter Willow Street.
Details: 81 Great Eastern St., 011-44/20-7550-1000, hoxtonhotels.com. Note that the hotel's pricing structure is modeled on those of budget airlines; rates fluctuate wildly depending on the demand and how far in advance you book. Generally from £59 ($87) if you book a couple of months in advance, includes breakfast. Sales may be cheaper, but beware that last-minute bookings can cost up to $300 per night.
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