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London Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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41 Hotel London
41 Buckingham Palace Road
London
England SW1W 0PS
Tel: 44 20 7300 0041
info41@rchmail.com
www.41hotel.com

It "feels like an exclusive British club" at this brick and limestone Georgian building that once housed debutantes attending parties at nearby Buckingham Palace. "First-class" staff make sure you "never have to hail your own cab. Decor is "crisp and posh"; black-and-white guest rooms have mahogany furnishings and baths with rain showers. The Library Restaurant, at sister hotel The Rubens at the Palace—also in the same building—is "good but not memorable."

(30 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Andaz Liverpool Street London
40 Liverpool Street
London
England EC2M 7QN
Tel: 44 207 961 1234
info.londonliv@andaz.com
www.london.liverpoolstreet.andaz.com/hyatt/hotels/andaz

No matter that many still refer to this hotel as the Great Eastern (its name from its inception in 1884 as one of London's finest railway hotels); in 2006, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts rebranded it under their new "big boutique" Andaz label. And big it is, with 267 bedrooms, five restaurants, and four bars, including a pub and Japanese and fish restaurants. There is no concierge or reception desk; in fact, there's no lobby at all. Instead, kick back and enjoy a vino in the Living Room, where you can meet with a member of the staff who will check you in there or on the walk to your room, on a handheld PC. The bedrooms have warm, muted tones and giant beds offset by the modernist feel of the ergonomic work desk, Eames chair, and Jacobson lamp. The best rooms are 374, 474, and 104 (all larger corner rooms with better views, at no extra cost), where Kate Moss and her girlfriends hang out from time to time. Andaz also ticks the green boxes: The bathrooms use 80 percent less water than your average hotel, the lights use less electricity, and the kitchens serve local produce. What's more, Andaz Liverpool Street plugs into its trendy neighbors in nearby Shoreditch by inviting them round to do comedy turns, music gigs, and art installations. It's this approach, along with the perfect pairing of the graceful old building and the bold new spaces (check out the modern Atrium Gallery and the Rotunda), that has this hotel buzzing with people again, just as in its Victorian heyday.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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The Arch London
50 Great Cumberland Place
London
England W1H 7FD
Tel: 44 207 724 4700
reservations@thearchlondon.com
thearchlondon.com

This 82-room sleeper hit in Marylebone occupies seven Georgian town houses and two mews houses. Although the rooms are slightly small and look out only over rooftops or the street, they are well conceived, with luscious furnishings in various color schemes. For instance: thick sage-colored silk curtains, a suede headboard, purple patterned cushions, and a polka-dot blanket. Some bathrooms have rain showers with gold mosaic floors, and fragrant Malin+Goetz products. Guests will appreciate underrated and oft-omitted in-room details like instant free Wi-Fi and a U.S.-format electrical outlet. An attractive bar-restaurant, with leather and velvet seating, shows off an open kitchen producing modern bistro fare such as chicken liver parfait and Thai beef salad, and memorable breakfasts such as the portobello mushrooms and poached egg on sourdough. Contemporary art is prominent, from a looped video above the reception desk to the London landscapes by draftsman Marcus James in the library, where one can take afternoon tea by a fireplace. The cheerful, efficient service is a highlight.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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B+B Belgravia
64–66 Ebury Street
London
England
Tel: 44 207 259 8570
info@bb-belgravia.com
www.bb-belgravia.com

The cost of real estate in this upmarket neighborhood doesn't bear thinking about, but at B+B Belgravia—a duo of Georgian townhouses on a residential street—you could convince yourself that you're at home, and a fine one at that. Belgravia's 21st-century makeover of the bed-and-breakfast concept stripped away chintzy assaults on lodgers' senses—and that uneasy feeling of being charged to stay in some old lady's spare room—in favor of the most minimal of decor. A small lounge area, with checkered floor, black leather sofas, and white chairs, has a flat-screen TV and a complimentary-coffee machine that whips up a passable latte. Breakfast is cooked-to-order in an open kitchen, adding a touch of domesticity. The 17 guest rooms are done in shades of mushroom, cream, and white, with flat-screen TVs and free Internet access. Attic rooms don't have the tall floor-to-ceiling windows of the ground floor, but they do have a cottage-like look and lovely views. It's quieter up there, too—light sleepers on the lower floors should request the rear suites, as the hotel is situated on a sometimes bustling street.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Baglioni Hotel
60 Hyde Park Gate
London
England
Tel: 44 207 3685700
reservations@baglionihotels.com
www.baglionihotels.com/pages/eng_hp_londra.jsp

Despite its self-declared status as the city's latest hot spot, this is a solidly pleasant new hotel for anyone who wants to do a lot of shopping (Harrods and Harvey Nichols are a ten-minute walk away, Kensington High Street is five) or surf the city's groovy zones from a single central location (Notting Hill and Soho are almost equidistant, Kensington Gardens is just across the street). The 68 rooms have a nocturnal look: ebonized wood floors and furniture and a color scheme of black, mocha, and taupe. Black-and-white portraits of Italian movie stars are hung in artful groupings, there's an en suite espresso machine, and the 24-hour room service slings some first-rate lasagna. A top-shelf spa and gym complex and a good Italian restaurant add to la dolce vita. Beware the vertiginous phone charges, even for local calls.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Base2Stay
25 Courtfield Gardens
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7244 2255
base2stay.com

This 67-room town house hotel in Earls Court offers spectacular value for the money, and nothing about it sighs "budget." Rooms are snug but well designed, with oak-finished desks, cocoa brown wall-to-wall carpeting, beds with crisp white cotton duvets, and tidy kitchenettes that include an electric kettle, a microwave, and a fridge. Baths are kitted out with heated chrome towel racks and large showers (but not tubs). Though this may sound vaguely dormlike, it isn't, thanks to stylish touches such as framed black-and-white photographs, organic toiletries, and camel-wool windowpane-check curtains on a brushed metal bar. Special kudos for the in-room information guide that not only explains how the air-conditioning and free-Internet keyboard work but also offers a comprehensive list of nearby restaurants, bars, and cafés. The cheerful young staff clearly love working here, too.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Berkeley
Wilton Place
Knightsbridge
London
England SW1X 7RL
Tel: 44 20 7235 6000
reservations@the-berkeley.co.uk
www.the-berkeley.com

The Berkeley's Knightsbridge location—home to Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and every luxury brand known to man or woman—has firmly established it as one of the most fashionable hotel addresses in London. The 214 rooms (60 of them suites) were each inspired by a top designer; for example, the Chelsea Suite, with a decor of mahogany wood and deep browns, tips its hat to David Collins. A recent refurb by interior designer Helen Green has leant a dramatic air to some of the rooms, with dark reds, monochrome, and objets d'art, while others are traditional with a modern twist, in shades of green and silver paired with mahogany and crystal-patterned mirrors. The top and second floors have terraces and balconies overlooking a church rather than bustling Knightsbridge. Our favorites include room 415, for its exquisite green color scheme and traditional hand-crafted English furniture; and room 110 for its spacious balcony (fresh air for a fraction of the price of a terrace suite). The accommodations vary in size: Rooms start at 264 square feet, and suites start at 431square feet. Other winning touches are the top-floor pool—it has a retractable roof that opens in fine weather—with stunning views across Hyde Park and beyond; two famed chefs in eponymous restaurants (Marcus Wareing and Pierre Koffmann); and the Blue Bar, with its "Lutyens blue" palette (a lavender shade) by designer David Collins. And while we concede it's a mere fashionista gimmick, we love the Prêt-à-Portea, a chic high tea service that includes tiny cookies and sweets intricately decorated to resemble designer pieces, such as a Louboutin stiletto.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Bermondsey Square Hotel
Bermondsey Square
Tower Bridge Road
London
England SE1 3UN
Tel: 44 870 111 2525
Fax: 44 870 111 2526
Tube: London Bridge, Borough, or Bermondsey
www.bermondseysquarehotel.co.uk

Comfy, funky, affordable, and cool, the Bermondsey Square Hotel is yet another sign of encroaching trendiness in the up-and-coming Bermondsey neighborhood south of the Thames. The hotel's design aesthetic is winkingly Pop-mod, with 1960s references showing up everywhere: plastic bubble chairs in the lobby, suites named for popular Beatles-era songs, and a buzzing restaurant called Alfie's Bar and Kitchen after the cult 1966 Michael Caine film. Retro influences aside, the hotel's 80 rooms offer forward-thinking amenities, including Apple televisions, free Wi-Fi, seriously plush Mattison beds, and luxe bathrooms with rain showers. Be sure to request a room far from the elevators, which can be distinctly audible when the hotel is busy. Or spring for one of the four loft suites with terraces overlooking the London cityscape (one even boasts a private outdoor hot tub); they are surprising affordable at about $340 per night. Bermondsey's increasingly hip zone of shops, restaurants, and pubs compensates for the hotel's being a bit out of the way (the West End is a 15-minute Tube ride), and the Southbank Centre and Globe Theatre are within a comfortable walk. Make sure to hit Alfie's for a seafood, cheese, or savory-pie "board," sourced at nearby Borough Market and ideal for an afternoon bite with a cocktail or coffee. Weekends, one of the city's largest flea markets moves into the square right outside the hotel for your browsing pleasure.—Siobhan Adcock

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Boundary
2–4 Boundary Street
London
England E2 7JE
Tel: 44 20 7729 1051
info@theboundary.co.uk
Tube: Liverpool Street or Old Street
www.theboundary.co.uk

Terence Conran's Boundary hotel follows hot on the heels of a slew of bars, galleries, and private members' clubs that have settled into the painfully cool Shoreditch neighborhood in east London. This Victorian red-brick warehouse has been transformed into 12 stylish rooms and five suites as well as an eponymous subterranean bar and restaurant serving classic British and French dishes; an upscale version of a typical English "caff" called Albion, offering fish and chips, pies, and puddings; and a rooftop terrace with an open fireplace for those hardy enough to brave the British climate. Boundary's lodgings strike an excellent balance between top-line design and homey city chic. Each room is inspired by a great designer, complete with signature pieces such as the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman or David Tang's near-psychedelic chinoiserie (his suite will have you either basking in Oriental reverie or climbing the walls, depending on your aesthetics). Choose from Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, Bauhaus, and, of course, Conran himself. The rooms are surprisingly spacious for an urban hotel (from 334 to 393 square feet), while the duplex suites are positively palatial (from 470 to 662 square feet). We suggest an upgrade to any of the corner rooms, which have no less than six sash windows and are well worth the extra 30 quid ($50). No-nonsense details like discounts for Sunday nights and long stays, free Wi-Fi, eco-friendly climate control, and underfloor heating in the bathrooms push the envelope, making Boundary a most appealing alternative high-ender for style-conscious travelers focused on visiting the galleries, bars, and shops of Shoreditch—or for those who have appointments in the City but can't bear the idea of staying somewhere business-boring.—Vanessa Able

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Brown's Hotel
Albemarle Street
London
England
Tel: 44 207 493 6020
www.brownshotel.com

This genteel hotel, established in 1837 by Lord Byron's valet and then bought by James Ford, is famous for hosting the first-ever phone call, when Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his invention, and for being Mowgli's birthplace—Kipling wrote The Jungle Book here. Reopened in December 2005 after a $30 million–plus overhaul, its future is now as bright as its past. Credit Sir Rocco Forte, whose generally divine group of luxury properties benefits from his designer sister Olga Polizzi's eye. Though choice fittings like oak paneling, stained glass, and gilt mirrors have been preserved, the musty Victoriana has disappeared. The 117 guest rooms are handsome in shades of tobacco, wine, and cream (this always was a gentleman's retreat), with clean-lined custom furniture and some mid–20th-century vintage pieces. The Donovan Bar—riffing off Berlin's Helmut Newton Bar—has Brit photographer Terence Donovan's work on the walls and a leather bar by Bill Amberg. Even the Grill has gone contemporary, dropping its stuffy dress code, but still offering a daily roast. A gym and spa (now open to nonresidents) are there to work off scones from the famous Brown's tea. That's progress.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Claridge's
Brook Street
London
England
Tel: 44 207 629 8860
info@claridges.co.uk
www.claridges.co.uk

Claridge's hotel is a 203-room Victorian classic with a number of high-profile collaborations under its belt. Most recently, it's been cozying up to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who in June 2010 enlivened five of the hotel's rooms and suites with her signature bold florals and animal prints. Previously, NYC über-decorator Thierry Despont created the Deco foyer with its giant Murano glass Medusa head chandelier; London über-decorator David Collins did the rock-and-fashion–hangout cocktail bar with its adjunct Macanudo Fumoir; and the Queen's nephew, David Linley, designed two suites (one Art Deco; one traditional late 19th-century). The other rooms are Mae West meets Louis XV, with Hollywood brocades and straight-up English country chintz, or wood-paneled-and-tartan Scottish castle, their formality softened by a faint but distinct aura of decadence. There's also Gordon Ramsay restaurant, a La Prairie spa-ette, and a ton of extra services on request—because hip as it may be (Kate Moss celebrated her 30th birthday here), Claridge's remains one of this city's exemplary grand hotels.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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The Colonnade
2 Warrington Crescent
London
England
Tel: 44 207 286 1052
rescolonnade@theetoncollection.com
www.theetoncollection.com

London's leafy Little Venice, while pretty, is more "Little" than "Venice," consisting as it does of one canal. This brace of handsome Victorian mansions—a former hospital—is a couple of blocks away from that single stretch of water in the blah-but-getting-hipper residential neighborhood of Maida Vale. But an in-betweeny, non-tourist area is a small price to pay for, well, a small price, and this place delivers quite a bit for the buck. The 43 rooms are done in Christmassy pine-and-red-and-white tones, or shades of brown with velvet and dark wood, and come with a/c and WiFi, robes and slippers, fruit, tea and coffee, satellite TV and 24-hour room service—and the sheets are Frette. Improbably, JFK and Freud both stayed here and have bequeathed their names to suites; the former containing the very bed in which Kennedy slept. If suites are beyond your budget and the hotel's not full, they'll probably upgrade you—if not, you may find yourself a bit squashed and taking refuge in the incongruously mod but still cozy E Bar, noshing on tapas.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Connaught
Carlos Place
Mayfair
London
England W1K 2AL
Tel: 44 20 7499 7070
info@the-connaught.co.uk
www.the-connaught.co.uk

You have to do something pretty special to stand out beside Claridge's and The Berkeley—the sister properties in the Maybourne Hotel Group's triumvirate of super-luxury London hotels—yet the Connaught managed it in summer 2008, causing quite a stir when it reopened after a $105 million face-lift. Its new bar, the Coburg, designed by Parisian India Mahdavi, instantly became the place to go for cocktails. The black and taupe surroundings are furnished with antique chairs reupholstered in burgundy, mink, and purple fabrics, and four black-and-white cameos by Julian Opie. Acclaimed French chef Hélène Darroze has replaced Gordon Ramsay, taking charge of the hotel's cuisine. The renovation project continues until December 2009, with the unveiling of a new gym and spa. Designer Guy Oliver has retained the Edwardian grandeur in the 117 rooms, with a traditional palette of light greens, silvers, and ebony, but he's also added some quirky pieces here and there, such as a funky red-and-gold lacquered cabinet. For those who enjoy being pampered, the staff-to-guest ratio of 3:1 ensures service with all the trimmings.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Covent Garden Hotel
10 Monmouth Street
Covent Garden
London
England WC2H 9HB
Tel: 44 20 7806 1000
covent@firmdale.com
www.firmdale.com

There are two types of luxury hotel in London: Grand old hotels like Claridge's and the Dorchester make bold gestures, lavishing posh bars, celebrity-designed rooms, and liveried doormen on guests. Then there's the quiet, intimate luxury of the Covent Garden Hotel, a 58-room bolt-hole in the West End, whose only extravagance is its uncanny grasp of what its guests want: to be left at peace and in great comfort. The flagship of the stylish Firmdale Group of hotels, the Covent Garden has a more traditional demeanor than its contemporary cousins the Soho Hotel and the Haymarket, but the English country decor never feels stuffy. The lobby is understated, offering only a smattering of seats; instead, there's a good all-day brasserie and, upstairs, a cozy "drawing room" where guests can have tea, read the newspaper, or entertain friends in a setting of plush sofas, fireplaces, and an honesty bar. With the exception of the least-expensive category (queen rooms, which are only 118 square feet; the next category up is 205 square feet), rooms are large and extraordinarily comfortable, each individually designed with brightly patterned textiles and wall coverings, original artwork, and a mix of traditional and contemporary furniture. There's also a well-edited minibar, flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi, and a large marble bathroom with dual sinks, a tub, and a shower stall with terrific water pressure. Huge windows overlook the street (either Monmouth Street or Shaftsbury Avenue), providing plenty of daylight and, despite soundproofed windows, a not insignificant amount of hubbub. Well, you're in the city, after all—and a damn near perfect location at that, with theater, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife just out the door.—Peter J. Frank

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Dean Street Townhouse
69–71 Dean Street
Soho
London
England W1D 3SE
Tel: 44 207 434 1775
info@deanstreettownhouse.com
www.deanstreettownhouse.com/

Dean Street Townhouse, which opened its doors in November 2009, is a four-story hotel housed in two connecting Georgian buildings in buzzing Soho. The property's 39 guest rooms are wood-paneled and/or wallpapered in hand-painted florals, with pretty shuttered windows and super-soft carpets. The decor is traditional—many of the huge, pillow-strewn beds are four-poster, and there are period-style taps in the black-and-white–tiled bathrooms (some of the larger bedrooms also have roll top tubs). For those looking for a hip and central bolt-hole on a budget, Dean Street's "Tiny" rooms are a bargain, with the same attractive decor as the larger rooms (opt for the cute room 6, up a winding spiral staircase, decorated in shades of blue). If you are staying for a while, book larger rooms 32, 15, or 10. The hotel's excellent brasserie-style restaurant (with banker's lamps at the bar, red leather banquettes and cheeky Brit art on the walls by the likes of Peter Blake and Tracey Emin) serves updated British staples like roast chicken with sage and onion stuffing and luscious treacle pudding. There's also a laid-back parlor with rich wine wallpaper and comfy armchairs—it's no surprise that this place is owned and run by the same people as Soho House.—Giovanna Dunmall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Dorchester
Park Lane
London
England
Tel: 44 207 629 8888
info@thedorchester.com
www.thedorchester.com

After a multimillion-pound refit, completed in 2003, the Park Lane dowager isn't her blousy old self anymore (some of the 250 rooms were getting a bit droopy—as tends to be the case with anyone born in 1931). Now all is freshly English-countrified with Colefax & Fowler and Zoffany fabrics and papers, with custom-made fruitwood and mahogany furniture alongside the antiques. There's also (very unrural) connectivity centered on an Internet-DVD-CD-printer-scanner-fax-combo machine (seriously), attached to 42-inch plasma TVs in the top 90 rooms and flat-screens elsewhere. The hotel's been hiring, too—a team of e-butlers and Vivienne Westwood's preferred florist are now on staff. Bathrooms are lovely, in Art Deco-style Carrera marble with windows, and, yes, there's quite a spa. The Grill Room is a riot of tartan, but the poor Oriental—despite being London's first Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—didn't make the cut. Instead there's David Tang's sumptuous China Tang restaurant with mirrored pillars, highly lacquered surfaces, and carp murals, and, more recently, an Alain Ducasse restaurant. Like its sisters, the Meurice and Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Beverly Hills Hotel in L.A., this is as grand as a hotel gets.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Dukes Hotel
35 St. James's Place
London
England SW1A 1NY
Tel: 44 20 7491 4840
bookings@dukeshotel.co.uk
www.dukeshotel.com

Dukes is tucked away down a cobbled cul-de-sac, a stone's throw from Prince Charles's official London residence, Clarence House, where Princes William and Harry bed down when they're in town. You'll be seduced by this place as soon as you see its pretty doorway and cool, calm interior—it's like entering a grand old library, all hush but without the stuffiness. The Dining Room (serving traditional dishes such as guinea fowl and beet terrine), Drawing Room, and Dukes Bar have understated, classic decor, with Queen Anne chairs, rich wallpaper, luxurious soft furnishings, and oil paintings. Bedrooms come in silvery grays, blues, and greens, and the suites have spacious living rooms with plush sofas and majestic dining tables fit for high-class dinner parties or high-powered business meetings. The rooms were modernized in 2007, so now there's Wi-Fi and iPod speakers alongside the stately decor. The best room, of course, is the Penthouse Suite, with its private balcony overlooking Green Park. Down in Dukes Bar, the signature cocktail is the classic martini, prepared like a sacred ritual table-side with a crystal atomizer.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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The Egerton House Hotel
17–19 Egerton Terrace
London
England
Tel: 44 20 758 92412
infoEG@rchmail.com
www.egertonhousehotel.com

Close to Harrods and the Natural History Museum, this Victorian town house is "warm and cozy" and has artwork by Picasso, Matisse, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Done in neutrals or pastels or deep turquoise, individually designed rooms "add to the charm of the hotel." The Drawing Room is known for afternoon tea, the bar for martinis. "The service was genuine—the staff could not do enough for us."

(28 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Four Seasons Hotel London
Hamilton Place
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7499 0888
Fax: 44 20 7493 1895
www.fourseasons.com/london/index.html

How do you reinvigorate a hotel whose problem is not the service it delivers (always impeccable) but the feeling of predictable blandness? The solution for this 41-year-old Mayfair landmark was to undergo a bone-deep refit, apply a sharp jolt of Italian verve, and add some classy English undertones. The result? Cool luxury in the 192 rooms (plentiful marble and mirrors) and a sexy new lobbyside venue—for all-day grazing and imbibing that deflate previous signs of stuffiness. A series of salons in genteel country house tones connects to a bar and a restaurant, Amaranto, designed in an opulent Italian style (cardinal scarlet mixed with dark wood and, again, a lot of mirrors). You can move from the cucumber and smoked salmon finger sandwiches of afternoon tea to the inventive Italian dinner menu by Adriano Cavagnini (previously of the Hotel Eden in Rome) and arguably London's deepest Italian wine list. Moreover, each wine can be bought by the glass (with a two-glass minimum) so you can skip joyfully from region to region.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Goring
Beeston Place
London
England SW1W 0JW
Tel: 44 207 396 9000
reservations@goringhotel.co.uk
www.goringhotel.co.uk/

Still run by the family that opened it in 1910, this "elegant property very much like a private English home" is adjacent to Buckingham Palace. "Small rooms" are individually decorated with "lots of chintz and bold colors." The restaurant specializes in British staples such as Beef Wellington and steak and kidney pie. "The staff are exceptional," providing children with gift bags on their pillows.

(71 rooms)

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Grosvenor House
Park Lane
London
England W1K7TN
Tel: 44 207 499 6363
www.londongrosvenorhouse.co.uk

Perfectly located on Park Lane, the historic Grosvenor House, emerging from a four-year makeover, emanates a cocooning atmosphere of well-trained professionalism. Only some vestiges of its glamorous Jazz Age heyday have been retained intact—most visibly the classic entrance colonnade joining the two towers housing the 443 rooms. Yet the richly hued refurbishments of the well-sized rooms and bathrooms are styled for mainstream appeal: patterned carpets, thick drapes with swags, and English bath salts for the tub. In the reception areas, however, the invitingly colorful luxe decor is slightly diminished by lackluster contemporary color photography and new woodwork with an incongruously pallid hue. The Bord'eaux brasserie serves terrific cuisine from southwestern France in a cavernous space (the piped in music veers erratically from Piaf to rap). The more formal dining option is Corrigans, but allow time for the truly excellent English tea in the Park Room, overlooking Hyde Park.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Guesthouse West
163-165 Westbourne Grove
London
England
Tel: 44 207 792 9800
www.guesthousewest.com

Though it bills itself as a bed-and-breakfast, Guesthouse West is light-years from the quilted floral polyester bedspreads and balky plumbing that often define the category in London. Located in trendy Notting Hill, this appealing 20-room inn has a friendly laid-back vibe, clean contemporary good looks, and a groovy lounge serving decent tapas. Rooms marry the tactile (teak wardrobes, down comforters, potted orchids, and superhip REM toiletries) with the high-tech (flat-screen TVs, CD/DVD players, and Wi-Fi throughout). Less successful is the anemic and overpriced breakfast buffet.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Halkin
Halkin Street
London
England SW1X 7DJ
Tel: 888 425 5464 (toll-free)
Tel: 44 20 7333 1000
info@halkin.como.bz
www.halkin.como.bz

Each floor at this hotel near Hyde Park was inspired by the five elements. "Very modern rooms" have pale-cream fabrics, wood veneers, and "excellent marble bathrooms." Thai restaurant Nahm serves curries, roast duck, and longan salad with pickled ginger. "We were impressed by the concierge and doormen, who were super at giving advice and getting taxis."

(41 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Haymarket Hotel
1 Suffolk Place
London
England SW1Y 4BP
Tel: 44 20 7470 4000
haymarket@firmdale.com
www.firmdale.com/index.php?page_id=8

If style is high on your list of priorities, then look no further than the Haymarket. This 50-room hotel in a landmark building by John Nash, the architect behind most of Regency London, oozes panache with a dash of quirkiness. But that's only to be expected from dynamic husband-and-wife team Tim and Kit Kemp, whose Firmdale Hotels group includes the Soho Hotel, the Covent Garden, and Number Sixteen. From the lobby—where visitors are greeted by a towering stainless-steel sculpture by Tony Cragg and London landscapes by John Virtue—to the bold lighting and gilded columns around the 55-foot swimming pool, every room packs a punch. The bar and restaurant faces London's buzzy Haymarket neighborhood with its theaters and clubs and is a good spot for people-watching. The rooms and suites have painted antique furniture, French windows reminiscent of a Parisian apartment, and understated vases of country flowers. Muted shades serve as a background to a bold stripe or floral pattern in pink, turquoise, or yellow. The luxurious bathrooms are designed in granite, oak, and glass and have flat-screen TVs for tub viewing. Bag a room on the first floor, where there's a wooden-decked terrace overlooking an enormous skylight into a beautiful conservatory, with a large painting of a forest by Paul Winstanley.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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High Road House
162 Chiswick High Road
London
England
Tel: 44 280 742 1717
www.highroadhouse.co.uk

Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House, is known both for his empire of London brasseries and his private clubs. His latest venture is in the West London enclave of Chiswick, where chic shops and restaurants are replacing the humdrum storefronts. Chiswick is also home to many television and music companies, so it's no surprise that High Road House has quickly become the gathering spot for media types and their entourages. Upstairs, the 14 guest rooms—with their whitewashed walls, plump Frette bedding, and old-fashioned sinks and toilets—suggest a stylish artist's garret. The friendly staff and the excellent brasserie (run by a River Café protégé) are added bonuses, as is the access to the club's private dining room, "playroom" (with pool table and plasma TVs), and quiet meeting areas. The one drawback: It is a bit of a hike from Chiswick to central London.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
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The Hoxton
81 Great Eastern Street
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7550 1000
info@thehox.co.uk
www.hoxtonhotels.com

For those who thrive on Hoxton's galleries, garment wholesalers, hip clubs, and swank bar-restos (and can handle blighted, traffic-heavy Great Eastern Street), this is a second home. Wood fires blaze at either end of the glass-fronted, bare-brick-walled, polished-concrete-floored lobby. A flock of papier mâché bird lights hovers overhead. A ruckus spills from Hoxton Grille, the groovy brasserie. Under the glass check-in desk is a small snack shop. This lodge is, in short, for the young. Compact though they are, the 205 rooms are a nice surprise, with Frette sheets and duck-down duvets, flat-screen TVs, AC, and Wi-Fi. Fridges are stocked with free milk and mineral water, and the coffeemakers are for use with the banana, OJ, and yogurt delivered in a brown bag every morning. Bathrooms have showers, Pears soap, and lots of white towels. A sign says: “Hotels ask you to reuse your towels to save the environment (their money more like). So why don't they give you enough room to hang them up (we do). P.S. It's good to save the planet”: Urban Lodge in a nutshell. It's all the brainchild of a Pret à Manger sandwich shop cofounder, Sinclair Beecham, and he plans more. The further ahead you book—via the website—the lower the room rate goes.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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InterContinental London Park Lane
One Hamilton Place
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7409 3131
ichotelsgroup.com

When you enter the lobby—gleaming with chandeliers of cascading Swarovski crystals, opulent with plump red velvet ottomans, and subtly fragrant with elegant floral displays—it becomes clear that the InterContinental London Park Lane's $157 million renovation has not been an extreme makeover. The hotel is evidently too confident of itself and its loyal clientele to have abandoned the classic hallmarks of luxury for modernist fads. The snug rooms remain classically furnished, with fresh chintz and Bang & Olufsen sound systems that also extend to the bathrooms. The walls are hung with art commissioned to evoke the local culture, tacitly reminding you that Buckingham Palace is practically next door. The buzzy new restaurant, Theo Randall at the InterContinental, serves stylish interpretations of regional Italian food; for more casual nosh, Cookbook Café deliciously reinvents familiar British and American standbys. A new spa, run in partnership with Elemis, will open later this month, and for suite occupants and those willing to pay a $160 premium, the renovated Club Lounge offers wide vistas of London's swankiest boroughs.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Lanesborough
Hyde Park Corner
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7259 5599
info@lanesborough.com
www.lanesborough.com

Evoking "a private club," this Greek Revival hotel near Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace "lives up to its reputation." "Well-appointed suites" and rooms are equipped with laptops and decorated in 1820s furniture; bathrooms are finished in Carrera marble. The modern Italian menu at Apsleys, with ingredients imported from Italy, includes carbonara fagottelli, pasta with pancetta cheese and egg yolk. "The bellmen are top-notch."

(95 rooms)

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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The Main House
6 Colville Road
London
England
Tel: 44 207 221 9691
caroline@themainhouse.co.uk
www.themainhouse.co.uk

Thanks to posh ex-nightclub owner Caroline Main, you too can be a Notting Hill bohemian. Her stucco Victorian house within spitting distance of Portobello Road makes the ideal home away from home for London visitors, though with just four rooms, you may never get in. Should you luck out, you'll have the run of a wood-floored, white-walled flat with the kind of graceful proportions, big sash windows, and leafy views that pushed this once-funky area out of the reach of mere millionaires years ago. Ms. Main has perfect taste, hence the Portobello-provenance framed mirrors, deep-buttoned leather chesterfields, slipcovered chaises longues, mahogany secretaries, and wrought iron candelabra. There are TVs with DVD players, phones with voice mail, plus WiFi, and morning coffee or tea is delivered to your room. What else could you need?

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
66 Knightsbridge
London
England
Tel: 44 207 235 2000
molon-reservations@mohg.com
www.mandarinoriental.com/london/

The expanding Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is bringing out the best in this Edwardian pile, which now has the amenities to match its splendid location—opposite Knightsbridge Tube station with the park on one side and the favorite store of fashion obsessives, Harvey Nichols, on the other. In the glam Adam Tihany–designed bar, backlit bottles masquerade as stained glass, and the restaurant, Foliage, is one of the city's foodie hits. Downstairs, there's a big, good gym, and one of the best spas (by ESPA) in London. Decor in the 197 rooms is pitched firmly in the traditional camp, in beiges, golds, and maroons, with swagged curtains, button-back wing chairs, and a pinch of orientalism—there are lacquered and bamboo bits and pieces where the chintz should be. Unless you're a shopaholic who needs to gaze continuously on Harvey Nic's, the Hyde Park rooms are the best, with nothing but trees to look at—until the Horse Guards picturesquely parade past for their morning exercise. Service is notably attentive, with a separate guest-room manager assigned to each floor.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Mandeville Hotel
Mandeville Place
London
England
Tel: 44 207 935 5599
info@mandeville.co.uk
www.mandeville.co.uk

Don't let the reserved Edwardian exterior fool you—there's a lot going on behind the façade at this Marylebone Village hotel. Reopened in May 2005 following a $28 million refurbishment, the Mandeville now has interiors by Stephen Ryan that include quirky Regency and Louis XVI touches. In the deVille restaurant—where former Pelham Hotel chef Jason Booker serves up modern British dishes, such as a trio of lamb with minted pea puree and Madeira jus—an antique dresser has been relacquered hot pink, and Rococo-style floral hangings grace the walls. The Rococo motif is repeated in the deVigne bar, which is frequented by the beautiful boys from nearby Selfridges, media types, and a varied cross section of hotel guests. The 142 bedrooms check all the high-tech boxes: flat-screen interactive TVs with broadband access, a hands-free radio in the marble bathroom. Primarily traditional decor by Julian Chichester doesn't shy from mixing pattern, color, and period: Bedside tables in dark wood with mirrored panels sit next to a white leatherette headboard framed with Deco-style mirror paneling. Fuchsia, pea green, and purple pinstriped sofas are paired with bold floral cushions and urn-patterned curtains in shades of lilac and yellow. Minimal this is not, and it's all the better for it.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Milestone Hotel
1 Kensington Court
London
England W8 5DL
Tel: 44 207 917 1000
bookms@rchmail.com
www.milestonehotel.com

Close to Kensington Gardens, this redbrick Victorian has perfect-scoring service, thanks to the "absolutely infallible" staff. "Plush, luxurious," and individually designed rooms are "uniquely English" and vary from simple black-and-white floors and fabrics to colorful brocaded bedspreads. Inside the mahogany-paneled walls of Cheneston's, modern British dishes—Goosenargh duck, heritage potato bubble and squeak—are on the menu; specialty martinis pour at Stables Bar.

(63 rooms)

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Number Sixteen
16 Sumner Place
London
England
Tel: 44 207 589 5232
sixteen@firmdale.com
www.firmdalehotels.com

This exquisite little hotel would not normally qualify for the "Budget" designation, but it's a relative term in London at the best of times, and as budget splurges go, this is tops. Sister to the Soho and the Covent Garden, the 42-bedroom white stucco Victorian town house has benefited from just as much of genius designer Kit Kemp's attention; hence the cool, contemporary chocolate and cream stripes in the bedrooms, plus a suite of glamorous drawing rooms with well-stocked honor bars just as at the pricier siblings. This one lacks a gym, a screening room, and a restaurant, though there is 24-hour room service and afternoon tea. It's true, there isn't room to swing a kitten in some of these rooms, but sweet views from the sash windows over the quiet residential street—which is one convenient minute from the South Kensington tube station—or over the backyards and rooftops make up for that, and you can sit out in the perfect little enclosed garden with a koi pond and a conservatory.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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One Aldwych
1 Aldwych
London
England
Tel: 44 207 300 1000
reservations@onealdwych.com
www.onealdwych.com

To paraphrase the real estate cliché, three words describe successful hotel keeping: detail, detail, detail. And, thanks to its dapper, exacting man-about-town owner, Gordon Campbell Gray, this ever-hip turn-of-the-21st-century luxe boutique has that down pat. Some of those details are unique to Gray's establishment—for example, the lifesized dog papier-mâché-ed with comic strips standing by the reception desk, and the rest of GCG's hand-curated, hotel-wide 400-piece contemporary art collection. Other details are ones every hotel should master: the plate of rigorously seasonal, perfectly à point fruit and flowers in your room; the friendliness of the handsome doormen, natty in their custom-made Richard James frock coats; and Wi-Fi throughout. The 105 beige, green, lilac, red, and blue rooms are mod, but so very comfy, with their deep carpet, crisp Frette linens, and brown stone bathrooms with mini TVs, special eco-water-systems, and exclusive natural bath products from New Zealand. One side of the basement is a wondrous spa with underwater music in the pool; the other side is Axis, the posh restaurant. On a mezzanine above the lobby is Indigo, the buzzy brasserie—with its canvas of 192 slices of burnt toast embedded in beeswax—and the lobby itself is a perennially hot hangout with its tea and cocktails, and arty bouquets. As for location, location, location, One Aldwych has that down too: This is Covent Garden and Theaterland's doorstep.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
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Pavilion Hotel
34-36 Sussex Gardens
London
England
Tel: 44 207 262 0905
info@pavilionhoteluk.com
www.pavilionhoteluk.com

This is the cherished baby of ex-model Danny Karne and his sister Noshi, so it's not surprising the fickle fashion folk flock here. What keeps them coming back is the loony, decadent Look—it's a favorite location for Mario Testino photo shoots and Leo diCaprio's London forays. All the 29 beyond-theatrical rooms have their own theme: single-nation ones like Highland Fling, Casablanca Nights, War and Peace, and Indian Summer are self-explanatory; then there's Quiet Please with its trompe l'oeil wall of books and mahogany daybed; the 60s spaceship Cosmic Girl and the Honky Tonk Afro room, which, with its disco ball and fake leopardskin, is so convincingly fly that Antonio Fargas—Huggy Bear himself—will stay nowhere else. Even the tiny singles have bathroom, satellite TV, and phone, and the amazing rates include breakfast. But listen: It's not for everyone. If you want a/c, obsequiousness, and babysitting, keep away. On the other hand, if Danny likes you, he may take you for a sightseeing spin in his vintage Roller or purple Lamborghini Diablo.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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The Portobello
22 Stanley Gardens
London
England
Tel: 44 207 727 2777
info@portobello-hotel.co.uk
www.portobello-hotel.co.uk

This adorable and slightly naughty Victorian terraced mansion has been a hotel since way before Notting Hill had any cachet. It opened in 1970, the year after the iconic Nic Roeg film Performance (filmed around the corner) came out and, if you squint, it retains a smidgen of Jagger-heyday dirty glamour—which may explain why professional bad boy Colin Farrell stays here now, as does hotel connoisseur and family man Bono. The very definition of shabby chic, the decor is half high-Victorian, half colonial, with claw-foot tubs and a great deal of red velvet. The 24 rooms vary vastly, from a tiny cabin with a TV set tucked into the ample folds of the bed curtains to the famous Round Bedroom suite with the giant circular bed and the restored Edwardian bathing machine—a beautiful, rather dominatrixian arrangement of brass pipe work, the tub of which Kate Moss is rumored to have filled with Champagne. Remember to take advantage of the complimentary evening membership at the nearby Cobden Club, a quirky private venue.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Renaissance London Chancery Court Hotel
252 High Holborn
London
England WC1V 7EN
Tel: 44 207 829 9888
Fax: 44 207 829 9889
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/loncc

Within "walking distance of Covent Garden and the British Museum," this former insurance headquarters in Holborn has rooms that are large—"unusual for London"—and feel "luxurious without being ostentatious, albeit a bit fussy." The "well-informed staff really want to help." Modern French cuisine at the Pearl Restaurant & Bar makes for a "marvelous meal."

(356 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Ritz
150 Piccadilly
London
England
Tel: 44 207 493 8181
Tel: 877 748 9536
enquire@theritzlondon.com
www.theritzlondon.com

One of the world's famous hotels (no longer related to the even more famous Paris Ritz) opened in 1906, and is quite as lovely as it was in its first heyday—thanks largely to more than ten years of sympathetic private ownership. You really need to have a penchant for your Louis XVI, though: Staying here is like owning the Petit Trianon for the duration, especially if you get a room (one of 137) on the west side overlooking Green Park. Everywhere are sparkly glass chandeliers, heavy silk curtains, and curvy brocaded armchairs; the ornate cornices are not just gilded, they are 24-carat-gold–leafed. Bathrooms and fireplaces are marble; ceilings are at least 12 feet high; and everything comes in the Ritz candy palate of rose, lemon, peach, and powder blue. After years and acres of minimalism and white, it's all rather refreshing, especially after a Champagne tea or an exorbitant meal in the outrageously elaborate restaurant with its frescoes and putty-and-pink boudoir chairs. There's a fitness studio on the seventh floor, but runners also have Green and St James's parks literally on their doorstep. The salon, refurbished in early 2006, also provides a range of health and beauty treatments.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Riverbank Park Plaza
18 Albert Embankment
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7958 8000
rppres@parkplazahotels.co.uk
parkplaza.com/londonuk_riverbank

When you arrive at the Riverbank Park Plaza, the engaged hum rising from the young business crowd in the foyer bar affirms that Vauxhall—with its new glossy corporate towers—has arrived. The hotel's architecture may be office block bland, but the interior decor is dramatic: A welcoming gas fire flickers inside a rectangle of chrome; at the rear, beyond plush banquettes of magenta, orange, and dark brown, is an opalescent puce-green glass-backed bar. Guest rooms are well-equipped for business travelers, outfitted with high-tech efficiencies and decorated with minimalist design accents of blond wood, pale stone, glass, and chrome. The London Eye and the Tate Modern are within walking distance, and a water taxi can speed you across the Thames in just five minutes. But the best argument for this hotel is its rooms with unimpeded views across the Thames of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben—if you can get one.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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The Rockwell
181 Cromwell Road
London
England
Tel: 44 207 244 2000
enquiries@therockwell.com
www.therockwellhotel.com

Outside, there's little to distinguish this white stucco Victorian from the many downscale hotels along this none-too-beautiful stretch of Cromwell Road, but inside, it's instant cheer. A couple of trendy architects were behind the May 2006 opening—which is easy to glean from the modish patterned wallpapers, contemporary couches, and interesting lamps. The 40 rooms benefit from intelligent layouts (especially the smaller ones like #402, a tiny double…but what a roofscape view!) and custom oak closets. There's air-conditioning, minibars, free Internet, satellite flat-screen TVs, Egyptian cotton sheets, and robes (but not tubs) in the bathrooms. Three of the rooms open onto a lower part of the courtyard; tables from One Eight One restaurant (modernized Brit fare that's much better than you'd expect) spill out onto the garden's upper level. The staff is involved and helpful, the net result being a homey vibe. Let's hope all the peeling, sad hotels around Earl's Court take the cue and follow up with their own design-conscious, detail-oriented reinventions.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Rookery
12 Peter's Lane
Cowcross Street
London
EC1M 6DS
Tel: 44 207 3360931
reservations@rookery.co.uk
Tube: Farringdon
www.rookeryhotel.com

The Rookery is a charming 33-room hotel in trendy Clerkenwell housed in three 18th-century buildings. The guest rooms range from comfortable doubles (320 square feet) to the two-story Rook's Nest suite (856 square feet), with views over London's rooftops to St. Paul's Cathedral. The guest rooms and public spaces have character and then some, with wood-paneled walls, luxurious silk drapes, stone floors, fireplaces, and antique furniture. In the bathrooms, Victorian cast-iron fittings and copper pipes have been adapted and reconditioned for modern use. Don't expect bellhops or a concierge—come here for the excellent location in one of the most evocative, Dickensian parts of London. If the Rookery is fully booked, stay at its equally sumptuous sister hotel, Hazlitt's in Soho. A third property by the same group is slated to open in Spitalfields late 2013.—Giovanna Dunmall

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Rough Luxe Hotel
1 Birkenhead Street
King's Cross
London
England WC1H 8BA
Tel: 44 20 7837 5338
reservations@roughluxehotel.co.uk
www.roughluxehotel.co.uk

Rough Luxe Hotel, opened in September 2008 just a stone's throw from North London's King's Cross Station, takes shabby chic to a whole new level. The vision of Lebanese-born designer and gallerist Rabih Hage was to retain the original building's rough edges in keeping with the rather gritty neighborhood but to combine it with luxury decor. Hence, the walls of this nine-room hotel are layered with decade-old wallpaper and mottled paint, and the original staircase is worn-down and creaky. The luxe part is all about the furnishings (thick velvet drapes), the bed linens (100 percent linen), very comfortable beds (mostly designed by Hage), and made-to-measure or antique furniture. The effect is idiosyncratic and strangely inviting but also can occasionally irk (a 1970s TV with a fuzzy picture is downright annoying). Choose rooms 2, 6, or 10, all overlooking a courtyard, if you want a decent night's sleep away from the cacophony of traffic. Rooms 5 and 8 are the en suite options; choose 8 (the largest room) if you want to experience bathing in a splendid copper tub. Breakfast is served around a beautifully handcrafted chunky table by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, and the terrace is an oasis amid the urban grizzle that is King's Cross. If you're prepared to forgo spacious guest rooms and high-tech amenities in favor of the unexpected—plus a welcoming, professional staff—this place is worth a visit.—Giovanna Dunmall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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San Domenico House
29-31 Draycott Place
London
England
Tel: 44 20 7581 5757
info@sandomenicohouse.com
www.sandomenicohouse.com

This 16-room property, a reincarnation of the former Sloane Hotel on Draycott Place, is ideally situated for exploring Chelsea's history and upscale shops. The hotel, two redbrick houses, contains a warren of staircases and landings supplemented by a tiny elevator. Lavishly furnished with late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings and antiques, the cozy interior feels more like a quirky private home than the ubiquitous no-place of global Hotel Land. The thick scent of candles strikes an off-note, however, as do occasional stumbles in the decorating: What could an homage to Napoleon be doing in a London drawing room? The heated towel rail in the gleaming bathroom may not always work, but the bedroom lighting is perfection, the continental breakfast as good as any in Milan, and the Italian staff not only attentive but dazzlingly handsome.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Savoy
The Strand
London
England
Tel: 44 207 836 4343
savoy@fairmont.com
Tube: Covent Garden, Charing Cross
www.fairmont.com/savoy/

It took three years and $356 million to refurbish and restore the grande dame of London hotels, the Savoy, which reopened in fall 2010. The part-Edwardian, part–Art Deco building on the Strand in central London is an ideal spot to stay when in town for sightseeing. The restoration has retained the lobby's original friezes, paneling, and black-and-white marble floors, but a lighter color scheme and the Edwardian glass cupola (long covered up) brighten the space. Additions include the Beaufort Bar, a new Art Deco–style Champagne bar with dramatic jet-black and gold-leaf walls, a huge selection of Champagne, and live cabaret (fitting, considering the Savoy's theatrical beginnings). The revamped River restaurant offers a modern French menu and doubles as the hotel's breakfast room. The 268 guest rooms (62 of them suites) are either Art Deco or Edwardian in style, but all are elegant and understated, with Murano glass chandeliers and soft, light cream tones (and floral furnishings in the Edwardian rooms). All have black-and-white marble bathrooms, fresh flowers, and framed photographs of past famous guests of the hotel. If you're looking for an iconic London view, book one of the 38 rooms overlooking the Thames and the London Eye. There's a light-filled pool and gym where you can work off the mouth-watering pastries and chocolates made on-site and sold in the Savoy's Tea Shop.—Giovanna Dunmall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Soho Hotel
4 Richmond Mews
London
England
Tel: 44 207 559 3000
receptionsohohotel@firmdale.com
www.firmdale.com

Hotelier-designer team Tim and Kit Kemp opened this hotel in 2004. Of their flawless six-pack of welcoming, contemporary hotels, the Soho may be even more glamorous than their best-known Covent Garden Hotel. This is partly because the location attracts Soho's floating population of ad and film industry types (and the occasional Hollywood star), but mostly because Kit Kemp's styling just keeps getting better. The 91 rooms have taupe and bisque stripes, velvet loveseats, white matelassé bedcovers, custom faux–flea market dressers, Kemp's signature vintage-styled radios, and gorgeous bathrooms of brindled granite and oak. Downstairs are more Kempian trademarks: the pair of parlors for entertaining guests—and selves—complete with log fires, a cornucopian honor bar with snacks, and more Deco-inspiration than the grooviest shelter mag. There's the bar-restaurant, Refuel, with its fun mural of a parking garage (this building's implausible former occupant), a great little gym, and two beauty-service rooms, two private movie theaters, and—on first entering the sunny brick-colored lobby with its river-stone–covered pillars—a ten-foot high welcome cat, which happens to be a bronze by Botero. Top style and people-watching in every cranny.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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St. James's Hotel and Club
7-8 Park Place
St James's
London
England SW1A 1LS
Tel: 44 207 316 1600
www.stjameshotelandclub.com

Until recently a raffish exclusive club for entertainment types like Pete Townsend and Michael Caine, this splendid neo-Gothic edifice on a quiet cul de sac has been transformed into a stylish hotel. Designer Anne Maria Jagdfeld uses exquisitely textured materials to subtly opulent effect, including in the 60 well-proportioned and (complicatedly) high-tech accoutered rooms. Surfaces are elegantly sheathed in cashmere, silk, and velvet (not to mention stingray and armadillo skin), while golden Murano glass chandeliers and lighting ingeniously recessed under the bathtubs cast luxuriant illumination. Less successful is the hotel's unnecessarily pretentious Silk Route-inspired Andaman Restaurant. And although the museum-quality pieces of early-twentieth-century art contribute jolts of brilliant color, the faint odor of Nazi-era Germany that seeps from a few of the works seems discordant. But, as you're reminded by the naughty nudie pix still tucked away in the bar, the St. James's has not entirely left behind its decadent past.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
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Weardowney Guesthouse
9 Ashbridge Street
North Marylebone
London
England NW8 8DH
Tel: 44 20 7725 9694
house@weardowney.com
www.weardowney.com

This guesthouse is something of a well-kept secret hidden away in trendy Marylebone, north of Oxford Street. It's the brainchild of Amy Wear and Gail Downey, former models turned knitwear designers who converted the spacious three-story Victorian townhouse above their boutique into a six-room hotel. Each comfy bedroom is individually designed in a bohemian take on Regency style. Four rooms have en suite baths; the other two share a bathroom on the landing, which keeps costs ridiculously cheap for this neighborhood ($144 en suite, $134 with shared bathroom). On your doorstep are Regent's Park, Lord's Cricket Ground, and Madame Tussauds, as well as many excellent boutiques. Guests can try the potluck (soup or stew), made nightly by Downey's wonderful housekeeper Titiek, and in the morning a full English or continental breakfast is served in the dining room. At street level, the Weardowney boutique is a trove of beautifully handcrafted knitwear and vintage clothing and shoes—a tempting place to spend the cash you've saved by staying here.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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The Zetter
86–88 Clerkenwell Road
London
England
Tel: 44 207 324 4444
info@thezetter.com
www.thezetter.com

The giant red Z on the front of this hotel tips you off (as if you hadn't already been primed by the "aren't I gorgeous?" vibe of the entire neighborhood): The Zetter isn't the shy and retiring type. One of the converted warehouses indigenous to Clerkenwell, the place may read as nonchalant, but you know full well every inch was born in a sketchbook, mood board, or blueprint before the hotel opened in 2004. In fact, design darlings Precious McBane are behind the witty vintage look: dusty pink, turquoise, or hot orange-on-white color schemes in the 59 rooms, along with Louis seats with mock-70s floral upholstery and Knoll chairs in Eley Kishimoto fabrics. Rooftop studios earn technology brownie points for body-temperature–regulating Freshbeds. There are HansGrohe rain showers in the bathrooms and second-hand Penguin Classic paperbacks on the nightstands—plus hallway vending machines (think splits of Champagne, not Fritos) instead of minibars. The first floor is an all-day restaurant with walls of window, lots of achingly cool locals, and a vitrine of YBA works. If that doesn't appeal, the arrival of head chef Diego Jacquet in 2006—formerly of the Trafalgar's Rockwell Bar and Restaurant, El Bulli, and Aquavit—might just do it for you. Almost best of all, the rates are (for London) way low.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.