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Rough Luxe Hotel, King's Cross 

1 Birkenhead Street
King's Cross
England WC1H 8BA
Tel: 44 20 7837 5338
view web site ›'s insider take:

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

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