Destination: England: London
This South Kensington hotel is ideal for young families and couples who don’t want to scrimp on style but can’t bear to pay London’s steep prices. Simple and chic, base2stay has no spa, restaurant or room service; instead, each of the sixty-seven stylish rooms has state-of-the-art technology (including a Hi-speed Ethernet broadband connection and lots of sockets, even a European one), a kitchenette, a/c, twenty-four-hour reception and an in-room booklet, which also appears on the room’s flat-screen TV, highlighting the area’s amenities. I especially liked the large and airy Room 204, with a tree-lined view. Rooms from $195.
La Suite West
Designed by the talented Anouska Hempel (the mastermind behind Amsterdam’s Dylan and London’s Blake’s), La Suite West in Bayswater is a study in chic minimalism at a relatively low cost. Interiors feature a striking black-and-white color scheme, with touches of cobalt blue. Rooms come with small kitchenettes, as well as heated bathroom floors and an inspired mini-bar stocked with healthy drinks. Outside, an orchard of plane trees shades a lovely courtyard with tables where guests can enjoy afternoon tea or an aperitif. La Suite West is a great new option for travelers who crave affordable style. The location in Bayswater, near Hyde Park, is only okay. The hotel also has a partnership with the nearby spa at Space NK on Westbourne Park Grove, as well as the gym LA Fitness around the corner.
St. John's Hotel
Famed London chef Fergus Henderson and business partner Trevor Gulliver (of the popular and wildly original St John’s Restaurant) have branched out with opening of St John’s Hotel in London’s Chinatown, just off Leicester Square. The duo are calling it the fifteen-room hotel, complete with a top-floor suite, their “mini grand urban hut.” Naturally guests here will not go hungry, what with delicious meals served in the ground-floor restaurant, from breakfast until 2 .am. (“so that the orchestra and cast can get a chance to come, too,” said Gulliver). The menu will feature St John’s distinctive—and delicious—pared-down cooking, plus Madeira and seed cake at “Elevenses,” and afternoon buns and a glass of Champagne at teatime. Rooms start at £200.
A boutique hotel with thirty-nine rooms and suites just off Old Brompton Road in South Kensington, The Cranley is comprised of three Victorian townhouses. All of the rooms are furnished with antiques that are in keeping with the 19th century history of the building. Most of the double rooms feature canopy or four-poster beds and Bennison fabrics, brass lamps and period photographs or prints that set the homey English tone. The single rooms with twin beds are popular with long-term guests who relish the feeling that they are staying in an elegant friend’s spare room, and they actually feel less sterile than some of the double rooms, which have a slightly austere quality. Modern technology such as internet access, LCD TVs and internet access have all been added but the interiors remain English traditional. There is no gym on-site but guests do have privileges at nearby health clubs. Double rooms from $229.
Who it’s right for: Traditionalist who relish the feeling of staying in a proper townhouse in Kensington.
Who it’s wrong for: Those who expect the laid-on-thick luxuries of a grand, five-star hotel or who cringe at old-fashioned English interiors or who want a hip scene.
The Sloane Square
For those who do not want to spend a lot but require a great location and like a cheeky, contemporary design, the Sloane Square Hotel, which opened in 2006, is a good option. The 102-room hotel sits right on Sloane Square, so you are within walking distance to Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Belgravia. The rooms are small but tastefully outfitted with quilts, LCD TVs, minibars and good lighting. Some rooms are specially designed to accommodate traveling families (see photos). An added plus is that the popular restaurant, the Botanist is virtually off the lobby (it’s right around the corner). Rooms from $265 for a single and $312 for a double.
Tip: Special weekend rates as well.
Who it’s right for: Style seekers on a budget who want a chic location and don’t require lots of special attention or space to spread out.
Who it’s wrong for: Anyone who expects perfection.
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