Chic and cheerful
Carrie Hutchinson checks out the most affordable of cool London hotels, from trendy Notting Hill to fashionable Belgravia Crazy is one way to describe Honky Tonk Afro, Pavilion’s lurid lime and hot-pink disco-themed digs
Hoxton Urban Lodge, Hoxton: At this designer chic, 205-room hotel in one of London’s hippest districts, you’ll find everything you need and nothing you don’t. The rooms have beds dressed with Frette linen, charcoal-hued bathrooms, large flat-screen televisions, free internet access and cheap phone calls. Gorgeous features abound, such as a cityscape etched into a wall and tiny red bedside lamps for a touch of bordello.
Replacing the minibar is a 24-hour kiosk in reception that sells drinks, snacks and toiletries at supermarket prices. There’s also a bar and restaurant, complete with hunting lodge vibe, that’s perfect for people-watching. Each morning a paper bag packed with yoghurt, banana and juice is delivered, although Spitalfields Market — where Canteen serves a fantastic sausage and roast onion sandwich — is a 10-minute walk away. Doubles from £59 ($123); www.hoxtonhotels.com. Hotel 55, Ealing: On a sunny morning, coffee and croissants in the conservatory here seems the perfect way to start the day. This small but stylish hotel was once a brothel but has been given a new life. The rooms (mainly small) have a loft feel, with sloping ceilings and luxe finishes such as chocolate velvet throws, Egyptian cotton sheets and Molton Brown toiletries.
Busy Hangar Lane runs past the front of the hotel, but smaller rooms at the back overlook a pretty garden. The Tube station is around the corner and it’s a 25-minute ride into the West End. If you’re visiting Wembley, however, this is really handy: it’s just a few kilometres away, with buses regularly running past the hotel to the stadium. Doubles from £85; www.hotel55-london.com. Mayflower Hotel, Earls Court: You wouldn’t want to go swinging that proverbial cat in the lift or the rooms here, but the Asian-influenced design and furniture (particularly in some of the slightly more expensive suites) is a bonus, as is the basement breakfast room with adjoining garden (a light continental option is included in the price, although cooked extras can be ordered) and the Wi-fi access in every room.
Light sleepers may want to bring a set of earplugs as the hotel faces a rather busy road and the train line runs behind. On the up side, Mayflower Hotel is just around the corner from the Tube station and is on the Heathrow line. Doubles from £99; www.mayflowerhotel.co.uk. New Linden Hotel, Notting Hill: Like most reasonably priced rooms in London, those here are a little on the teeny side, but the hotel has recently undergone a refurbishment so you can expect modern amenities including a CD player and wireless internet access. Rooms pictured on the New Linden Hotel website are decorated with chic silks and interesting artwork (some rooms have four-posters) but these are the luxury category; standard rooms are not of the same calibre.
The best aspect here is the location: on a residential street within walking distance of Portobello Market, the boutiques of Westbourne Grove and the Middle Eastern and Asian restaurants on Queensway. Doubles from £99; www.newlinden.co.uk. Mercure London City Bankside, Southwark: A couple of years ago, most travellers would have had second thoughts about staying in this part of London, but it has become quite the hot spot. And when you consider the amenities offered, the Mercure is great value. Not only are the contemporary rooms large compared with similarly priced ones elsewhere, but the extras are all here: room service, internet connections, friendly staff and a good restaurant that does a roaring trade at breakfast (avoid the rush hour if you’re in a hurry).
The Tate Modern is across the road and Borough Market, a foodie’s paradise, is a 10-minute walk away. On a long summer’s evening, take a stroll from the hotel along the banks of the Thames to the Southbank Centre. Doubles from £99; www.accorhotels.com. Pavilion Hotel, Hyde Park: You never know who may be in the next room at what the owners describe as a
fashion rock n’ roll hotel’’. It’s the haunt of supermodels, there’s often a photo shoot in the basement lounge and superstars such as Bryan Ferry have stayed. Why? Well, it’s one of a kind, with 30 over-the-top, individually decorated rooms that can be a little on the small size (as are the bathrooms). Crazy is one way to describe Honky Tonk Afro, Pavilion’s lurid lime and hot-pink disco-themed digs.
Be aware this isn’t a business hotel and the service is a little relaxed, but if you’re a cool, artistic type, this may be the perfect London crash pad. Doubles from £100; www.pavilionhoteluk.com. Base2stay, Kensington: I can’t help but think that the owners of base2stay took a cue from the Hoxton but pulled back on the urban edginess. In a huge townhouse just a few minutes’ walk from Earls Court Tube station, base2stay features 67 rooms in seven styles that range from singles and bunk rooms to larger versions that sleep up to four.
The minimalist white and taupe aesthetic is appealing and so, too, is the mini kitchen (microwave, sink, fridge, kettle and everything you’ll need for eating in) in each room. Tip: request a ground-floor room with access to a tiny garden. Doubles from £107; www.base2stay.co.uk. The Main House, Notting Hill: Checking into one of the three rooms at Caroline Main’s home is a bit like staying with a friend. You’ll have no complaints about having to squeeze in, for a start, with each room taking up an entire floor of the house.
Then there’s the eclectic mix of vintage furniture,
Little and large: There’s a range of rooms at Kensington’s comfortable base2stay, from singles to bunk rooms animal skins on wooden floorboards and interesting art and artefacts. It’s the perfect fit for this bohemian neighbourhood. Instead of a wake-up call, organise to have tea or coffee delivered to your room, on a silver tray, no less.
There’s no breakfast offered, but Main has an arrangement with Tom’s Deli (that’s Tom Conran, son of Terence) around the corner, so guests receive a discount. Doubles from £110; www.themainhouse.co.uk. B+B Belgravia, Belgravia: For two consecutive years, Belgravia has won best B & B at the Eurostar Visit London awards. Not surprising, really, given that its 17 rooms are comfortable and well styled, and the staff all go a little bit further to make guests welcome. Breakfast (order whatever you want) is cooked in the open-plan kitchen, and the lounge, done out in chic black and white, has a coffee machine, DVD library, plenty of books and a laptop that can be used at any time of day.
If you don’t mind a few stairs, ask for a room at the top of the building overlooking the garden; it’s so peaceful. Doubles from £115; www.bb-belgravia.com.
High Road House, Chiswick: Those in the market for a hidden gem should like the exclusivity of just 14 rooms in this west London private members’ club. The bright white rooms, with touches of lively colour, are so full of light that they appear bigger than they are. Some have the bath located within the room (there are gorgeous Cowshed products to use), so you need to be on rather good terms if you happen to be sharing with a friend.
All guests have access to the club’s facilities, including bars, brasserie, function rooms and a games room with table football, huge TV and board games.
Become a member of the Soho House group and the rooms are even cheaper. Doubles from £140; www.highroadhouse.co.uk. Hotels are listed by ascending tariff, not in order of preferential rating. Prices may vary according to season and availability.
Hot spot: Mercure London City Bankside, Southwark
Fashion friendly: Pavilion Hotel, Hyde Park
Silver service: The Main House, Notting Hill
On to a winner: B+B Belgravia, in the West End