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

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

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

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