The best places to stay in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
The Hoxton Hotel
"One for budget-conscious art lovers. Perfect location for East End galleries and nightlife."—Mat Osman, musician and editor of le cool London. Rooms are small, but you get Frette bed linen, free Wi-Fi, cheap calls (5 pence a minute to U.S.) and rates from £59. The earlier you book, the cheaper the rate. 81 Great Eastern St., Hoxton; tel. 44 (0) 207 550 1000. www.hoxtonhotels.com
"Simple, friendly, brilliant value. Nine bedrooms with garden views share four bathrooms; no TVs. Ostensibly run by a Christian organization, but they throw nothing at you."—Tom Bell, author of Alistair Sawday's Special Places to Stay: British Hotels, Inns & Other Places. Near the Tube, the Thames, and the Gate, acclaimed vegetarian restaurant. 51 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith; tel. 44 (0) 208 748 8388. No website; email: www.templelodgeclub.com.
"Wild extravagance in cool Notting Hill. In the bedrooms, they've tried to be a little more restrained than the orgiastic drawing room, but failed magnificently. Cocktails on the house, as a fire crackles and candles flicker. Regulars include movie moguls and rock stars."—Tom Bell. 111a Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill; tel. 44 (0) 207 243 1024. www.millersuk.com
Hip newcomer that stands out from Earl's Court flop-houses. 40 compact, neutral rooms livened with bold prints; showers only. Smart restaurant and shady, hidden patio, a lovely setting for weekend barbeques (British weather permitting). 181 Cromwell Road, Kensington; tel. 44 (0) 207 244 2000. www.therockwell.com
Searcy's Roof Garden Bedrooms
"The sort of place you could only find in England. Quietly quirky country-house style, a bit floral and fancy. Two rooms have baths in the bedroom. Breakfast in bed or pretty roof garden. Close to Harrods, Hyde Park a short stroll."—Tom Bell. 30 Pavilion Road, Knightsbridge; tel. 44 (0) 207 584 4921.
An English eccentric. 59 retro-cool rooms with vintage wallpaper, hot water bottles, and gadgetry aplenty. Rooftop studios have great city views. Vending machines dispense champagne and cameras. Superb Mediterranean restaurant with wraparound windows and soaring atrium bar, popular with local media crowd. St. John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, Clerkenwell; tel. 44 (0) 207 324 4444. www.thezetter.com
22 York Street
"B&B in Georgian town house near Madame Tussaud's, Regent's Park, and Lord's. The Callis family keeps things easygoing, which might explain the salsa lesson that once broke out at breakfast. Play piano in the kitchen or backgammon in the huge sitting room."—Tom Bell. 22 York St., Marylebone; tel. 44 (0) 207 224 2990. www.22yorkstreet.co.uk
Frightfully traditional sanctuary in Mayfair cul-de-sac. Retains the air of a gentleman's club (with impressive antique art collection) despite recent makeover by fashionable hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray. Deservedly famous martinis in blue velvet bar. St. James's Place, Mayfair; tel. 44 (0) 207 491 4840. www.dukeshotel.com
11 Cadogan Gardens
Privately owned, family-run, deliciously old-fashioned. Decor is deliberately chintzy: William Morris wallpaper, marble busts, classical portraits. Desirable location (especially for shoppers) on Sloane Square in Chelsea. 11 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea; tel. 44 (0) 207 730 7000. http://cadogan-hotel-london.com/
"Whenever I have visitors I send them to one of the Firmdale hotels. They've got flair and personality."—Stephen Bayley, design consultant and author. This seventh addition to the mini-chain is by Trafalgar Square. Individually furnished rooms have mismatched prints, contemporary art, clever lighting. Adjacent town house for the A-List. 1 Suffolk Place. Tel: 44 (0) 207 470 4000. www.haymarkethotel.com
Period bolt-hole in the heart of Soho. "Only the smallest sign indicates it's a hotel. Old-fashioned bathtubs, wonky floors, silk-canopied beds with stacks of pillows, signed copies of J.K. Rowling and Michael Ondaatje in cozy reading room."—Michael Cullen, editor of small hotel specialist www.i-escape.com. 6 Frith St., Soho; tel. 44 (0) 207 434 1771. www.hazlittshotel.com
"Unashamedly retro hideaway in hip Clerkenwell. Quasi-Dickensian interiors conceal flat-screen TVs; beside roll-top baths, Aveda toiletries. Popular with business visitors tired of five-star chain hotels."—Michael Cullen. 12 Peter's La., Cowcross St; tel. 44 (0) 207 336 0931. www.rookeryhotel.com
"I don't want to go to heaven, I want to go to Claridges."—Spencer Tracy. Resplendent black and white tiled lobby with vast chandelier. Art deco landmark with 11 new suites designed by David Linley and a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. 55 Brook St., Mayfair; tel. 44 (0) 207 629 8860. www.claridges.co.uk
"The epitome of Englishness: liveried doormen, wood-paneled bathrooms, chandeliers by the dozen, oysters, and champagne bar. Cocktail party for guests every Sunday. Rooms at rear have gorgeous garden views. Three minutes walk from Buckingham Palace."—Tom Bell. Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens, Victoria; tel. 44 (0) 207 396 9000. www.goringhotel.co.uk
"Modern, stylish, and central. There's even a private cinema with blue leather seats," says Stephen Bayley. Extraordinary attention to detail: fresh fruit and flowers delivered daily, spa offering 50 treatments, underwater music in 18-meter (59-foot) pool. The Lobby Bar is always buzzing. One Aldwych, Covent Garden; tel. 44 (0) 207 300 1000 www.onealdwych.com
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