London

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The Soho Hotel

Address: 4 Richmond Mews

Neighborhood: Soho

City: London

Phone: 011-44-20-7559-3000

Website: www.firmdalehotels.com

Expert Review

With London among the top five priciest cities in the world, even the most affluent travelers need to weigh the pros and cons of top-tier hotels before investing a minimum of $500 a night for an experience that might not offer anything more than Frette linens, rainfall showerheads, and flat-screen televisions. Zoom into the heart of London's city center and you'll find the Soho neighborhood, in the middle of London's theater district: Shaftesbury theaters and Soho Square are just a stone's throw away.

Set back from Dean Street, The Soho Hotel - one of six Firmdale hotels in London - is accessed via its own little mews enclave with a back entrance-type vibe that hints at the hotel's unassuming luxury. Natural light pours through the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows into spacious guest rooms overlooking back gardens with eccentric bric-a-brac here and there and the offices of the neighborhood's creative denizens. A parking garage in its last life, the building is nothing if not large. Yet it is, of course, much more, from the hulking Fernando Botero sculpture in the lobby to a velvet armchair next to your window; details such as a signature mannequin bust in each room make you feel as though you've landed in the apartment of a fashionable, artsy friend.

Guests have exclusive access to the drawing room and library (both with fireplaces and full honor bars), two private cinemas, and beauty salons. Classy new bar-restaurant Refuel has garnered some buzz thanks to its haute-Brit cuisine (Colchester oysters au gratin, Dorset crab, roast monkfish), and stylish global clientele. The midprice rooms that share the fifth floor with the hotel's four enormous suites are easily the best value, offering the same sweeping views of the city and wraparound balconies. Best season for value: late winter/spring. 2008 Smart Luxury Award winner

Great Value Alternative: The Hoxton's rooms are so stuffed with chic extras you won't mind how compact they are, and the popular bar-restaurant is always abuzz. www.hoxtonhotels.com

Tags: luxury | expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | smart luxury winner

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