Business Travel: In London, small can be beautiful Make yourself at home in London

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The Independent Online
London remains Britain and Europe's premier business city. But what alternatives are there to faceless chain hotels? Rhiannon Batten checks out some less conventional - but characterful - places to check in.

Hazlitt's, 6 Frith Street (0171-434 1771)

The inside of the hotel is so contrasting to the surrounding chaos of Soho that the first impression is one of complete surprise. A staircase takes you up from the elegant townhouse entrance as if you were entering the home of a wealthy relative, stuffed with interesting four poster beds to try out, pictures to peer at and unusual furnishings to toy with.

The bookcase in the drawing room is impressively filled with the books of famous authors who've stayed here. Each of the cosy rooms is packed with sturdy antique furniture and almost all the bathrooms are equipped with pretty free-standing baths. The only slight fault is that rooms at the front may be rather noisy. Single rooms cost pounds 115, double rooms pounds 148 and the one suite available pounds 205. The prices do not include VAT or breakfast, which is pounds 6.75.

Number Sixteen, 16 Sumner Place (0171-589 5232)

The entrance of this hotel is currently marked out by lavender and rose tubs and the place is full of fresh flowers. The rooms are each named after a different colour with shades such as suede and lemon giving the impression that you've stepped into the Dulux catalogue. From the sound of a fountain lapping away in the garden to the sunny coloured drawing room, all in all this is a very relaxing setting. The rooms are homely but oozing with style and the garden and conservatory are a real haven. Single rooms cost pounds 80-115 and doubles pounds 150-180. The price includes continental breakfast and VAT.

The Bulldog Club (0171-341 9495)

Costs pounds 25 for annual membership and operates like a five star bed and breakfast organisation. Membership entitles you to stay in one of the homes on its list, either in London or in the countryside and all the properties are equivalent to five-star standard. Visitors receive the usual benefits of staying in a plush hotel, including full British breakfast, and all the London properties cost pounds 95 per night for a double room with private bathroom down to pounds 65 per night for a single room with shared bathroom.

The Beaufort, 33 Beaufort Gardens (0171-584 5252)

The hotel atmosphere is very warm and informal, rather as if you've stepped into someone else's house, with apples on the coffee table and children under the sofa. You're given a front door key on arrival and the hotel looks like a well-kept private house on a pretty Georgian square. Room prices range from pounds 130 for a small single with shower to pounds 185 for a large double with bath and shower. These prices don't include VAT but they do include continental breakfast, telephone and fax services, 24 hour champagne, service, afternoon tea and all drinks. Deluxe doubles and the junior suite cost pounds 230 and pounds 240, not including VAT. Crucially for the business traveller, other facilities include access to a nearby health club, light snacks during the day and airport pick-up or drop-off.

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