From the name, you might expect the Neo Hotel to be a kind of futuristic crash pad where check-in is performed by robots, breakfast clatters out of a vending machine and your bathroom cleans itself - but that couldn't be further from the truth. One of Brighton's most stylish small hotels, Neo was set up by a design dream team of former interiors magazine stylist, Steph, and her decorator-cum-building-restorer partner, Tony. The result is an opulent mix of Georgian detailing and some dandy-ish decor that is the complete antithesis to bland modernism.
A glamorous seaside townhouse, Neo boasts elegant cornicing, wildly patterned wallpaper and an eclectic smattering of vintage lamps, mirrors and chairs (the smallest of which have gone down so well with guests that Steph has had to start keeping tabs on them). With a nod to the hotel's address - though one Steph insists was unintentional - there's also a definite Oriental twist, with lacquered Chinese cabinets masquerading as TV stands, dragon-patterned tea caddies and individually designed silk kimonos instead of plain old white bathrobes.
Downstairs there is a small, copper-topped bar, where you can sit and knock back your favourite tipple from a drinks list that spans the whole spectrum from house cocktail to bottled Finnish beer (no need for beer goggles, however - the barman moonlights as a male model). There are also plans to add a restaurant, although at the moment lunches and dinners are only available by pre-arrangement for special parties. Neo also plays host to events such as wine weekends.
In the meantime, breakfast is the main meal of the day, and one that the hotel is gaining a reputation for. Amid the airy splendour provided by grand sash windows, a marble fireplace and crystal chandeliers, you can sit and flick through the papers in the breakfast room while fresh smoothies are whizzed up, organic pork sausages are grilled, vine tomatoes are roasted and blueberry pancakes are fluffed to order.
Neo Hotel, 19 Oriental Place, Brighton, BN1 2LL (01273 711104; www.neohotel.com).
Set at the end of a pretty stucco terrace just to the west of the city centre, the hotel is about a two-minute flip-flop from the seafront and a 10-minute stroll from the station.
Transport: two feet are the best way to see Brighton but there's also a bus stop nearby.
Time to international airport: Gatwick is a speedy 30 minutes or so by train.
You should be. Neo boasts the same beds as the Savoy. Each room is individually decorated but some are en suite, some aren't. Some are doubles, others are cute (and very popular) singles. Two of the cosiest are room 12, a puff of pale green set in the building's attic, and room 10, a wilder, scarlet-hued version on the theme. If you want grandeur and chinoiserie, opt for room one, with its three floor-to-ceiling windows and gorgeous blue and gold walls. For a quirkier look, go for room seven with its graceful bird-motif wallpaper.
Freebies: one of two specially blended organic shampoo and body washes from Circaroma.
Keeping in touch: TVs, DVD players (there's a library in reception), telephone and wireless internet access.
THE BOTTOM LINE
En suite doubles start from £100 per night, standard doubles from £85 and singles from £45. All room prices include breakfast.
I'm not paying that: Brighton Youth Hostel in Patcham Place (01273 556196; www.yha.org.uk) has beds from £14.90 (£2 more for non-members), including breakfast.
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