As you enter Ian Shrager's new London hotel, St Martins Lane, and leave behind the bustle of the street from which it takes its name, the interior(designed by Philippe Starck) is supposed to create the illusion of entering another world. It does. But, rather than a moonboots-and-spacedust- stylelobbyscape, guests land on pure Dali-esque terrain - gnomes pose as stools along with giant gold teeth, an oversized flowerpot supports a blossom offake pink roses and, in the distance, a gentle stream of clouds drifts across a giant screen: the door to the Light Bar.

As you enter Ian Shrager's new London hotel, St Martins Lane, and leave behind the bustle of the street from which it takes its name, the interior(designed by Philippe Starck) is supposed to create the illusion of entering another world. It does. But, rather than a moonboots-and-spacedust- stylelobbyscape, guests land on pure Dali-esque terrain - gnomes pose as stools along with giant gold teeth, an oversized flowerpot supports a blossom offake pink roses and, in the distance, a gentle stream of clouds drifts across a giant screen: the door to the Light Bar.

Despite attempts at playing cool, you'll probably not be able to stop a stray "wow" from slipping from your lips. The gimmicks (which include asupply of pashminas for guests) might not impress, but if you want to have fun, this is the place to book. Although the idea is serious (it's strong onbusiness facilities), the mood is definitely one of entertainment. A typical night here might involve scribbling something silly on the pillar-cum-blackboard in the rum bar next to the Asia de Cuba restaurant and then, after making some sizzling dancefloormoves in the Light Bar (or settling down for a sedate meal in one of the three restaurants), toddling off to bed in a lift that plays music and has a TV, just in case you start to feel a little bored en route.

Location, location, location

St Martins Lane is at 45 St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4HX (tel 0171- 300 5500, fax 0171-300 5501, reservations 0800 634 5500).

If you're here to have a good time, you can't really knock the location. Within a five-minute walk you'll find theatres, nightclubs, restaurants, galleries -and the centre of London's tourist map, Leicester Square.

Getting around: the Northern line underground station is two minutes away by foot and, a little further in the opposite direction, Charing Cross stationgives you access to several other lines and mainline train services. Heathrow is about an hour away by tube or marginally quicker if you traipse toPaddington station and jump on the Heathrow Express.

Are you lying comfortably?

The idea is less about how the rooms are decorated (simple but stylish) and more about what you can do with them. Each one comes with aninteractive light installation so that you can alter the colour, the mood and, ultimately, what the hotel looks like from the street. If you get fed up ofplaying changing rooms, try the ultra-modern gym, order an in-room massage (or anything else on the room service menu, from gummy bears to an"intimacy kit") or nip downstairs to the lobby shop (packed full of trendy essentials - jewellery by Noelle and Jade Jagger, toiletries from The Crossand a stock of the latest design magazines).

The bottom line

For this kind of fun, you need serious cash: standard double rooms cost £215, studios £285 and the penthouse is so expensive youprobably shouldn't even ask the price (it's not listed) unless you're paid in gold bullion.

I'm not paying that

Try the Pavilion Hotel, 34 Sussex Gardens, London, W2 1UL (0171-262 0905) where the equally colourful rooms (from"Highland Fling" to "Honky Tonk") cost from £60 per night single, £95 double.

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