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News & Advice

The Big Six: Luxury London hotels

Cricket themes, cigar terraces and rooftop bars

The Wellesley Knightsbridge

This 1920s townhouse reopened in December on the south side of Hyde Park. It's the former home of jazz and cabaret venue, Pizza on the Park, but has now been converted into a luxury hotel with chandelier-lit hallways and 36 rooms, hung with photographs of figures from the Roaring Twenties that pay homage to the building's past. A Cigar Terrace and Jazz Room add to the bygone feel, but the luxury shopping outlets of Knightsbridge place the hotel firmly in the 21st century.

The Wellesley, 11 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LY (020-7235 3535; thewellesley.co.uk). Doubles from £550, room only.

The Ampersand South Kensington

Built in 1888, The Ampersand was one of London's original Victorian hotels. Reopened last summer in a prime spot close to the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A, it now has an altogether more modern look. There's a tea room on the ground floor with artfully mismatched prints, corridors with wallpaper that nods to nearby galleries, and the snazzy brassiere-style Apero restaurant that specialises in Mediterranean cuisine.

The Ampersand, 10 Harrington Road, SW7 3ER (020-7589 5895; ampersandhotel.com). Doubles from £162, room only.

ME London Aldwych

ME London is the second outpost in the capital from Spanish hotel group Meliá. Located in Marconi House – site of the BBC's first radio broadcast in 1922 – it has interiors by Foster + Partners, a sweeping rooftop bar and two restaurants: STK, by the hit New York steakhouse, and a rustic Italian, Cucina Asellina. Plush rooms come with iPads and monsoon showers, while the penthouse suite has a private terrace, warmed by an outdoor firepit.

ME London, 336-337 The Strand, WC2R 1HA (0845 6018980; melia.com). Doubles from £408, room only.

La Suite West Bayswater

Design doyenne, Anouska Hempel, made a name for herself in the hotel world with Blakes, Kensington's boutique beauty, which opened in the late Seventies. Her latest project, La Suite West, launched last summer in Bayswater, a short stroll from the shopping of Portobello Market and the tree-lined pathways of Hyde Park. The look inside is classic Hempel: all polished surfaces, crisp lines and Asian accents, complemented by a health-conscious restaurant that also looks East.

La Suite West, 41-51 Inverness Terrace, W2 3JN (020-7313 8484; lasuitewest.com). Doubles from £186, room only.

Café Royal Piccadilly

The Café Royal reopened next to the blinking lights of Piccadilly Circus in December. First unveiled as a restaurant in 1865, it became a favoured watering hole for artists and writers, from Oscar Wilde to David Bowie, before calling last orders in 2008. Purchased by The Set, a small hotel group with experience in restoring heritage properties, it now flaunts 159 subtle, muted rooms, a new Ten Room restaurant and a revived Grill Room, that whispers of a racy past.

Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, W1B 4DY (020-7406 3333; hotelcaferoyal.com). Doubles from £400, room only.

Dorset Square Marylebone

Tim and Kit Kemp launched Firmdale Hotels in 1985 with Dorset Square: a Regency townhouse in the heart of Marylebone. They sold the property in 2002, only to reacquire it and open it afresh last summer. Inside, bold colours and bespoke fabrics blend effortlessly, while a gentle cricket theme pervades. The square was, after all, home to the first Lord's ground in 1787. Quirky rooms come with a vintage feel and the Potting Shed Restaurant serves a classic British menu.

Dorset Square, 39-40 Dorset Square, NW1 6QN (020-7723 7874; firmdalehotels.com). Doubles from £260, room only.