The Five Best: Designer hotels

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The Independent Travel

This attractive hotel - its name is the same as the address - occupies a converted warehouse in Soho. On the ground floor is the restaurant, Kittichai, oriental in its menu and décor, with large bamboos shielding it from the street. On the first floor are the reception area and the lounge - a pleasant place to relax, with clusters of chairs and a roaring fire in winter. Several alcoves open off the main area, with comfy sofas for private relaxation. The bar is contemporary in style, as is the music played in the background.

60 Thompson Street (00 1 877 431 0400; www.thompsonhotels.com). Rooms start at $454 (£252), with an extra $28 (£15.50) for breakfast.

Hudson hotel

At Ian Schrager's Hudson Hotel, nothing is as it seems. It has an unmarked entrance, as befits an establishment located in such a non-descript midtown street. But as you approach, a coloured glass panel slides open to reveal an escalator, which delivers guests to the first-floor reception. Pure theatre awaits: a pitched glass roof is covered with climbing plants, and dark alcoves open on all sides. Behind reception is a bar, where surreal furniture is combined with more traditional pieces. The hotel has 803 rooms, panelled and kitted out like cabins on a very stylish ocean liner.

356 West 58th Street (00 1 212 554 6000; www.morganshotelgroup.com. Rooms start at $372 (£207), with an extra $23.50 (£13) for breakfast.

Library Hotel

Inspired by its proximity to several of the city's main repositories of books, this hotel is a library in miniature. It has a collection of more than 6,000 volumes. Even the reception area is lined with floor-to-ceiling shelving. Each floor is dedicated to a different subject area: literature, social sciences, and so on. Rooms are numbered according to the Dewey library classification system - the poetry room is 800.003, for example. Guests can even take books home, and are trusted to mail them back. Communal facilities include a reading room, where refreshments are always available, and a Writers' Den with a fireplace for winter and outdoor terrace for summer.

299 Madison Avenue at 41st Street (00 1 212 983 4500; www.libraryhotel.com). Rooms start at $384 (£213) including breakfast.

Hotel Roger Williams

This Madison Avenue hotel is tasteful and contemporary, and, unlike many boutique hotels, not at all pretentious. It has just been renovated to create a four-star establishment with 192 rooms, and includes the apparently de rigueur "Roger" in its name. The décor, in the public areas and the rooms, is mostly light wood, offset with blocks of bold colour. Some rooms have terraces overlooking the city. There is a pleasant lounge at mezzanine level, and a fitness centre.

131 Madison Avenue (00 1 212 448 7000; www.hotelrogerwilliams.com). Rooms start at $378 (£210), with an extra $12.95 (£7) for breakfast.

Roger Smith Hotel

Although it has been open since 1926, the staff of this boutique hotel still consider the place a work in progress. The rooms are well-proportioned, with furniture and pictures chosen by the owner. The display in the lobby changes every few months, and the gallery at the side of the hotel rotates exhibitions. Everything is for sale, so if anything takes your fancy, put in an offer: it is apparently not unusual for guests to buy the artwork or furniture in their rooms.

501 Lexington Avenue (00 1 212 755 1400; www.rogersmithhotel.com). Rooms start at $367 (£204), including breakfast.

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