The lobby was effortfully arranged to be both chic and playful, a high-style white cavern of long carpets and oversized art, of salon-style restaurant (Asian-influenced Cuban) and cocktail spaces, and at first glance you may think it's far too over-styled to be welcoming. I mean, the bar is a faux-speakeasy (Blind Spot) hidden behind some shelves of tea where the waitresses only walk clockwise around the room, and there are stools shaped like human molars because, as designer Philippe Starck says, the English are known for their teeth. (Well not anymore, they aren't. Because of national health care, now the British have better teeth than Americans.) The owners want it to be a party space, and many nights, it is. All of that is silliness, though, not intended to be forbidding, and none of it is why you choose a hotel—so how are the rooms? Not as silly as the ground floor: clean lines, smooth surfaces, huge beds, Malin+Goetz bath products, mirrors and windows as tall as you are, and colored LED lighting that you can change with your mood. Minibars include amenities such as Berocca, a vitamin popular for eliminating hangovers. And the location is one of the best for any hotel in the city, steps from Trafalgar Square and in the heart of the West End—for some, it alone is worth the higher price. Standard rooms have queen beds and a shower, Deluxe has a king bed with shower, but the best rooms are Studio, with king, shower and bathtub and a commanding corner overlooking the Coliseum Theatre next door; those numbers end in 05, and they're ideal.
- Jason Cochran