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Destination: London

3 New, Notable--and Pricey--Hotels

September 15, 1996|Christopher Reynolds

High-flyers have never had a hard time finding luxurious digs and hefty prices in London, and now is no exception. Aside from the usual suspects--Brown's, Claridge's, the Connaught, the Savoy, the Ritz--this year has so far brought to light three new and notably snazzy small hotels.

The one generating the most talk is the 50-room Covent Garden Hotel (10 Monmount St., telephone 800-553-6674 or 011-44-171-806-1000, fax 011-44-171-806-1100), a former French hospital that has been transformed into a high-style hostelry in the previously hotel-poor heart of the theater district. Since opening in April, the elaborately furnished, neo-traditionally decorated rooms have been renting for about $270 and up (for a double), excluding VAT and breakfast. The hotel's high see-and-be-seen factor shows up especially in the mirrored downstairs bar.

Meanwhile, The Leonard Hotel (15 Seymour St. near Marble Arch, tel. 011-44-171-935-2010, fax 011-44-171-935-6700) has been open since February, asking $230-$265 nightly (VAT and breakfast excluded) and offering 26 spacious rooms (20 of them classified as suites) in an otherwise unexciting neighborhood not far from Oxford Street and Hyde Park. To me, it felt more like a business travelers' retreat than a vacation spot.

There's not as much buzz about the 11-room London Outpost (known formally as the London Outpost of the Carnegie Club, 69 Cadogan Gardens, near the Sloane Square tube, tel. 011-44-171-589- 7333, fax 011-44-171-581-4958), but for quiet elegance, period furniture and a stately neighborhood (not far from Sloane Square and Harrods), and a sense of subtly updated English aristocracy, it gets my vote. Guests need not belong to any club. Until April, this property, which sits on a block of private residences, was known as the Fenja. The new management also runs a luxury country hotel in Stapleford Park, about 100 miles north of London; and Skibo Castle, a golf retreat in Scotland that was once home to Andrew Carnegie. Outpost rates run $235-$365, excluding VAT and breakfast.

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