One of London's swankiest hotels, One Aldwych (One Aldwych; +44-20-7300-1000; PS195+) is located in the heart of theater-land just south of Covent Garden and within easy reach of gay nightlife. One Aldwych bills itself as "a contemporary luxury hotel" and its 105 rooms and suites boast feather and down duvets with Italian linen sheets, power showers, bathroom TVs, and daily fresh fruit and flowers, plus access to a state-of-the-art gym, a swimming pool with underwater music, a sauna, and steam rooms.
Just around the corner from the Ritz, The May Fair (Stratton St.; +44-20-7629-7777; PS160+), the destination for Hollywood's elite in the '60s, offers classic elegance, luxe drama, and the utmost in high-tech amenities. Reborn in 2004 after a PS75-million renovation, this palace of contemporary chic, favored by Cher, Gloria Estefan, Christina Aguilera, and countless decorative divas and divos, has 406 rooms, all of which feature thrilling design. If meetings have kept you indoors and prevented you from experiencing London's weather, fear not: Bathrooms boast rain showers with settings ranging from "Light London Mist" to "Torrential Rain." The sumptuous spa, most popular with men, offers Pevonia products, solid, heated marble hammam beds, and private showers in each treatment room.
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If all the understated work attire is cramping your style, make a statement with a stay at Blakes Hotel (33 Roland Gardens, SW7; +44-20-7370-6701 or 800-926-3173; PS175+) in Chelsea/South Kensington. Blakes is the couture address, the creation of London designer Anouska Hempel. Each of the 51 rooms is custom-decorated, reflecting themes that could be right out of a fashion shoot.
Soho's sharp gay-friendly hotel, the Courthouse (19-21 Great Marlborough St.; +44-20-7297-5555; PS300+) occupies a former magistrate's court (circa 1800). Its Silk restaurant, replete with docks and judge's bench, evokes Marlene Dietrich's big moment in Witness for the Prosecution.
Located in up-and-coming Clerkenwell, the Zetter Hotel (St. John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Rd.; +44-20-7324-4444; PS195+) provides a convenient high-tech hideaway with small but well-equipped rooms (ask for a rooftop studio cabana -- they boast outdoor patios with stunning views). The Zetter's TV-cum-information center offers an impressive (free) music library, Internet access, and links to global radio stations to keep you up-to-date with developments back home.
B+B Belgravia (64-66 Ebury St., Belgravia; +44-20-7259-8570; PS99+) provides comfortable and contemporary accommodation with flat-screen TVs and free Internet access. Located in an elegant residential area, it's just a five-minute walk from Victoria rail, subway, and coach stations. An open fire in the guest lounge and delicious, organic, cooked breakfasts add to the appeal of this chic, well-designed property.
Make the most of your time off by checking into the Soho Hotel (4 Richmond Mews; +44-20-7559-3000; PS280+), smack-dab in the middle of Soho, the gayest part of London's West End. The hotel boasts beautifully appointed rooms, a well-equipped gym, screening rooms, and a head-spinningly attractive crowd. Soho itself offers bars, pubs, restaurants, and cafes galore, but you may not want to eat anywhere but the hotel. Refuel offers upscale takes on British comfort food in a sleek setting (formerly a car park).