Here’s my problem: I want to stay in a centrally located London hotel that combines thoughtful design and attentive service with a touch of luxury — you know, those little details, such as a heated towel rack in a bathroom stocked with big fluffy white towels, maybe some Penhaligon’s or Molton Brown toiletries and a deep soaking tub — but I don’t want to spend more than 220 pounds per night, including tax.
That may sound like a lot — about $260 a night — but consider this: A late October stay at the Savoy would run about $935 a night. Even the U.S. State Department allows employees traveling to London a per-diem of $299 a night.
I’ve found a solution: Many four- and five-star London townhouse hotels sell their coziest rooms at a relatively affordable price.
These rooms, often on the highest floors, usually offer the same fine bed linens, 24-hour room service and elegant marble-clad bathrooms you would find in the bigger and much more expensive rooms.
Before we continue, two things you need to know:
►Because some of these rooms sleep only one person, make sure to choose “one guest” when searching on websites to ensure the smaller rooms show up.
►Prices listed here include tax and reflect the lowest rates I found for off-peak travel, but rates and rooms are as always subject to availability. Demand often increases prices or, conversely, lowers them.
The five-star, 35-room Draycott Hotel doesn’t mince words: “Single rooms are small,” it says on its website. How small? About 123 square feet, slightly less than the lowest-category cabin on many cruise ships.
Even so, you’ll get a power shower in the bathroom, free Wi-Fi, individual climate control and satellite TV.
With rates starting about $199 a night, the price is hard to beat, especially because your stay includes complimentary afternoon tea and shortbread cookies (baked fresh by the managing director’s wife) and, each evening, a free Champagne happy hour (it’s the real deal, not sparkling white wine) served in the comfy sitting room. Guests also can enjoy the large private garden out back.
Info: 26 Cadogan Gardens, London; draycotthotel.com
It rents a 107-square-foot “box room,” so called because that’s where they would have stored the boxes in days of yore, for about $199 a night if you choose the right dates.
This snug hideaway is decorated like a ship’s cabin with a sleigh bed built for one and calls to mind the room depicted in pre-Raphaelite painter Henry Wallis’ “The Death of Chatterton,” hanging in the Tate Gallery. (It’s much more luxurious than the lifeless young poet’s garret depicted in the painting.)
Info: 12 Folgate St.; battylangleys.com
Enjoy the bathroom’s heated marble floors, just like those in rooms costing twice as much, along with plush bathrobes, Nespresso coffee makers and luxurious duck down duvets, for about $260.
Even though you’re paying a lot less than other guests, you can still join a free 70-minute walking tour of the storied neighborhood at 11 a.m. Saturdays, led by a licensed Blue Badge Guide.
Info: 16-22 Great Russell St.
Whatever size you book, you get a free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, Nespresso machines and bottled mineral water. I found rates as low as $243 for the box rooms (110 square feet); the larger cosy rooms cost about the same or slightly more.
Info: 22 Stanley Gardens, London, portobellohotel.com
Dean Street Townhouse Hotel
The Dean Street Townhouse Hotel offers “tiny” and “cosy” rooms (160-180 square feet). Rates vary widely depending on season, but some nights you can book a room for about $209.
Info: 69-71 Dean St., deanstreettownhouse.com
With 129 rooms, Flemings Mayfair offers a “tiny single room” (86 square feet) as well as “deluxe single” rooms (129 square feet), in the city’s fancy Mayfair section.
Nightly rates for the tiny singles run about $230; the deluxe singles cost around $26 more per night.
No matter what the rate, you get nightly turn-down service, free Wi-Fi, marble baths and 24-hour room service.
Info: 7-12 Half Moon St., flemings-mayfair.co.uk