Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. London Hotels

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. London Hotels

Article excerpt

Credit: Mark Mason

The test of a truly great city is reinvention. Does it have the courage to change? London holds a PhD in meta-morphosis -- just look at the buildings it converts into hotels.

Hazlitt's in Soho is named after William, whose house it once was. Round the corner, the Courthouse occupies what used to be Great Marlborough Street Magistrates' Court, where Michael Caine was ordered to pay palimony, Oscar Wilde foolishly sued for libel and I was done for busking. (I keep meaning to go back and have dinner on the exact same spot.) Bow Street Magistrates' Court is also being converted -- four of the hotel's bedrooms will occupy the old cells.

Down on the river, the old Greater London Council HQ has become the Marriott County Hall, which Ken Livingstone says annoys him, making it even more fun to stay there than it would be anyway. Also offering Thames views soon will be the ex-Port of London Authority building at Tower Hill, and Sea Containers House near the Oxo Tower. The latter is being transformed into the Mondrian Hotel -- it'll honour the nautical history with a huge copper hull running from outside the building into the lobby.

The Rosewood on High Holborn started life as head office for the Pearl Assurance Company, whose boardrooms are now the hotel's meeting rooms, with listed mahogany panelling to match. Former office buildings are also in use at the budget end of the market, some of them in the Square Mile: the Bank Travelodge nestles in a peaceful courtyard off St Swithin's Lane, while the excellent Tune Hotel is a few short steps from Bishopsgate. …

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