An April 1 Travel article incorrectly said that former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko stayed at London's Sheraton Park Lane hotel before his November 2006 death from radiation poisoning. Litvinenko did not stay there, but he met with a hotel guest there in the weeks before his death, and the hotel was one of several locations in the city where traces of contamination by polonium-210 were detected.
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London Hotel Options, From Budget to Deluxe
Info: 011-44-87-0027-4343, http:/
· Flemings Mayfair Hotel, 7-12 Half Moon St. (Mayfair)
Price: $949. Room-only price:$310 (Expedia.com), $301 (Hotels.com), $309 (Hotels.com).
Details: It's nice to find quirky character in such a proper area of London. The lobby of the Flemings Mayfair is filled with inventive floral arrangements (was that a boa in the mix?!), and sepia-toned and black-and-white vintage photographs are scattered throughout the property. Located on a quiet side street off Piccadilly four blocks from the Green Park Tube station on the Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines, the hotel offers 119 rooms with varying color schemes (there are also apartments available), a library bar and a restaurant in a circa 1730 Georgian building. Some rooms offer wireless ($10 for two hours); others have broadbroad ($30 for up to 24-hour access).
Info: 011-44-20-7499-2964, http:/
· Royal Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace at Bayswater Road (Bayswater)
Price: $999. Room-only price:$197 (Orbitz.com), $213 (Quikbook.com), $302 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: The highlight of this mega-hotel is undoubtedly Hyde Park, which is across the street and visible from many of the rooms -- the views are spectacular. However, if you are placed on a lower floor, the view is diminished by a concrete parking garage. The recently renovated 416-room property has the perks of a big hotel: It's clean, has three restaurants and a 24-hour bar, and, when we were there, it had packs of raucous children. The "standard" rooms are just that: standard. Though some boast flat-screen TVs, they are small and basic, with cable-based Internet at about $33 a day. The hotel is just behind the Lancaster Gate station on the Central line.
Info: 011-44-207262-6737, http:/
· Montcalm Hotel Nikko, Great Cumberland Place (Marble Arch)
Price: $1,039. Room-only price:$276.
Details: The Montcalm's interior is archetypal "English shabby." Catering primarily to a Japanese corporate clientele, the hotel has worn carpets, tattered patterned couches and colorful groups of clashing prints, alongside Japanese-influenced room-service and breakfast menus. Located in a Georgian crescent next to a synagogue, the 120-room hotel feels removed and serene despite being minutes by foot from Marble Arch station on the Central line, Hyde Park and Oxford Street (though traffic can be heard from some of the rooms). The standard rooms, while a touch damp, are clean, basic and small, with trouser presses and bidets; the quirky duplex suites offer two-story accommodations, connected by a spiral staircase. Broadband Internet is about $40 a day.
Info: 011-44-20-7402-4288, http:/
· Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly (Mayfair)
Price: $1,239. Room-only price:$315 (Hotels.com), $256 (Quikbook.com).
Details: The busy check-in desk suggests that the small role the hotel played in the Alexander Litvinenko polonium-210 incident (Litvinenko stayed here before he died in November 2006) isn't keeping people away. According to a hotel spokeswoman, "the small area . . . where traces of contamination were detected during the Litvinenko investigation at the end of last year has now been fully remediated," and a report by the British police and the Health Protection Agency concurs that "in the key public areas [at the hotel] there is no significant risk to public health." The guest rooms are spacious and comfortable, if not up to the elegant art deco standards of the ground-floor entryway and the Palm Court, where afternoon tea is served and the bar stays open until 2 a.m. The closest Tube stations to the hotel, which looks out onto Green Park, are Hyde Park Corner and Green Park. Wireless Internet runs about $12 per hour.
Info: 011-44-20-7499-6321, http:/
· Swissotel the Howard, London, 12 Temple Place (The Strand)
Price: $1,349. Room-only price:$311 (Orbitz.com), $233 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com), $572 (Quikbook.com).
Details: Primarily a business hotel -- there are three phones in each guest room -- the Swissotel's lone London location offers a great view of the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament to Tower Bridge from 65 of its 89 rooms. (The others overlook a courtyard.) Just opposite the Temple Tube station on the Circle and District lines, and within walking distance of Covent Garden, the hotel has espresso machines and a varied tea selection in all rooms, broadband (about for $30 a day) and complimentary use of an off-site fitness center (though crossing a bridge and running along the Thames would be a great way to explore the riverside location). All rooms come with king-size beds, and most deluxe rooms have a separate sitting area.
Info: 011-44-20-7836-3555, http:/
· Landmark London Hotel, 222 Marylebone Road (Marylebone)
Price: $1,459. Room-only price:$381 (Quikbook.com), $387 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: As its name implies, this hotel is a site, and a sight. The refurbished Victorian building, which maintains original Gothic architecture, stained-glass windows and fireplaces, is dominated by its contemporary and exquisite central atrium: a glass-roofed, six-story space with palm trees, couches, marble flooring and live classical music wafting from the mezzanine cafe. Some of the spacious 299 rooms offer views of the central atrium, others look to the posh streets of Marylebone, and still others open onto temporary scaffolding. (The old edifice must, by law, be maintained.) The Landmark offers a Sunday champagne brunch ($127) and has several restaurants and a swish bar, as well as a gift shop and hair salon. A gym/spa/pool is being renovated and should be open by the end of the month. The pleasant rooms don't offer many unusual perks -- aside from PlayStation, that is -- but make you feel as if you're seriously on vacation. Broadband is $28.50 a day.
Info: 011-44-20-7631-8000, http:/
· The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly (Mayfair)
Price: $1,889. Room-only price:$625 (Expedia.com, Hotels.com).
Details: You may think ornate rooms with decorative gold moldings, Louis XVI decor and custom-made carpeting aren't your style, and perhaps they're not. But the Ritz, which opened its doors in 1906 and where guests are greeted by name, also has some fun up its sleeve, as seen by the vintage photos in the guest rooms: One shows Tallulah Bankhead drinking champagne from her shoe. Even if you don't stay here, consider splurging on afternoon tea in the Palm Court ($71 per person) or having a drink in one of the public rooms, just to get a taste of opulence. (Jacket and tie are required for men.) The Ritz also offers a full-service salon and fitness room, DVD players and broadband Internet access (about $40 for 24-hour access). The Green Park Tube station, on the Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines, is next door.
Info: 011-44-20-7493-8181, http:/
London freelance writer Judy Batalion contributed to this story.