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Passport Required
London, UK

Although we like to think that we are not so shallow as to first fall for looks when we fall in love, it’s just not true. And so it is with the Covent Garden Hotel. It’s handsome, with its strong red brick façade and dark green panelling. A little showy, with the bright banner of the Union Jack hanging over the door. And indefinably cool, set on the higher end of Monmouth Avenue amidst the Seven Dials district, closer to theatreland than to the tat of Covent Garden itself.

Once inside, Kit Kemp’s strong prints are downplayed by bare floorboards and interesting artworks. It’s her signature and although it’s not to everyone’s taste, I love it and have not yet been disappointed by a Firmdale Hotel.

Service is friendly and multicultural, the staff young but professional. The hotel lacks the big gun glamour of the London super high-end, but its warmth and home-away-from-home feeling more than makes up for it. It still has all the services you would want in a hotel – a bar, the excellent Brasserie Max, a wonderful library area full of stuffed couches, open fireplaces, Ben and Jerry’s in the honesty bar and helpful concierge staff – but it is very much a boutique operation.

We took the Loft Suite and a Deluxe Room. Both were spacious and gracious, the former a mint-green refuge with a soaring ceiling, exposed beams and a tiny table and window seat fitting snugly into a turret nook. The latter was wallpapered head to toe in a chocolate and white toile de jouy with its own miniature library and a garret window looking out over the Seven Dials.

Immediately outside the hotel, a queue of Londoners going about their daily business snakes out of the Monmouth Coffee Company with their lattes and croissants. For gents, you can get an old-school wet shave at Murdock’s next door. Orla Kiely’s retro prints on everything from handbags to bedlinen can be found across the road at her flagship store. And Neals Yard is just steps away, with Neals Yard Remedies still going strong and of course Neals Yard Dairy on Short’s Garden a few steps away. Just follow your nose.

So – our suave little hotel has looks, personality, wit, generosity and a lot of really cool friends. What’s not to love?