So, you grab a golden hand sticking out of a wall and a door opens to the buzz of a party on the other side. Close it again, look around and the reception area of St Martins Lane Hotel carries on as normal – serene with super-hip staff gliding around, clothed in black, there to help when needed, almost invisible when not. And then, of course, you go back to the golden hand because that party on the other side is The Blind Spot – a hidden cocktail bar in the heart of the establishment. Downside? Drinks are markedly more expensive than other bars in the area. Upside? You know your room is only stumbling distance away.
Rooms, while we are on the subject, aren’t particularly on the huge side – Philippe Starck has done well to create a stylish, minimalist design that gives a feeling of space where there isn’t any – here, less really is more. Dominating the space, big and comfy beds with marshmallow-like pillows coax you to sleep – but not before you play with the mood lighting’s colours and dimmers. Tiled bathrooms that are long, thin and sparse still manage to exude luxury.
Squeezed between the West End and Covent Garden, outside offers an inexhaustible list of shops, bars, galleries, theatres and restaurants all within walking distance – it’s a struggle to think of anywhere better to make base camp. But before you even walk out through the revolving doors, look behind you to one of the capital’s destination restaurants – Asia de Cuba. A bustling, noisy experience of exceptional Cuban cooking married with South East Asian influences – if you want to know if crispy calamari goes with banana, you’ll find out here. In the morning it doubles as a breakfast area where our advice is to order from the menu rather than go for the cooked buffet, which tends to go cold quite quickly – not the best if you’re nursing a hangover from the night before in The Blind Spot.
Where to start? Everything you want is literally never more than five minutes walk. Pubs in the area are all over-populated and busy, but if you want a good selection of ales, look no further The Harp (Chandos Place) for something a bit different. If beer’s not your thing, The Port House (next to The Adelphi) on the Strand does fine gin and tonics along with tapas and, er, port. For food, look no further than the local branch of Dishoom just three minutes away.