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  London - Where to Stay

Hotel rates are high in London. Upscale hotels are concentrated in the areas of Mayfair, St. James and Bloomsbury, to the east side of Hyde Park and to the north of the long road known as Piccadilly. Another favored area is somewhat to the west, in the elegant districts of Knightsbridge and Kensington. Budget hotels are found in the areas around Victoria and Paddington Stations. Both areas are relatively safe.

Below is a small sampling of hotels recommended by our correspondents; it is not intended to be a comprehensive list. Generally they offer reduced rates on weekends and sometimes for business travelers and convention bookings. Expect to pay within these general guidelines, including VAT, based on the standard rate for a single room: $ = 40-80; $$ = 80-120; $$$ = more than 120. Always ask if the rate quoted includes the 17.5% VAT.

At Or Near The Airport

Gatwick Hilton—At Gatwick Airport. Covered walkway to the south terminal. A plain, five-story block with good business and convention facilities. Indoor pool. $$$. Gatwick Airport, West Sussex RH6 OLL, phone 01293-518-080, fax 01293-579-027.

Forte Posthouse- Gatwick—Comfortable motel less than 1 mi/2 km from Gatwick; free shuttle to airport every half hour. Restaurant, meeting facilities for up to 150 persons. Some rooms for nonsmokers. $$. Povey Cross Road, Horley, Surrey, RH6, phone 01293-771-621, fax 01293-771-054.

London Heathrow Hilton—At Heathrow Airport. Covered walkway to Terminal 4, with bus and underground connections. This very modern six-story building has a high-tech look with glass-walled walkways, exposed steelwork, much white-and-chrome. Business and convention facilities, indoor pool. $$$. Terminal 4, Heathrow Airport, Middlesex, TW6, phone 0181-759-7755, fax 0181-759-7579.

West End And City

The Savoy—Between the Strand and Thames Embankment. Combines aristocratic ambience with the convenience of a rooftop heated pool and gymnasium, 13 meeting rooms, largest for 450. $$$. The Strand, WC2, phone 836-4343, fax 240-6040.

The Ritz—Landmark hotel on Piccadilly adjoining Green Park, a grand venue since 1906. Opulent public rooms; guest rooms with Louis XVI furnishings. $$$. 150 Piccadilly, W1V, phone 493-8181, fax 493-2687.

Le Meridien—Plain reception opens to fine public rooms; guest rooms comfortably furnished; warm colors. Classical stone frontage incorporates curved glass conservatory of second-floor restaurant. Excellent indoor pool, six meeting rooms, largest for 250. $$$. Close to Piccadilly Circus. 21 Piccadilly, W1V, phone 734-8000, fax 437-3574.

The Dorchester—Famed for its style and class since it opened in 1931. Traditionally excellent service (three staffers for each room), air conditioning and famous restaurants. Five meeting rooms, largest for 550, spa but no pool. $$$. 53 Park Lane (facing Hyde Park), W1A, phone 629-8888, fax 409-0144.

Basil Street Hotel—Location, charm and price all commend this Edwardian-style hostelry virtually adjacent to Harrods and not far from Victoria Station and Hyde Park. The ambience is cozy rather than splendid, with traditional furnishings and attentive service. Restaurant and cocktail lounge. Some rooms minus bath and air conditioning, three meeting rooms, largest for 80. $$. 8 Basil St. (Knightsbridge), SW3 1AH, phone 581-3311, fax 581-3693.

The Lanesborough—Represents a massive investment in which a landmark building (a former hospital) was converted to a luxury hotel. High-class interior appointments (it has not acquired the patina of age you’d find in some of the great hotels). Five meeting rooms, largest for 70. $$$. Hyde Park Corner (just south of park), SW1X 7TA, phone 259-5599, fax 259-5606.

Landmark London—In front of Marylebone station, set back slightly from a busy road. Classic facade of brick and sculpted, honey-colored stone. Built 1899, restored 1993. Grand entrance to vast atrium with potted palms; informal dining in Winter Gardens; breathtaking ballroom; swimming pool and health club. Large guest rooms in Regency style, double rooms only. Top-drawer for luxury, although the location is not perfect. Ten meeting rooms, largest for 350. $$$. 222 Marylebone Rd., NW1 6JQ, phone 631-8000, fax 631-8033.

Academy Hotel—Small, clean, budget hotel with 50 rooms in the Bloomsbury district, near the British Museum and Oxford Street shops. $$. 17-25 Gower St., WC1, phone 631-4115, fax 636-3442.

Near Attractions

Holiday Inn Nelson Dock 265—Original house from 1740, yellow-brick additions from 1990. Opposite side of River Thames from Canary Wharf, an interesting area of salvaged waterfront historic buildings and new housing. Museum and dry-moored vessel alongside. Riverboat service to north bank and the rejuvenated London Docklands. Offers 19 meeting rooms, largest for 350. $$. 265 Rotherhithe St., SE16, phone 231-1001, fax 231-0599.

Clive Hotel—Three mi/5 km from the West End, close to Chalk Farm subway in Hampstead. A quiet, classy residential area. Four meeting rooms, largest for 250. $. Primrose Hill Road, Hampstead NW3 3NA, phone 586-2233, fax 586-1659.

Hotel Number 16—Converted row of old town houses in museum quarter. Breakfast included. 16 Sumner Place, South Kensington. $. Phone 589-5232, fax 584-8615.

Five Sumner Place—Attractive small hotel in stately residential area close to museums. Breakfast included. 5 Sumner Place, South Kensington. $. Phone 584-7586, fax 823-9962.