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Haymarket Hotel

Four Seasons used to be the one hotel brand that routinely got service right from the very month it opened a new property. Now the boutiquelike Firmdale Hotels can claim the same accolade: The London-based company (Charlotte Street, The Soho, and Covent Garden Hotels) unveiled the 50-room Haymarket this spring. We stayed there incognito, just four weeks into the debut, and wow—what charm, what attention to detail.

Shigeru, the Japanese German concierge, not only saved us $82 on valet parking by indicating a ticket-free Sunday spot but he also arranged for the parking meter to be fed the following morning before we awoke. My son, a Marmite fan, was given extra minipots to stuff into his pockets by a waiter who noticed his addiction. And my children's nanny, exhausted from her charges, was delivered tea when we arrived, all unasked for.

The design is equally impressive. The suites, light-filled on account of large Regency windows, are done up in pale peppermints and duck's-egg blues. Owner-designer Kit Kemp is confident with bright accents, from sunshine yellow to fuchsia to acid green. Texture, color, and print are layered to create an eclectic aesthetic both searingly modern—take note, for instance, of the 60-foot swimming pool with a zinc bar, gold sofas, and alternating hues of lighting—and comfortingly traditional. Classic notes include the central Asian textile–inspired patterns that run throughout the interiors as well as the satisfying proportions of the original 19th- century John Nash architecture.

But it's the human elements that turn a central, Trafalgar Square location and great piece of design into a hotel that can justify London's sometimes heady room rates. At Haymarket they range from $490 for a double to $4,500 for a two-bedroom suite. Sure, it's got the de rigueur facilities: a solid restaurant serving posh bistro staples, great private-party spaces, beauty room, gym, library bar, and generously sized in-room amenities by London "nose" Lyn Harris. But not many new openings can boast such an effortless sense of experience. At 1 Suffolk Pl.; 44-207/470-4000; haymarkethotel.com.