Overnight Sensation

London's new stunner

At the Soho Hotel the tone of total cool is set by Johnny, the plump Cockney doorman with a gray flannel flatcap and a gimlet eye for service. From there, this major opening by veterans Tim and Kit Kemp only gets better. The couple behind the Covent Garden and Charlotte Street hotels have secured a plum location in a former parking garage in the heart of bubbling Soho, where the city's gay glitterati hang barside with actors and filmmakers (in fact the hotel has two private cinemas, one with cowhide club-style chairs and walls covered in charcoal pinstriped wool). Every one of the 85 gorgeous rooms was designed as a distinct variation on the classic English repertoire—linens, wingback chairs, wools, all confidently spiked with contemporary touches, like bold fuchsias, oversize paisley prints, and modern sofas. There are also flat-panel TVs throughout,as well as granite bathrooms stocked with citrus-scented products by London perfumer Miller Harris. Most important, the Soho figured out that travelers—especially Americans—demand size: At 290 square feet, the smallest room, No. 320, is downright decadent in a city notoriously tight on space, and the suites (500 is a hot-pink favorite) are larger than most private residences in this part of town. But the real revelation is the six apartments, each with a private entrance and elevator. They're palatial (the largest, Nos. 3 and 6, are 1,300 square feet each), with decors ranging from a zany mix of Formica and acid green to a French-country two-bedroom in duck's-egg blue. The food here may not wow hard-core gourmands, but the fresh and interesting dinner menu includes a delicious cumin-roasted Aylesbury duck with harissa sour cream. It's served in the brasserie-style Refuel Bar and Restaurant, which starts buzzing as soon as offices close. Guests, free to dip in and out of this inimitably London scene, can always retreat to the chic drawing room and library to contemplate a few pieces—aboriginal sculptures, a Roger Cecil canvas—from the hotel's unsurprisingly good art collection. Rates, $435-$4,650. At 4 Richmond Mews; 44-20/7559-3000; www.sohohotel.com.