Hotel Insider This London hotel is a boutique establishment with a sense of place.
Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street offers a great location at a fair price
The hotel is gloriously located at the apex of Seven Dials, an atmospheric enclave in Covent Garden where the buzz from outside comes seeping through the building's 100-year-old walls and into the reception area. An oversized golden sofa, a statue of a small golden sheep and other objets d'art underline this as a cool hotel in one of London's most fashionable areas. The staff are polite: they accompany us to the lift and enquire if we can make our own way to our room. A few minutes later the telephone rings and it is reception asking if there is anything we need.
Covent Garden is home to fashionistas, media types, lawyers and trendy PR executives. Google, Warners and Facebook have all moved in recently and Vogue gave it the ultimate stamp of approval by choosing to hold its London Fashion Week night here. Almost every major London theatre is a short walk away, and the Cambridge Theatre, now home to the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Matilda, is directly opposite. The famous Piazza is just round the corner, as is the Royal Opera House. Trafalgar Square is a 15-minute stroll away and the Houses of Parliament a further 15 minutes, if you fancy a walk.
I was in a suite on the first floor with four large windows that offered a panoramic view of the Seven Dials monument and the cobbled lanes, perfect for people-watching. The windows actually open, a rare thing now in hotels, and when I was there it was surprisingly quiet with little traffic. Each room is decorated with a variety of colours and fabrics. In mine the dominant shade was black, with the occasional splash of crimson. I loved the canopied bed, the seating area, the Smeg fridge (with a Union Jack flag on it) and the theatrical dressing room mirror so much that I found myself wishing I had planned to spend the evening in. The internet was high-speed and easy to access but the impressive-looking Apple TV kept freezing.
Radisson bought the hotel in 1985 and recently spent £15 million (Dh87 million) on a major refurbishment. Thankfully, the group eschewed the corporate look and turned it into a boutique hotel with a sense of place. The guests are as cosmopolitan and chilled as the residents, for whom the hotel is a popular meeting spot.
The Dial Bar and Restaurant provides classic English food: rib-eye steak (£19.50; Dh110); seared sea bass fillet (£18.50; Dh104) and creamy apple trifle (£5.50; Dh31). In keeping with its Covent Garden heritage (who can forget Eliza Doolittle memorably sold flowers in the market there in My Fair Lady), the emphasis is on fresh local produce; the roasted purple carrots and chunky chips are notably delicious. Also, there must be at least 100 cafes and restaurants within a five-minute radius.
Pretty good. The GM is one of the few female general managers in the business and is admirably visible as she monitors proceedings. On realising I was alone on my second visit, the staff helped me out again. Although I wanted only bar food, they suggested I would be more comfortable in the restaurant and that it would not matter which menu I ordered from.
The location. In my view, this is the nicest part of London. Seven Dials is like a village within the bigger district of Covent Garden. It has a great atmosphere and is right in the centre of Theatreland. The hours between 7am and 10am were my favourite - watching the place wake up was a delight.
Having stayed in such a lovely room previously, I found the standard room I checked into this time rather small and ordinary by comparison. However, it was less of a pull to leave it.
The fact that I did return within a few weeks says it all. London hotels are generally expensive and overpriced but this four-star boutique hotels offers good value, particularly if you can get a late deal. It is the perfect spot from which to enjoy the best of the city.
The bottom line
Double rooms cost from £258 (Dh1,495) per night, including taxes. The Radisson Edwardian, 20 Mercer Street, Covent Garden, London (www.radissonedwardian.com; 00 44 20 7836 4300).