The hotel's unique selling point is, "anything goes, no questions asked". Martin, the doorman who gives me a tour, does nothing to dispel this image.
Sanctum Soho, London
London's latest offering - two Grade II-listed town houses converted into a 30-room hotel - awaits down a surprisingly peaceful central London street. Inside it is polished, dark, with a small reception and the air of a members-only club. Sanctum Soho is owned by restaurateur Mark Fuller, who also has the Embassy nightclub just down the road in Mayfair and is scheduled to open another club and restaurant on the top three floors of Dubai's Grosvenor House hotel's second tower at the end of next year. Before my visit, I had read that Fuller wanted to create an "exclusive and extravagant playpen for rock 'n' rollers". The hotel's unique selling point is, "anything goes, no questions asked". Martin, the doorman who gives me a tour, does nothing to dispel this image. There's a bar, of course, but also a glamorous underground cinema and a residents-only rooftop terrace where guests can dip into an eight-seat hot tub while being waited on day or night.
Located in London's colourful Soho district, you could not ask to stay anywhere more central. Carnaby, Regent, Bond and Oxford streets, offering a dizzying array of shops, and the best sights, restaurants, clubs and theatres, are all just a short walk away.
It ranged from the aloof but efficient, to the kind of indulgence that makes you feel - no matter how many guests are staying - that you are the special one. But it did depend on the member of staff.
Each room is unique and designed by Lesley Purcell, whose previous projects include Claridges and the Savoy. There are seven types of room: compact "crash pads" are just that (bed, TV, no wardrobe), while the rest increase in size up to the top suites. I had a deluxe double (three grades up). Since it bore no resemblance to the photo on the hotel's website, I asked if I was in the right room (yes). Still, it was nicely decked out in browns and golds, with an art-deco, marble bathroom, flatscreen TV and walls covered in shimmery gravel. The Wii console is a nice touch but I would have had to stand on my bed to play it. Some suites did have the space and style I was expecting of a rock-and-roll lair - circular beds, glittery disco-mirrored ceilings, desks that double as cocktail bars in lounge areas, huge, free-standing tubs. Extras that the hotel is happy to provide include Nike trainers, guitar and amps, a 24-hour "guitar doctor" and in-room spa treatments.
A rock band playing on the roof on the hotel's opening night in April set the tone - not surprisingly, given that it is aimed at music, film and media-industry types. Professional party-girl Peaches Geldof and designer Julian Macdonald have been spotted hanging out but it's still early days. When I was there on a Saturday night, I saw a few couples, a businessman and some wealthy-looking tourists who had booked out the top two penthouses.
There is one restaurant - No 20 - serving mostly delicious English favourites: dressed crab and pea and mint soup; spit-roast Goosnarg chicken with creamy leeks; treacle tart and clotted cream. It is good value, too, at about US$65 (Dh238) per head. I sat at one of the copper-coloured booths with a great view of the open-hatch kitchen, lounge and bar, both open-plan. The chairs are upholstered in red crushed velvet and shiny patent leather, while the delicately lit columns, trendy artworks by Xavier Pick and soundtrack add to the cool ambience.
That breakfast does not finish until 11am, and checkout is midday, which makes for a lovely lie-in rather than the usual mad rush. I wanted to take the Lefroy Brooks Bel Air bathroom fittings home with me - very stylish. And it's good to know you are not going to get told off for partying on the roof. But if that's not your scene, don't worry: from your soundproofed rooms you'd never know it was happening.
The too-quiet atmosphere in the restaurant. I wanted it be alive with the city's fashionistas (again, it's still early days). I had a fight with the bathroom extractor fan that wouldn't go off. I'd also like the hotel to update its website so that guests have a clear picture of what to expect when they walk into their rooms for the first time.
You've got location and style, and that always-open and exclusive outdoor space (great for London). But I think the prices might be a little on the expensive side for the smaller-sized rooms.
Double "crash pads" cost from $268 (Dh983) per night including taxes. Sanctum Soho, 20 Warwick St, London (www.sanctumsoho.com; 0044 207 292 8306). Bookings can also be made through www.designhotels.com.