Maria Shollenbarger
April 10, 2009

If London’s 500-room grandes dames aren’t your cuppa (or in your price range), you’ll be happy to find yet another great Firmdale outpost in the city’s theater district. This month, the company behind bespoke properties such as the Covent Garden Hotel, the Charlotte Street Hotel, and Number Sixteen throws open the doors of the Haymarket Hotel (1 Suffolk Place; 44-20/7470-4000; doubles from $480), next to the historic Haymarket Theatre. The 50 rooms and suites are characterized by that quirky Firmdale style, which, ahem, never resorts to understatement: fuchsia, mango, and turquoise abound, as do original works of art and antiques. Brumus Bar & Restaurant—tricked out entirely in crimson and magenta, with a wall of windows onto happening Haymarket Street—serves up northern Italian dishes and prime people-watching. Just don’t confuse the hotel’s indoor pool lounge with part of any tame wellness center; its sleek wenge-and-pewter bar, nightclub-caliber sound system, custom lighting, and 300-person capacity are clearly intended for sporting of a social nature.

Brumus Bar & Restaurant

Designed in mauve, burgundy and shimmering gold hues, this fine dining favorite in the Haymarket Hotel is a study in modern luxury and secluded serenity, despite its location in the bustling West End. Set beside the Haymarket Theatre and across the street from Her Majesty’s, Brumus is a popular spot for pre-show dinners of fresh, seasonal fare such as succulent beef bourguignon in a rich red wine sauce. Visitors also rave about the restaurant’s divine breakfast dishes and elegant afternoon tea served in delicate Wedgwood china alongside exquisite sandwiches, crave-worthy cakes and warm scones with fresh jams and clotted cream.

Haymarket Hotel

“Why not have some fun!” may well have been what Kit Kemp said as she released her arsenal of bold colors and supergraphic effects on the public spaces of the former American Express London headquarters in the heart of the theater district. Masters of the clubby/cozy/contemporary (including one of our all-time favorites, the Charlotte Street Hotel), the designer and her husband and business partner, Tim Kemp, create memorable public spaces. Even the Haymarket’s indoor pool lounge is no mere fitness center—its wenge-and-pewter bar, nightclub-caliber sound system, and 300-person capacity are clearly meant for after-hours activities.

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