Two recent openings in London's southwestern enclaves prove that high style doesn't have to come at a high price. The intimate Rockwell (181 Cromwell Rd., SW5; 44-207/244-2000; www.therockwell.com; doubles from $284) comprises 40 rooms tricked out with oak furniture and Neisha Crosland wallpaper, housed in an elegant Georgian manse that retains such period details as wrought-iron banisters and mosaic-tile floors. Add 24-hour room service and a trendy restaurant, One-Eight-One, and you get what may be South Kensington's choicest opening in years. Nearby, upstart company base2stay (25 Courtfield Gardens, SW5; 44-207/244-2255; www.base2stay.com; doubles from $170) puts an affordable spin on serviced apartments in a white-stucco town house near Earl's Court. The 67 units, designed in a sparsely chic Scandinavian vein, all have kitchenettes and daily maid service—and most have spacious bathrooms (a bonus in London at any price). Nearby restaurants, gyms, laundromats, and shopping are handily listed for guests. Pound for pound, these hotels are hard to beat.
At base2stay, a deceptively normal white stucco and wrought iron exterior belies a stylish interior representing one of the most innovative hotel concepts in London. Established by Robert Nadler in 2006, base2stay does away with frequently unused hotel frills, such as gyms and restaurants, and instead focuses on providing modern, super-comfortable rooms. The result? A luxurious stay at an unbelievably affordable price. Each of the Kensington location's 67 rooms features simple yet elegant black and white décor, a well-stocked kitchenette, a flat screen HDTV, free Wi-Fi, luxurious beds and an interactive "base directory" of nearby museums, restaurants and shops.
The epitome of understated chic, the Rockwell welcomes guests in a cozy reception lounge outfitted with an elegant library, vibrant flowers and even a kids' playing area. The hotel's 40 affordable guestrooms are stylish, featuring large windows, flat screen TVs, complimentary Internet access, soft Egyptian cotton linens, and bathrooms by noted designer Philippe Starck, complete with fluffy bathrobes and luxurious White Company products. The Rockwell's convenient South Kensington location also makes it easy to explore the city before returning for cocktails in the garden, where lighted flowerpots create an enchanting atmosphere after sundown.