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    All eyes were on this chic capital in 2012, and the spotlight shows no sign of fading. From the most desirable hotels to the bars to be seen in, this is our ultimate city guide

    stylish stays

    For the chic crowd: The Dorchester, Mayfair. An old favorite, and for good reason. So bewitching is this Park Lane grande dame – Alain Ducasse and China Tang restaurants, an exceptional spa and the most impressive concierge staff in London – that even the most discerning guests (everyone from Kate Moss to Dustin Hoffman) stay here. New for 2013, Alberto Pinto’s exquisite art deco Ballroom has been restored to its original glory – make sure you sneak a peek.

    For character: The Stafford London by Kempinski, St James’s. Tucked away on a genteel side street, The Stafford radiates Englishness. With 380-year-old cellars and carriage-houses-turned-five- star-suites, you feel like you’re in the countryside rather than in one of the busiest cities in the

    world. It’s also the first hotel in London to launch a “horcierge”, catering to all your equine needs.

    For culture: The Ampersand Hotel, Kensington. There’s something of a museum appearance to The Ampersand, with framed feathers and botanical sketches decorating the walls – but it is the very opposite of stuffy. By day, chic French women fill the patisserie; by night, the exposed brick and tile underground cocktail bar and Mediterranean restaurant comes alive. Perch at the bar for rounds of Inigo J cocktails, a delicious wintry concoction of gin and spiced berries.


    Words: Lydia Bell.

    Photograph: Nico

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