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Find intrigue, art and perhaps the best amenities ever at London’s South Place Hotel

The views aren’t grand, but the rooms are a perfect mix of contemporary and cozy.

Leading up to the opening of Skyfall, 007's latest installment, London has been consumed with the spy theme: Daniel Craig's sexy scowl appears supersized on billboards and hotels are offering secret agent-themed packages. But if you're looking for a more subtle spy experience – an air of mystery is a requisite for a secret agent, after all – the new South Place Hotel, with its impressive art collection and dining scene, is where you should lay your head.


The hotel's spy reference (just don't call it a theme) was born of its location: between Liverpool and Moorgate Streets, home to a Soviet spy ring in the 1920s. Located at the edge of the city, London's financial and commercial heart, these days it's less mysterious and more suits-meets-scenester, since hip and gritty Shoreditch is just north of the hotel. If the major tourist attractions are on your hit list, you're a little removed, but if this trip is not your first, it's a great area to explore, especially if you're heading toward Brick Lane Market in Shoreditch.

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Modern interiors and work by contemporary artists make the space feel like a live-in gallery. Throughout the hotel you'll find John Vincent Aranda's collages (based on classic British condiments and spreads), a collection of wire shoes by British metalsmith Cathy Miles, and a mannequin display by AMD Interior Architecture. In addition to a large collection of public art throughout the hotel, each room also has images from London's Hoxton Art Gallery and Jealous Gallery.


So simple, yet so pleasantly surprising: a lemon and a lime artfully displayed on a cutting board, accompanied by a knife for garnishing in-room, self-made cocktails. (Come on, how many times have you wished for a slice of lime to accompany a post-exploring gin in the comfort of your room?) The selection of British snacks and liquor, including Sipsmith gin, is also a nice touch, and another quirky feature is a toaster in every room. (At first, I wondered, but after some contemplation I say "well done" because toast at the right temperature can make or break a breakfast.)


Because of its location, the hotel caters to mostly suit-clad, business-types on weekdays. But on weekends, the Shoreditch scenester crowd treks in to hear DJ/mixologist Teamy Teamy of Glasgow underground music fame. The result is an interesting mix of travellers and locals.


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The tradeoff for being in London's business centre is a lack of green space outside your door, and you're likely looking into a neighbouring office window as you sit in your room, sipping morning coffee.

After a few days, a park is a sight for sore and nature-lacking eyes but, thankfully, it's only a Tube ride away.


South Place is the first hotel from well-known restaurant group D&D, owners of more than 30 restaurants mostly in London, but also in Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo and New York, so the dining does not disappoint. On the ground floor, 3 South Place, an all-day British diner, offers a more casual vibe with a well-edited menu.

The Lobster Mac is a signature macaroni-and-cheese dish that's worth the hype. The Earl Grey tea burnt cream dessert is also worth pushing your digestive limits. Angler, a high-end seafood restaurant, is located on the hotel's seventh floor and worth the elevator ride up just to see the space. If you prefer a quiet cocktail, the secret garden atrium bar on the first floor is open only to hotel guests.


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Chic and comfortable, the rooms are an ideal mix of contemporary and cozy. One of my favourite spaces in the 80-room hotel is Le Chiffre, a games and reading room named for a Bond villain in Casino Royale. There, you can play billiards or catch up on your spy and crime reading by a fireplace with tomes by Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming and John le Carré before retreating back to your room for the night.

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