SUNDAY TIMES, July 2004

BEAT THE URBAN HEAT

Cities are cool in the summer – but only if you have an oasis hotel to escape to, says Rob Ryan.

Back in the 1960s, the Lovin’ Spoonful captured the feeling in one glorious three-minute single, viz: it is summer in the city, your neck is both dirty and gritty, and, gosh, there doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.

It is true that some cities bake at gas mark 11 in summer, but that is no reason to avoid them altogether – hotel rates often plummet, especially if the place relies on business traffic. All you need is a survival plan. What is required is a hotel that is also a bolt hole, an oasis, somewhere to get rid of the dirt and the grit, to kick back before launching yourself into the fray once more. Every great city has them – here are 10 suggestions for urban survival.

LONDON The Tube. In summer. Need we say more?

The oasis: one of the traditional ways to seek solace in the summer is in a garden square, a green oasis that residents of surrounds houses and flat have exclusive access to. The Penthouse B&B, on Warwick Square, near Victoria station, not only has the most fabulous cityscape views from its roof terrace, but overlooks a leafy garden square to which guests get access. It also has a tennis court. The owners cook breakfast, which can be taken on the terrace. The main living room has a baby grand piano that you are welcome to you [if you can play, that is].

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