I’ve never had much desire to swing a cat, which is just as well as there’d be no room for doing that in our bedroom at Mimi’s Soho.
But then this new hotel is on buzzy Frith Street, with myriad entertainment options within metres of its door. Even inveterate moggy botherers would probably agree location wins out over space here.
The former bar and nightclub was taken over in 2014 by German property firm Land Union, which spent three years gutting the Soho townhouse – next door to the beautifully tiled Dog and Duck pub on the corner of Bateman Street – and fitting in 58 bedrooms across six floors. That feat was achieved not only by erring on the bijou side when it came to room size but by dispensing, in more than half them, with that popular feature known as a window.
So, yes, the rooms are mostly tiny – though there is a 21 square metre “Lux” at around £220 a night. Our “Cosy” double (from £119 a night) is 14 square metres, and womb-like in both its snug proportions and its puce and red velvet decor. There’s no wardrobe or luggage rack, just a couple of padded hangers on a hook and a slot under the bed for a case. There’s no sofa or desk, just a diminutive pouffe-like armchair and another seat incorporated into a narrow telephone table.
But we have the luxury of a window, from which I enjoy some great people watching. And where size matters, the room delivers: there’s a large Frette linen-clad bed, whose German-made Sleep&Dreams mattress is the best I’ve ever slept on. It does take up most of the floor space, and husband bashes the wall when he tries to swing his legs out of bed in the dark, but it’s a masterpiece of sleeping technology. In the bronze-mosaic en suite, the washbasin and loo are, er, wee, but the shower is well-sized, with monsoon head; the toiletries are Molton Brown and the towels generous and sturdy. And I like the way the heated mirror doesn’t steam up.
I feel, though, that a British developer would have found a corner for a kettle and a couple of slimline mugs. Even hedonists like a cuppa, and while hot drinks are available from the bar or room service, they’re £3.95 a time, which soon eats into your going-out money.
Because going out is, of course, what staying in Soho is about. Two minutes down the road, we get our names on the list at popular, no-bookings Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers – almost next door to jazz mecca Ronnie Scott’s – then stroll back to Mimi’s snazzy, art-lined Henson’s bar (yes, that is an original Picasso sketch, and an Andy Warhol banana) while we wait for a table. After dinner, we take in a late comedy show at Soho Theatre and, after more drinks, it’s a treat to know the night’s not going to end in a long tube or cab ride home. (For those who prefer to eschew the fleshpots – though why stay in Soho? – there is in-room entertainment, with complimentary films.)
For mornings after nights before, Soho is as well-served with cafes for breakfast as with late-night bars but, a short stagger from our room, Henson’s bar does a coffee and pastry combo for around a fiver, or luxurious extras such as avocado or smoked salmon on sourdough.
We have an undisturbed night: the rooms all claim to have “complete noise insulation”, though smart, branded earplugs are also provided. Thinking that at weekends things might be different, I ask for a tour, and admire the windowless bedrooms which, though not for the claustrophobic, are cosy, quiet and ingeniously designed. Especially, ahem, the one I dub “Fifty Shades”, its bed built into a basement arch under a metal frame with handy rings for attaching, well, who knows? This is Soho. Let’s hope the noise insulation works both ways.
• Accommodation was provided by Mimi’s Soho (020-8017 9100, Mimishotelsoho.com, doubles from £98 room only)
Ask a local
Gemma Leader, box office superviser, Soho Theatre
Soho is great for vegetarians! There’s Mildreds on Lexington Street, the first Veggie Pret, on Broadwick Street, and Govinda’s on Soho Street, run by the Hare Krishna community.
You could walk past Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown on Gerrard Street, without realising it’s there. But inside it is buzzy, with innovative cocktails.
Berwick Street has great record shops such as Reckless Records (30) and Sister Ray (75) and a fantastic market.
See a film at Curzon Soho, on Shaftesbury Avenue, and sign the petition to save it from being demolished.