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The new wave of London hotels, meanwhile, specialize in keeping the public away. With Britain's economy still struggling, these new properties have been welcome investments, funded by businessmen from the Gulf states looking to create the kind of places they would like to stay.
"People from the Arab world feel at ease in London," said Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of the Jumeirah Group, the Dubai hotel group that is expanding its brand around the world. "They often studied in Britain as students and are very loyal to the city. They want places they visit often."
Jumeirah's latest project -- Grosvenor House Apartments -- is typical of the new breed of hotels. It's not the most romantic place -- the decor is dark, somber and masculine. There are padded walls and thick carpets in the halls to hush out the sounds of London's traffic roaring past outside, and security guards on each floor.
The apartments off London's prestigious Park Lane, which open April 2, are built for those seeking quiet and high security and don't care how much it costs. The smallest apartment costs 1,500 pounds ($2,400) a night, with a minimum stay of a week. The building is not open to the public -- anyone who wants to visit a guest will have to first find it, the signage is so discreet it's almost invisible -- and then sign in and wait for their hosts to let them in. The more expensive suites have butlers to fetch newspapers, organize dinners, call taxis -- anything involving contact with the outside world. The penthouse suite comes with the free use of an Aston Martin.
Not all of London's hotel industry is relying on the Olympics -- some of the most anticipated luxury hotels will open after the games end.
The Shangri-La hotel in The Shard, Europe's tallest building, is expected to open sometime next year and The Wellesley Townhouse, which promises to be London's first "six star" ultra-luxurious hotel with its own cigar bar, opens in November.
One hotel is bucking the "rooms still free" trend. The Goring Hotel -- the family-run luxury hotel where Kate Middleton stayed the night before her wedding last year to Prince William -- is quintessentially English, with summer lawns and Edwardian rooms full of chintz and china tea cups. Millions watched on television as Middleton stepped out of its foyer and gave the public its first glimpse of her top-secret wedding gown.
Little wonder that, for the Olympics, the Goring is fully booked.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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