The 100 best hotels in London: top ten
Despite the fabulous new openings we’ve seen in the capital over the last couple of years, this hotel still offers what none of the others can: the most extraordinary London vistas. Even its foyer is sky-high, perched on floor 34, with a restaurant and the kind of luxe, cosmopolitan, neutral looks you’d expect. Rooms extend up to floor 52, which houses Western Europe’s highest swimming pool, a fitness room and a bar. In between, guest rooms have wraparound, floor-to-ceiling windows (even in the bathrooms) and are furnished in glamorous Asian-international-contemporary style with luxury materials – think marble and silk. Acknowledging it’s all about the views, every room comes equipped with binoculars.
Best for views of London
What started out as a small hotel run by William and Marianne Claridge in the mid-1800s, soon blossomed into the five-star Claridge's mansion we know today. It's reputation was helped somewhat by visits from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and royalty was inevitably followed by Hollywood stars during the ’50s. All of the hotel's glamour remains today, with art deco chic throughout. There's a dazzling chandelier deisgned by Dale Chihuly in the foyer and Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Fera restaurant (now run by his protégé Matt Starling) impresses with classy European fare.
Best for old-school glamour
Perhaps all you need to know about The Ned is that Soho House and £200 million are involved in a sensitive refurb, retaining wood panelling, of an original Sir Edwin Lutyens building. There are gorgeous furnishings, four-poster beds, eight restaurants, 15 bars, a spa, two pools and a boxing gym. Certain parts, including the rooftop bar, are only open to Soho House members, so it’s worth checking to avoid disappointment but even the ground floor bar, open to everyone, is a joy to behold.
Best for grand style and top facilities
The hotel of choice for many visiting celebs headed for the BBC’s Broadcasting House just opposite, The Langham is the kind of understated, charming place that endures because of its timeless appeal, first-class service and winning spaces, from the art deco Palm Court, where afternoon tea is served, to the cocktail bar and Chinese-influenced spa. Foodies will be thrilled that Roux at The Landau reopened in spring 2018. Rooms are distinctly English.
Best for A-list celeb-spotting
Inspired by the plant it’s named after and converted from a RIBA-winning building in Fitzrovia, this OTT hotel was an instant hit with the fashion crowd when it opened in 2017. And no wonder: its dark, intimate and opulent styling offers sumptuous and quirky elements wherever your eye lands. The 30 bedrooms, set over four floors around a beautiful hidden courtyard, are little works of art in their own right. Gorgeous, different and a stunning addition to the London hotel scene.
Best for Instagram likes
Hate checking in? You’ll love The Pilgrm. With this affordable (by London standards) 73-room hotel, Jason Catifeoglou – formerly of the Zetter group – has done away with reception, minibars and phones to create a hotel that has a personal feel and features superfast wi-fi, Marshall speakers, 24-hour pantries and natural toiletries. (Plastics begone, we’re using soap on a rope!) He has sensitively retained and restored original Victorian fixtures and fittings while adding interesting reclaimed ones to create a unique space that’s a real winner. Head chef Sara Lewis (formerly of Grain Store) works wonders in the Lounge.
Best for innovation
Older Londoners will have fond memories of Kettner’s restaurant, opened in 1867 by August Kettner, chef to Napoleon III, which has been incorporated into this gorgeous new townhouse hotel from the Soho House group. The massive restoration project involved 15 Georgian townhouses (including 11 listed buildings), plus Soho House Greek Street. The result? Thirty-three lavish rooms, from ‘cosy’ to suites, with both original features and twenty-first-century nods to art deco design.
Best for a trip down memory lane
Vegans and health buffs rejoice: this sleek Japanese-inspired hotel in Bayswater has been designed with your lifestyle choices in mind. Yin and yang interiors paired with Japanese minimalist furnishings, Zen vibes, and on-site Vegan restaurant Raw will all help you stay healthy while staying in the capital.
Best for park life
In keeping with its Park Lane location, The Dorchester is the bee’s knees, from its opulently classical interior and grand lobby to its first-class restaurants (including three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, headed by Jean-Philippe Blondet) which employ some 90 chefs. A cutting-edge attitude encompasses impressive service, state-of-the-art mod cons and a magnificent spa complete with glittering tearoom The Spatisserie.
Best for dining
There's no denying that the biggest draw for Nobu Hotel is the restaurant. Who could resist their renowned Japan-meets-South America cuisine? But if you're spending the night (or a few), you'll be pleased to know that Nobu's contemporary vibes run trhoughout. Expect floor-to-ceiling windows, sizeable walk-in showers and a spectacular cocktail bar.
Best for hipster epicureanism
The 100 best hotels in London: 11-20
The best thing about this boutique hotel tucked away down a Shoreditch allewway is the importance they put on design. Then that's hardly surprising considering it's owned by Sir Terence Conran. Each of the 17 rooms has a different style to it and the corner ones all pay tribute to pioneering designers. Think Charles and Ray Eames, Eileen Grey and Mies van der Rohe.
Best for tastefully crackpot inventions
Overnighters won’t want to miss the in-house Red Rooster restaurant (quality, Obama-approved, Southern-fried everything) before nipping down to the basement club (Skepta’s been) or taking in the cool Manhattan-style surroundings where warehouse meets hip meets luxury. There are also quality furnishings, gorgeous bathrooms (with rain showers), fully stocked minibars and a rooftop mini lido.
Best for hipness in spades
Design director Kit Kemp has teamed her trademark bold colours with antique and distressed furniture to create this grandly proportioned Firmdale complex of hotel, apartments and shops around a courtyard that’s great for warm days – as is the secret rooftop garden. On cold ones, the basement bowling alley is a nice alternative to the brash attractions of Piccadilly Circus.
Best for bowling
A boutique time-warp in the depths of Clerkenwell, full of four-poster beds, antiques and one very proud house cat. The charming Rookery is conveniently located amongst all the finest restaurants and bars, but if you don't feel like stepping out there's an 'honesty bar' in the drawing room.
Best for tradition
This is the first London outpost of Paris-based Experimental Group, a collective of friends with a shared love of fine food, wine, cocktails and design. The hotel has 18 bedrooms and suites designed by Dorothée Meilichzon. Picture leopard-print wallpaper, marble skirting boards and zingy geometric floor coverings. All of them have the appropriate wow factor. The 80-seat restaurant is a modern British bistro and bar with a menu by Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous.
Best for seriously OTT decor
Does the most famous hotel in the world need an introduction? Probably not, but to step into The Ritz is still a semi-magical experience, transporting you back to a time when Britain ruled the world and someone had just invented the train. An update in 1995 injected some modernity into the 1906-does-Louis XVI design, but there’s a wonderful sense of old-school decorum here, appropriate given the sheer quantities of marble and 24-carat gold leaf on site. Be warned: no jeans, no trainers, and jackets for dining, please – apart from at breakfast.
Best for Liberace chic
This sister venue to the The Hoxton in Shoreditch has brought all the style of the East End to central London. Situated a stone's throw from the British Museum, the Holborn branch offers classy midcentury modern decor throughout, iMacs for guests and a lovely cafe/bar.
Best for tomb raiding
Shoreditch House’s stayover option perfectly captures the atmosphere of its neighbourhood, with its fun and slightly retro design. There’s a holiday vibe throughout, with rooms – decked out in pastel-painted tongue-and-groove cladding – that feel fresh and a bit like beach huts, and an excellent rooftop pool in the members’ club next door. If you crave more space, High Road House in Chiswick, also owned by Soho House, has 14 bedrooms from £130 per night (20 percent cheaper for members).
Best for pretending you’re a hipster
This South Bank hotel has been a smash for two reasons: firstly, the fabulous interiors, courtesy of Tom Dixon of Habitat fame; think bold colours and design touches that nod to the building’s nautical heritage, such as the Cutty Sark-like copper hull in reception. Then there’s the location: bang on the river and great for the Tate Modern and Southbank Centre. Icing on the cake? The 56-seat Curzon-run cinema and the Austin Powersy-sounding rooftop club, Rumpus Room.
Best for yo ho hoing
You’d never guess that central London’s most striking-looking hotel was Selfridges’ former garage until a few years ago. After humble beginnings, The Beaumont is now, quite literally, a work of art, with Antony Gormley’s part-suite, part-sculpture, ROOM, adorning its front. Elsewhere decor is pure art deco fantasia and service manages to find the right line between efficient and obsequious; friendly and pseudo-matey. It’s a convenient spot for Selfridges and The American Bar is perfect for a post-spree old fashioned.
Best for art deco styling
The 100 best hotels in London: 21-30
The city’s first railway hotel, opened in 1854, has been reborn as a 91-room classic, thanks to a fabulous refit. Railway fans will love the couchette rooms with beds snugly fitted into the window to evoke sleeper carriages. Each floor has a pantry filled with jars of vintage sweets, fresh cakes, tea and coffee, newspapers, books and even a USB-friendly printer.
Best for sleeper chic
Historical figures echo in the halls of old-school Brown’s, among them Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, Emperor Haile Selassie and Agatha Christie, whose ‘At Bertram’s Hotel’ was inspired by the place. But the comfortable and elegant Mayfair hotel – London’s first, and built across 11 townhouses – is perfectly at home in the twenty-first century with all mod cons, among them a spa, walk-in showers and free airport transfers, plus arresting original art by the likes of Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley.
Best for immersing yourself in history
This latest addition to the growing CitizenM chain (there are Bankside and Shoreditch branches too) is affordable, chic and dependable, from its self-check-in to the youthful contemporary styling of its slick café-bar and reception area. Rooms are small but well designed, with wall-to-wall windows, drench showers, and free wi-fi and movies. Funky-coloured lighting, air con and blackout blinds are controlled with an in-room tablet.
Best for technology
Derelict for years, this fabulous Victorian building by George Gilbert Scott was restored to its former glory, with new additions, and opened in 2011. Pamper yourself in the spa and then indulge in a British-inspired meal at the Gilbert Scott. Expect aged Scottish beef, Cornish hake and Yorkshire grouse (in season), preceded perhaps by an 1873 gin cocktail, named after the year the hotel was built. The St Pancras Renaissance is also the best choice for anyone travelling by Eurostar: the hotel has security clearance and a side door takes you straight to the platform.
Best for trainspotting
Slap bang in the heart of the theatre district, this lovely five-starrer oozes charm. You can see it in the floral prints, in the warming colour palate and the classic panelled library. In the lobby you'll find Brasserie Max, decked out like a 1920s Parisian bistro, with a British and European menu.
Best for feeling like a film star
A 1930s art deco block in Wood Green might not initially have much to recommend it but this is the UK’s first arts-led social enterprise hotel. The Scandi-basic accommodation offers dorm beds at £24 per night with doubles at £89, unless you're an artist, in which case you qualify for a discount (contact them directly to book). The brains behind the hotel are Nick Hartwright (Mill Co Project), with Kurt Bredenbeck (Hoxton Hotel) advising on hospitality and chefs mentored by Johnny Smith (Michelin-starred The Clove Club). As well as the ideals and the food, there are exhibitions, yoga and DJ nights. And it’s only 15 minutes from central London by tube.
Best for arty accommodation
The breathtaking Lobby Bar and Michelin-starred Eneko restaurant set up this modern conversion (of the 1907 offices of The Morning Post) beautifully. The rest of the hotel doesn’t disappoint either, from Frette linen and bathroom mini TVs to an environmentally friendly loo-flushing system. A cosy screening room, excellent spa and swimming pool with underwater sound system playing soothing music may dissuade you from ever stepping outside.
Best for fashion and theatre
A stylish hotel perched on the corner of Chinatown and Leicester Square, the W is a palace for affluent international travellers, rock stars and party people. Firstly, there's a nightclub on the first floor. Secondly, they provide vinyl room service, which isn't as kinky as it sounds. They have playlists curated by DJs Annie Mac and Lauren Laverne that you can select from and order direct to your room. There's also a private 3D cinema screen.
Best for West End hipness
A hotel with a difference, and not just because it resembles a huge shipping container floating on the river. The message ‘Create beauty, do good’ is emblazoned on the wall inside and the interior is all cool, industrial design. The ‘good’ bit is covered off by the training of local long-term unemployed, with the hotel’s profits going back into the project. Cosy cabins, with portholes looking out over the Thames, start at £80 a night. Hang out in the Living Room, a bar and restaurant serving Spanish-based tapas and small plates, or head up to the roof for great views of London.
Best for sleep with a good conscience
Budget hotels got a whole lot cooler when Z arrived. The Marylebone branch, in some converted Georgian townhouses, retains much of the original wood panelling and has made the most of its high ceilings. Rooms are contemporary and industrial in style, and the size of them – some minuscule – is reflected in pared-back pricing (which happily includes wi-fi, organic breakfast and the 5pm-8pm cheese and wine buffet). Z can also be found in Shoreditch, the City, Soho, Piccadilly, Victoria, Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road.
Best for central cool
The 100 best hotels in London: 31-40
The hotel loved for its mix of Edwardian neoclassical and art deco design acquired a host of grand new features in its oh-so-twenty-first-century £100 million refurb, including an atrium pool with a jet stream. But we love it for its star-filled history – where else can you stand on the spot where Monet painted the Thames, or where Vivien Leigh met Laurence Olivier? Then there’s Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill and the fabulous American Bar.
Best for A-list glamour
The London Edition makes a big impact as you walk into its grand hall of a lobby, complete with double-height rococo ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and marble pillars. Bedrooms are similarly impactful: akin to lodges or dachas, with matte oak floors, wood-panelled walls and faux-fur throws tossed on luxurious beds. Larger rooms come with sofas, some have furnished terraces, all have rainforest showers and Le Labo toiletries (with the hotel’s woody signature scent).
Best for partying and dining with the in-crowd
The staff wear Converse, the fittings are Starck and the suites are former BBC recording studios in this deluxe west London hotel. Rooms are designery but in a cool, understated way. They’re spacious too (the smallest is 23 square metres) and boast in-room tablets, handy smartphones and granite bathrooms with White Company toiletries. Don’t miss the spa – particularly the Snow Paradise cabin chilled to -15C and designed to complement the hot-cold therapy.
Best for cool
The latest baby in the now six-strong Montcalm family has all its siblings’ fizz-pop-bang features and then some. Russell Sage’s design is to the fore with statement copper-pipe lighting and silk-lined corridors, but it’s the little touches that make it exceptional: in-room Nespresso machines, Elemis and Hermès toiletries, a complimentary smartphone service with unlimited internet data and selected free local and international calls all add real value.
Best for design twists
Incongruously set in a Grade II-listed former town hall in the otherwise grungy heart of Bethnal Green, this upscale aparthotel is a masterclass in refitting a classic space, retaining many beautiful original features but jazzing up the whole thing with contemporary art in pale-toned, spacious and well-appointed rooms and apartments. The excellent Typing Room and Corner Room restaurants plus a basement swimming pool with sparkly tiles all add to the appeal.
Best for local government
No hotel in London is more English than the family-owned Goring; it’s where the Middleton family stayed before the royal wedding. Expect lots of chintz, mahogany and silk, together with genteel luxury: polite tent cards ask you not to use your smartphone or conduct business during afternoon tea. For a true ‘Downton Abbey’ experience, book a suite and the services of a footman are yours. Hide all twenty-first-century encumbrances in the safe and go back in time for a few days.
Best for traditional English luxury
Eschew modern styling and views for these four Georgian townhouses, named after eighteenth-century essayist William Hazlitt, and you won’t regret it. The flamboyance and exquisite attention to detail are spot-on, while the addition of modern luxuries like TVs (discreetly hidden away in antique cupboards, of course) makes for an elegant whole in the heart of Soho.
Best for aged atmos
The noisy exuberance of Soho is left firmly outside in this Firmdale hotel group favourite: tucked away in a mews, the place is wonderfully quiet, with what was once a car park now feeling like a converted loft building. Its big contemporary bedrooms are peaceful too, with nicely judged touches lifting the decor beyond bland.
Best for being at the heart of the action
As iconic as when Anouska Hempel opened it 40 years ago, Blakes and its maximalist decor have stood the test of time, a living casebook for interior design students. Inside the singular black-painted row of townhouses, each room is furnished in a different style, with influences from Italy, India, Turkey and China. Exotic antiques picked up by Hempel on her travels – intricately carved beds, Chinese birdcages, ancient trunks – are set off by sweeping drapery and piles of plump cushions. But Blakes doesn’t rest on its laurels: 2016 saw the arrival of a new restaurant inspired by an old-fashioned steamer and the opening of the darkly sumptuous Blakes Below bar.
Best for flamboyance
No designer flash in the pan, the Sanderson remains a statement hotel, a Schrager-Starck creation that takes clinical bedroom chic to new heights. Colour is generally conspicuous by its absence: the design throughout is all flowing white net drapes, gleaming glass cabinets and retractable screens. The Purple Bar (residents-only from midnight to 3am) sports a button-backed purple leather ceiling and fabulous cocktails.
Best for minimalism (with a bit of Prince chucked in)
The 100 best hotels in London: 41-50
Set in a 13-storey building formerly called The Matrix, this new hotel next to Aldgate tube station has two restaurants, a bar and 1,600 square feet of meeting space. The hotel features 267 guest rooms and suites, a rooftop bar, and a fitness centre. The hotel brings two popular restaurant concepts from west to east London for the first time, with the opening of Shikumen and VQ (Vingt-Quatre).
Best for a touch of west London in east London
This award-winning hotel in Notting Hill looks like the home of your dreams: there’s gloriously retro and modern decor here and there, classic Penguin paperbacks for bedtime reading and even bathroom products from Neal’s Yard Remedies. The Laslett has succeeded in doing such a fine job of celebrating the best bits of London art and design, you won’t want to leave. Split across five interconnected townhouses, the hotel offers 24-hour room service, complimentary gym passes and in-room spa treatments.
Best for a bedtime story
This addition to the five-star Courthouse family brings the elegant Old Street Magistrates Court bang up to date with modern must-haves like a rooftop bar, spa, pool, 196-seat cinema and bowling alley. But its USP lies in the space and its history; to imagine former ‘guests’ like Joe Orton and the Krays in one of the the original courtrooms (now the main casual fine-dining restaurant and an ultra-exclusive members’ bar), or indeed in one of the five cells pressed into service as bar booths, really is special.
Best for aberrant behaviour
Close to the Tower of London, this is one of the newest low-budget high-design hotels to hit London. Stylish rooms with rainfall showers start from £110 a night, including organic breakfast. Work or relax over cocktails in the modern café-bar, with Chesterfield-style sofas and a fire.
Best for budget designerisms
Ace arrived in Shoreditch from the US some years back, turning a tatty Crowne Plaza into 250+ spacious bohemian rooms with an emphasis on original and artisanal touches. It continues to impress with a vibe that’s informal, young and fun, with DJs every night, a rooftop bar, a cute juice bar, a coffee shop and even a flower shop founded by hip florist Hattie Fox.
Best for flower power
London’s hotel scene is stuffed with some top-notch quintessential Englishness, but few places can lay claim to being the watering hole of James Bond creator Ian Fleming and (some say) the home of the world’s best martini. Beyond Dukes’s bar, chic understated rooms feature regal purple and gold accents and manly (but lovely) marble bathrooms. The Cigar and Cognac Garden is the place to head for a post-dinner puff (though only of cigars purchased from the hotel).
Best for a martini followed by a fine cigar
There’s a refreshing lack of attitude at this Clerkenwell joint, where staff are friendly and the eco-credentials impressive – free Brompton bikes for guests’ use, for example. Rooms feature walk-in showers with Ren smellies. The downstairs restaurant, Bistrot Bruno Loubet, is a more experimental version of Loubet’s excellent but now sadly closed King’s Cross restaurant Grain Store. The 24 rooms at the Marylebone Zetter, overseen by the fictional Wicked Uncle Seymour, are equally impressive.
Best for cycling
Famous for its low rates, the Hoxton also deserves credit for well-thought-out rooms. Sure, they’re on the small side and weekend rates can be high, but hey, you’re in the heart of Shoreditch, at one of the hippest hotels in the city, in one of the hippest cities in the world. And if you come on a Sunday you can enjoy all that hipness from £130 a night, including breakfast. Hip hip hooray!
Best for affordable Shoreditch
The Corinthia’s conversion from government offices to grand hotel takes in an expansive lobby complete with central dome, dark wood and silk-covered walls in the high-spec rooms and luxurious bathrooms with pool-like oval baths, all done with a light, modern touch that avoids self-importance or stuffiness. The Espa spa and subterranean pools (with jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and hot seats) form a complex over two floors.
Best for a stroll to Downing Street
Opened in an eighteenth-century hospital building as a club for creative types, Covent Garden’s Hospital Club has 15 rooms across a range of categories, including the windowless but well-designed Sleeper. All feature Ren toiletries, contemporary artworks, upscale retro tech and high-fashion sex toys.
Best for fostering creativity
The 100 best hotels in London: 51-60
Soho House’s central London spot is a Grade II-listed, 1730s townhouse-turned-chic-hotel. Bedrooms, over four floors, run from full-size with early Georgian panelling and reclaimed oak floors to a sweet split level ‘Broom Cupboard’ room, which can be had off the website from £235 per night (members get an additional 20 percent discount). Whatever the size, all come with Apple TV and Bose iPod docks, as well as bathrooms with rainforest showers and Cowshed products. The atmosphere is that of a gentleman’s club: both low-key and luxurious.
Best for members’ club vibes
Kit Kemp’s Firmdale hotels are generally unaffordable to mere mortals, but this South Kensington gaff keeps prices lower and quality high, with bright, generously sized bedrooms that carry the Kemp trademark mix of bold and traditional. Best of all, there’s a large, tree-filled garden, with breakfast is served in a pretty conservatory.
Best for affordable luxe
André Balazs, the man behind the celeb-friendly Chateau Marmont in LA and New York’s Mercer, has a gift for creating exclusive hotels with incredible buzz, and did exactly that with this former fire station, whose lovely red-brick exterior is matched inside by sumptuous colours and design that marries restrained and imaginative beautifully. If you plan to stay in one of the 26 refined suites and want to eat in, book well in advance for Nuno Mendes’s celebrated restaurant.
Best for food
A terrific addition to Kit Kemp’s Firmdale portfolio, this block-sized building was designed by John Nash, the architect of Regency London. Wow factors include the bling basement swimming pool and bar (shiny sofas, twinkly ceiling) and the central London location. Rooms are generously sized (as are the bathrooms), individually decorated and discreetly equipped with facilities, and there’s plenty of attention from the switched-on staff. The street-side bar and restaurant are top-notch and the breakfast is exquisite.
Best for hanging by the pool
St Martins Lane led the way in flamboyant, theatrical hotel design when it opened in the ’90s, courtesy of Philippe Starck’s playful decor. Clever renovation has managed to update the wow factor for the twenty-first century with mood-interactive light displays and smart TVs, while retaining the stunning floor-to-ceiling windows. Some rooms have private balconies, all offer access to a neighbouring gym, bike loans, and a laundry service for workout wear.
Best for fragrant exercise sessions
Now a fine exponent of Kit Kemp’s much-imitated fusion of flowery English and avant garde, this gorgeous hotel was once a dental hospital. Public rooms have colourful murals and Bloomsbury Set paintings by the likes of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, while bedrooms mix English understatement with bold flourishes and feature trademark polished granite and oak bathrooms. The Oscar restaurant and bar are classy and busy with a smart crowd of media and advertising folk.
Best for art fans
London’s first ME by Meliá is a deluxe beauty by Foster + Partners, modelled on the lines of the 1920s Marconi House next door but with resolutely modern styling – like the breathtaking nine-storey pyramid atrium and rooms featuring triangular windows with views on to Aldwych. The tenth-floor roof-terrace bar offers exceptional vistas. The Meliá White House near Regent’s Park has all the modern touches and style, but much cheaper rooms (581 of them, from around £160 on a Sunday for a double) in a great 1930s apartment block.
Best for rooftop drinking
The decor behind the facades of these five Georgian houses is a mix of restrained country-house florals and intellectual sophistication that’s just right for Bloomsbury’s studious yet decadent history. The library and conservatory open on to a fragrant walled garden, where breakfast is served in summer.
Best for an alfresco start to your day
The rows of leafy trees standing sentinel outside soften the otherwise beautiful but imposing red-brick exterior of this classic Marylebone grand hotel, a worthy architectural peer to the likes of the Renaissance and Andaz Liverpool Street. It’s traditional through and through, with marble, gilt and glitz aplenty, and if the decor in the rooms is a little on the safe side, they’re as plush and comfortable as they come.
Best for Solid, understated excellence
Shoreditch gets all the hip plaudits, but Malmaison, on a lovely cobbled square on the edge of the Square Mile, is just as well-placed for an East End night out without the weekend crowds – though you might find some of the cannier ones enjoying the pleasingly understated design and lovely basement brasserie.
Best for old-world elegance
The 100 best hotels in London: 61-70
Warm, friendly service coupled with bohemian chic and arresting objets d’époque make this delightfully unpretentious B&B in the heart of Marylebone a real treat. Amenities include good coffee, free rein with hot beverages in an upstairs lounge full of knick-knacks, and hearty breakfasts in a gorgeous pine-floored dining room-kitchen.
Best for French farmhouse charm
In keeping with its City location, South Place is a nice balance of formality for its expense-accounters and fun for their guests. Interior decor impresses with conversation-piece art, touch controls in the rooms, and a Bond-themed pool room and library complete with vinyl and turntable. There’s a pretty interior courtyard garden bar too. Foodies will appreciate the Michelin-starred experience at the Angler restaurant on the sixth floor.
Best for sustainable seafood
Kitsch and fun, this well-located hotel has gimmicks aplenty – loft suites named after the heroines of psychedelic rock classics (Lucy, Lily, Jude, Ruby and Eleanor), private terraces, hammocks and even a suite with an eight-person outdoor hot-tub – but the real draw is its well-designed rooms for competitive prices. The bar’s lounge area is a good spot to relax, and travellers with pooches will love its dog-friendly touches, including beds, bowls and treats.
Best for canine-friendly psychedelia
With its abundance of exposed brickwork, cool bar and buzzing small-plates restaurant, Artist Residence is a little slice of Shoreditch in the sleepy-but-convenient environs of Pimlico. Part of a boutique chain (there are others in Brighton, Penzance and South Leigh in Oxfordshire), with only ten rooms, it offers good value as well as great fun. And it’s well positioned for central sights – the river, Westminster Abbey, Tate Britain – as well as Victoria station, which is a five-minute walk away.
Best for blitzing Zone 1 attractions
There aren’t too many first-class hotels around Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which is a shame as it’s just far enough away from Covent Garden to be a haven from the teeming masses – and the quiet courtyard outside this restored Edwardian mansion helps. Inside, contemporary design is mixed with original art-nouveau features in rooms with marble bathrooms, Nespresso coffee machine and Czech & Speake toiletries. The spa’s gorgeous too, but our favourite thing? The 200 single-malt whiskies on offer in the bar.
Best for whisky
Indian hotelier Lalit’s first London outpost is a stunner. There’s its setting for a start, in the grammar school where novelist Lawrence Durrell was a pupil, and the cost of the refurb (£50 million) for 70 rooms filled with high-end furnishings and fabrics like mother-of-pearl and silk. But what we’re most excited about is the Indian theme – from traditional English afternoon tea with a twist to Subcontinental dishes in the former school’s great hall and a basement spa offering Indian therapies.
Best for Indian summers
If you’ve no head for heights but want to be near Borough Market, this is a great alternative to the Shangri-La. The bronzed-metal façade with its colourful murals is a clue to the modernity on offer in this affordable, central hotel that features a pool, gym, bar and good-value dining room, as well as contemporary rooms with free wi-fi.
Best for Borough Market grazing
A grand location in St James’s is the perfect setting for this oh-so-traditional grand hotel, set in a former banking hall. The feeling throughout is one of timeless elegance: muted tones, mahogany furniture and heavy fabrics keep everything quiet and calm, while Nespresso machines and Roberts iPod docks bring a touch of modernity. Don’t miss the Balcon brasserie with its twin spiral staircases.
Best for a weekend in the West End
Behind a Victorian stucco frontage, the Ampersand zings with splashes of bold colour against its dove grey and duck-egg blue decor. The hues extend to the lounge, where afternoon tea is served at comfy colourful sofas and armchairs in scarlet velvet. Botanical drawings reference the nearby South Kensington museums.
Best for colour
This Premier Inn’s position right by the London Eye, the Thames, Westminster Bridge and Waterloo station is a gift for out-of-towners on a bargain weekend break. Check-in is quick and easy, rooms are spacious, clean and warm, with free wi-fi and decent bathrooms featuring very good showers, and extra points are garnered for its friendly and efficient staff. Breakfast, a buffet-style affair in a comfortable dining room, is extra but provides ballast for the day.
Best for the South Bank on the cheap
The 100 best hotels in London: 71-80
The Trafalgar is part of the Hilton chain of hotels, but the mood is young and dynamic, and it’s housed in the imposing edifice that was once the headquarters of the venerable Cunard Steamship Company. To the right of the open reception is the boisterous Rockwell Bar; breakfast downstairs is accompanied by gentler music. Its none-more-central location, however, is the hotel’s biggest draw.
Best for hitting the central sights
How do you make a lounge full of black and white contemporary furnishings seem cosy and welcoming? Hard to achieve, but the owners have succeeded at B+B Belgravia, which takes the B&B experience to a new level with a style that’s fresh and sophisticated without being hard-edged or too precious. A gleaming espresso machine provides 24/7 caffeine, and there’s a large (if somewhat gloomy) garden to sit in out the back.
Best for a caffeine fix