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