If you want to stay somewhere with character and individuality, give the chains a wide berth and head instead to one of London’s gorgeous boutique hotels. There are plenty of brilliant smaller hotels in London to suit everyone’s taste, from cosy hipster hangouts to extravagant, super-central lodgings that give London’s five-star institutions a run for their money. With artfully designed rooms, well-considered service and quirky extra touches, London’s best boutique hotels are all about being a little less fusty and a lot more on-trend.
Looking for more options? Check out London’s best Airbnbs.
London’s best boutique hotels
Inspired by the plant it’s named after and remodelled from a RIBA-winning building in Fitzrovia, this luxury boutique 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 each little works of art in their own right. Gorgeous, different and a stunning addition to the London hotel scene.
Best for Instagram likes.
Older Londoners will have fond memories of Kettner’s restaurant, opened in 1867 by Auguste 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 opulent 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.
The 12 bedrooms and five split-level suites here at Terence Conran’s hotel are individually designed with handmade beds, furniture from Eames, Mies Van de Rohe and Le Corbusier, to name a few, and some original artwork. Ground-floor deli-cum-café, Albion, is overrated but the rooftop bar is one of the East End’s finest spots on a sunny evening. And round the corner is Redchurch Street which, with its plethora of almost-edgy international boutiques, oozes trendy money.
Best for post-shopping sun-worshipping.
Tired of soulless luxury? Try this creaky Georgian townhouse smothered in period charm: open fires, four-poster beds, clawfoot tubs and brass shower fittings. It’s ye olde meets ye bouji, with a location in monied but-still-artsy Clerkenwell. There’s no restaurant, but Hix or St John around the corner are two of the city’s most reliably great eateries. Word to the romantic (and deep of pocket): the split-level Rook’s Nest suite, which has views of St Paul’s Cathedral, is perfect for popping the question.
Best for period charm in a cool (but not too cool) location.
The first London outpost from the Paris-based Experimental Group, a collective of friends with a love of fine food, wine, cocktails and design. The hotel has 18 bedrooms and suites designed by Dorothée Meilichzon, all of them sporting the appropriate wow-factor – leopard-print wallpaper, marble skirting boards and zingy geometric floorcoverings. The 80-seat restaurant is a modern British bistro and bar with a menu by chef Ollie Dabbous.
Best for some frankly OTT decor.
The first trendy destination hotel to open in east London, the Hoxton has won legions of fans for its formula of great-value rooms in prime locations. Rooms tend to be on the small side but are cleverly designed, and you get free wi-fi, a cold morning snack and fresh milk in your fridge – all at prices, if you book in advance and stay at the weekend, that won’t break the bank.
Best for chic value without unnecessary extras.
London’s first railway hotel, dating back to 1854, got a £40m refit and now stands proudly between the Eurostar’s St Pancras terminal and King’s Cross, a lone beauty of a building. There are five floors of rooms, including mini ones modelled on sleeper carriages, as well as pantries with tea, coffee and cakes on every floor (there’s no room service). Downstairs you’ll find two bars and a restaurant, but really the draw is the proximity to the platforms – a bed-to-train dash can be achieved in under three minutes.
Best for a prequel to Eurostar’s first class.
There’s a lot to recommend here. First there’s the hotel’s location on Monmouth Street, the most attractive street in Covent Garden. Then there’s the decor: each of the 58 rooms displays designer Kit Kemp’s panache for comfort married with talking point interiors: pinstripe wallpaper with floral upholstery, oak and granite bathrooms. There’s a cinema, too, and a peaceful private library and drawing room. And that’s just inside. Bag a table out front and witness the masses strut by, saddled with shopping bags.
Best for a nap after a trip to the Royal Opera House.
The UK branch of the American indie chain continues to buzz. It’s slap-bang in the middle of the action on Shoreditch High Street, with a nattily designed restaurant, Hoi Polloi, on the ground floor and a club in the basement which has pulled off the rarest of tricks: being a hotel club that’s actually cool rather than full of suits and stuck-up foreign poshos. Rooms are full of urban artisan touches, decently proportioned, and, given the proximity to the City, reasonably priced.
Best for keeping it real (on your business trip).
The first thing you’ll hear about the Portobello Hotel is that Johnny Depp and Kate Moss once filled one of its bathtubs with champagne. Which obviously sounds like a hoot, but there’s plenty to recommend the classy-quirky Victorian conversion besides that. Just a quick dash from Portobello Road market, the vibe here is cosy and homely, well equipped rather than designy, so you can expect flatscreen TVs and wi-fi along with a sumptuous lounge, the odd four-poster bed and, of course, those lovely Victorian freestanding bathtubs.
Best for old-school celeb antics.
Find more London hotel inspiration
In coming up with this list of the 100 best hotels in London, we considered a heady mix of factors – from definables like design, location, service, amenities, architecture, and value for money, to less tangible elements like ambience, history and the character of the reception cat. Then we factored in what we think Time Out readers would want from a hotel. So, a definitive list of the best hotels in London with something for everyone? We think so.