Can't hack chain hotel monotany? There's plently of brilliant boutique hotels in London to suit everyone's taste. From cosy, couple-run hipster hangouts to extravagant, super-central lodgings that give London’s oldest five-star hotels a run for their money, staying somewhere independent is an experience in itself. With artfully designed rooms, well-considered room service and the front desk’s restaurant recommendations, London's best boutique hotels are all about being a little less fusty and a lot more on trend.
London's best boutique hotels
With its abundance of exposed brickwork, parquet floors, a cool bar and buzzing sharing-plate restaurant, Artist Residence is a little slice of Shoreditch in the sleepy-but-convenient environs of Pimlico. It’s the third in a ‘boutique chain’ (the others are in Brighton and Penzance), and offers great value (doubles from £160 a night) and equally great fun. In an area that isn’t awash with original hotels, this one offers something new and different in a location that’s great for central sights – the river, Westminster Abbey, Tate Britain – as well as Victoria Station.
Best for: hipsters with an aversion to Shoreditch
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 display designer Kit Kemp’s panache for comfort married with talking point interiors – think pinstripe wallpaper with floral upholstery, and 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 Covent Garden masses strut by, saddled with shopping bags.
Best for: a nap after a trip to the Royal Opera House
London’s first Railway hotel, dating back to 1854, had a £40m refit two years ago and now stands proud between the Eurostar’s St Pancras terminal and King’s Cross, a lone beauty of a building. There are five floors of rooms (from £229 per night), 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: those travelling (first class) on Eurostar
Tired of soulless luxury? Try this creaky Georgian townhouse in Clerkenwell cloaked in period charm. Think open fires, four-poster beds, clawfoot tubs and brass shower fittings. It’s ye olde meets luxe, 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. Single rooms start at £149 per night.
Best for: period charm in a cool, but not too cool, location
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 (from £99 per night). A branch in Holborn followed; Amsterdam opened last year, Paris and NYC in 2017. Southwark will follow in 2018.
Best for: cool kids who aren’t into unnecessary extras
If you’ve come to town to party and shop, this Shoreditch branch of the Dutch chain Citizen M is hard to beat, as it’s stumbling distance from the boutiques on Redchurch Street and Shoreditch’s busiest restaurants, bars and clubs. Non-fussy, ‘affordable luxury’ is what it’s all about here, which translates to snappy decor (Vitra furniture in the lobby, mismatched everything), and a fair amount of free stuff too: films, Wi-Fi and everything in your fridge. Breakfast is extra, but food and drink (there’s a cocktail bar) are available round the clock. Other locations include Bankside and the Tower of London. Doubles from £159 per night.
Best for: being in the heart of hipsterville
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 foreign aristocracy. Rooms are full of urban artisan touches, decently proportioned, and, given the proximity to the City, reasonable (from £155 per night).
Best for: DJs, businessmen keeping it real
With its plethora of almost-edgy international boutiques, Redchurch Street oozes trendy money – it’s not Mayfair, but it’s certainly not grotty east London either. The 12 bedrooms (from £250) 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 but 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.
Best for: A spot of post-shopping sun worshipping
The first thing you’ll hear about the Portobello Hotel is that Johnny Depp and Kate Moss once filled one of the 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 design-ey, 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. Doubles from £156 per night.
Best for: old-school celeb antics
Owned by Soho House, Townhouse feels very meeja, dahling, though if it’s celebs you’re after, try the Soho Hotel around the corner, which is adept at bringing Hollywood to London, particularly during awards season. Regardless, inside is good for a meeting, and also provides respite from the chaos outside – or if that’s what you’re here for, the terrace out front is great for a coffee and a slice of people-watching. Rooms – albeit small ones – can be bagged for as little as £115.
Best for: ogling Soho-ites
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.
The Marlin group, who have serviced apartments hotels all over the city – including Stratford, Canary Wharf and London Bridge – have set up in busy Waterloo. Their neat, stylish rooms come with kitchenettes and lounge areas, so you can have a few home comforts while on your trip away.
Venue says: “In Waterloo, right in the heart of the action, minutes from Big Ben, the London Eye and Southbank. Enjoy London the Marlin Way.”