What makes a good business hotel? Location, obvs. You can't conduct serious business on the fringes, you need to be where the action is: central and near the money, aka the financial district, aka the City of London. Other important factors we’ve considered are the technology on offer and the comfort stakes in-room so you can unwind to the fullest post power-meet. Plus excellent facilities, such as fine dining for entertaining clients, and spas and gyms in which to de-stress at the end of the day and keep fit while travelling. All the hotels we've picked have free high-speed wifi, desks in every room and function spaces.
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A cheaper option than the surrounding luxury chains, Aloft sits right next to the ExCel Centre and is handy for London City Airport (there’s a direct shuttle) and the DLR. Service is minimal, but in a welcoming way; shove your credit card into the self-check-in and your key card is dispensed, giving you access to the upper floors by lift, where funky lighting guides you to your room (think modern, masculine decor with high-tech mod cons). Your card also gets you into the pool and gym. Free wifi throughout, five meeting rooms and a lively bar-diner are other winning features for business travellers.
The Andaz mixes down-to-earth, well-informed service with mid-mod style like Eames chairs and Frette linens. Free services, such as wifi, local calls and minibar drinks and snacks are an appreciated touch, and health facilities include a fitness centre and steam room. Dining options are numerous, from breakfast in the Grade II-listed ballroom that houses 1901 Restaurant (as well as the occasional wedding), to brunch at Rake's Cafe Bar to Japanese at Miyako, plus there's Lady Abercorn's Pub & Kitchen for good measure and Eastway Brasserie. If you want to book a meeting room you have 14 to choose from, as well as access to a dedicated events team. The basement Masonic Temple, meanwhile – a feature of the original railway hotel – is used for film screenings, fashion shows and corporate events. Handy for the City and the Barbican.
It’s a 15-minute walk to the City of London from this affordably chic hotel, which has self-check-in at a slick café bar in the reception area. The nearby lounge area has a workspace dotted with iMacs for guest use, and there’s a 24-hour canteen and seven – count ’em – meeting rooms. Though guest rooms are small, they are well designed and technologically impressive: the drench showers, free wifi and movies, funky coloured lighting and blackout blinds are all controlled from a tablet.
Photographs of illustrious past guests, including Churchill and sundry royals, grace the grand foyer of this Mayfair hotel, as does an ostentatious Dale Chihuly chandelier. The hotel’s signature art deco redesign is simply dazzling and its main restaurant area has been taken over by Davies and Brook, and is set to open this autumn to fashionable fanfare. The rooms divide evenly between deco and Victorian in style; all have bedside panels to control the facilities. Business travellers are well looked after with a broad range of conference, meeting and private dining rooms, while the spa and gym provide much needed post-conference R&R.
The Great Northern is a good bet for Continental business travellers, sitting as it does opposite the St Pancras International Eurostar terminal. It was London’s first railway hotel when it opened in 1854 and has had plenty of rough times since then, but almost £40m of renovation has recreated the place as a classic. The soundproofed rooms mix contemporary style with echoes of the building’s Victorian railway heritage (such as wood-panelled walls) and each floor boasts a charming pantry with cakes, coffee, newspapers and even a USB printer, although room service is available too. The first floor also has a grand restaurant-bar.
Located in the heart of the West End, this grandly proportioned hotel features a separate block of hotel apartments and a cluster of curated shops and restaurants around a central courtyard. Guests won’t feel lost in all this vastness due to unusually friendly service and co-owner Kit Kemp’s conversation-starter decor. Highlights for the business traveller include a ground floor bar and restaurant, meeting rooms and fabulously appointed rooms with desks, flat screens in the bathroom and tech that actually works – first time. The leafy roof garden is perfect for summer meetings.
The Hoxton is a good bet for an affordable, modern and well-located stay with heaps of character. The hotel may have a stylish bar-brasserie run by exclusive members club Soho House but their first-come, first-served prices reveal its egalitarian vibe. A particular draw for creatives and startups is ‘The Apartment’ – a design-led meeting and events space with free wifi, large LED screens and flipcharts, and a kitchen stocked with complimentary beverages and snacks.
London’s first ME by Meliá, designed by Foster + Partners, is a thing of beauty, with light, minimalist decor and expensive finishings. It sits next door to Marconi House, from where the fledgling BBC made its first radio broadcast in 1922, and is directly opposite Somerset House. Business guests are well looked after with free wifi, Nespresso machines and soundproofed room walls, as well as seven meeting rooms and a 24-hour gym. The sleek STK restaurant and chic Radio Rooftop bar are stylish spots in which to entertain clients; the latter also offering fabulous views of the Thames.
The welcome at the super-luxe, Grade II-listed Savoy begins before you even arrive at the famous cul-de-sac, with a phone call to ascertain your particular requirements. Those looking to host a business meeting at this central hotel can choose from myriad function rooms, guided by a member of the dedicated events team. Individual guests have access to the 24-hour business centre and luxury spa and pool. Dining/imbibing options include Gordon Ramsay’s grill, champagne bar, gourmet deli counter and the hotel’s famous American Bar, known for its martinis.
The Shangri-La is known for its upscale guest rooms with unbeatable skyline views from floor-to-ceiling windows. These same views can also be enjoyed from its conference rooms, for meetings at which you want to impress. The hotel starts on floor 35 of the Renzo Piano-designed pyramid structure, where there is a spacious foyer and restaurant, while the pool and gym are all the way up on floor 52. Other plus points for business travellers include multilingual staff, free wifi throughout, and the hotel’s proximity to London Bridge station and the City.