London’s best five-star hotels
For London’s best views, it’s a no-brainer. The Shangri-La inhabits floors 34-52 of The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, so on a clear day you can pretty much see the whole city (unless you book one of the cheaper, south-facing rooms). A less welcome aspect of the impressive floor-to-ceiling glass is that you can also see your neighbours in their room. Awkward! (Don’t worry, there are blinds for the timid.) Rooms are furnished in glamorous Asian-international-contemporary style with luxury materials such as marble and silk and all contain binoculars, making it obvious that the star of the show was always going to be the vista.
Claridge’s continues to fly the flag for Mayfair super-bling with its art deco-meets-Victoriana design and a lobby with pics of previous guests – such as Winston Churchill. Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Fera restaurant is now run by protégé Matt Starling and is always packed. Off-duty celebs tend to hide away in the handsome, discreet bar – if they care to venture out of their rooms at all. And why would they, when they come adorned with such luxuries as art deco toilet flushes? If it’s payday, book one of the stunning David Linley suites.
Everything you need to know about The Ned can be described in two words: Soho House. This five-star hotel and members' club has been lovingly refurbished with £200 million from the SH pocket. It's in a former bank in the City and everything about reeks of money. From the marble tables in one of eight eateries, to the rooftop pool (one of two), and the French-polished walnut panelling in their four-poster Heritage rooms. Certain parts, including the rooftop bar (one of 15, ahem) are only open to Soho House members, so it’s worth checking in advance to avoid disappointment. But even the ground-floor bar, open to everyone, is a joy to behold.
The Langham is the choice of many visiting celebs headed for the BBC’s Broadcasting House opposite. It’s an understated, charming hotel with enduring, 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.
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) employing around 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.
This positively palatial London institution is the place to head if you like the idea of a world where jeans and trainers are banned and jackets must be worn by gentlemen when dining. The rooms have been restored to their full Louis XVI glory, but such opulence isn’t for everyone, and neither are the prices. If you fancy being an interloper, book well in advance and pack your glad rags for an elegant afternoon tea in the Palm Court or dinner at the Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant, a riot of murals, ceiling frescoes, statues and drapery.
With a prime riverside location, a destination cocktail bar and a cinema, the Mondrian is a hotel for international travellers and Londoners alike. Tom Dixon has designed all the furnishings, there's a ship theme running through the public spaces, and right at the top you'll find a glass cube containing a bar. This is luxury with a pinch of fun.
Located in Selfridges’ former garage, The Beaumont is pure art deco fantasia, courtesy of ace restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. The duo have applied their trademark attention to detail to create a totally stunning space filled with dark wood panelling, curvy deco furnishings and portraits on the walls. The effect is comfortable and clubby. ‘ROOM’ by Antony Gormley, a womblike sculpture/suite is the one to stay in.
True to its current name, the gothic-revival Midland Grand (built on the front of St Pancras station in 1873) really was reborn in 2011, looking for all the world like it was built by a stern giant sometime during the Industrial Revolution… then redecorated ever so slightly naffly by his comfort-loving new spouse. The design is sensitive to the original’s context across 120 grand rooms and suites in the historic hotel, and an equal number in a new wing.
This is a classic hotel close to Buckingham Palace (the Middleton family stayed here before Kate’s wedding) with plenty of chintz, mahogany and genteel luxury: polite cards ask you not to use your phone or conduct business during afternoon tea. But as well as being good for a true ‘Downton Abbey’ experience (croquet on the lawn during the summer months and, if you book a suite, the services of a footman are yours), it’s the place for Michelin-starred dining.
Fancy something a bit more romantic?
Choosing the best romantic hotels in London was never going to be an easy task. The city really is one of the best places on earth to be loved up, especially if you make your stay postcard-perfect and pick a hotel where there’s champagne on arrival, breakfast is served in bed and the views will make your hearts soar.
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