It stands to reason that there's an abundance of five-star hotels in London (close to a hundred at time of writing) to match those of any world-class city. The problem is there's just so much choice. We’ve narrowed it down to the cream of the crop, with tiptop service and luxury on tap, to go spoil yourself at. If cheap hostels and mid-range boutiques are more your style, we can do that too, but, for now, welcome to the very best five-star hotels in London.
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Best five-star hotels in London
This South Bank hotel has bedded in well and is a welcome addition to the London hotel scene. It’s 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 Tate Modern and Southbank Centre. Icing on the cake? The 56-seat Curzon-run cinema and the Austin Powers-y sounding rooftop club, Rumpus Room.
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, reflected in the glass exterior. Awkward! (Don’t worry, there are blinds for the timid.) Decor can feel a little ‘Asian neutral’, but with touches like in-room binoculars, it’s obvious that the star of the show was always going to be the vista.
You’d never guess that central London’s most striking-looking hotel was Selfridge’s former garage until a few years ago. After humble beginnings, the Beaumont is now, quiet literally, a work of art, with Antony Gormley’s part-suite, part-sculpture, ROOM, adorning its front. Elsewhere decor is pure art deco fantasia, courtesy of ace restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, and service manages to nail the fine line between efficient and obsequious; friendly and pseudo-matey. It’s a convenient spot for Selfridges, too, and the American bar is perfect for a post-spree old fashioned.
The first thing you notice about Ham Yard is just how big it is: a three quarters of an acre horseshoe of central London given over to 91 generously proportioned rooms and 24 apartments, along with a small collection of independent shops. The second is just how little it feels like a hotel; in part thanks to a drawing room styled like a gazillionaire writer’s living room, a bowling alley, a 190-seat theatre and – because where would you be without it? – an air-locked gym where you can practise training at altitude.
No hotel in London is more English than the family-owned Goring, famous for the place where the Middleton family stayed before the feted wedding. Expect lots of chintz, mahogany and silk, together with genteel luxury: polite tent cards ask you not to use your smart phone 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 21st century encumbrances in the safe and go back in time for a few days.
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 and mod-cons 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.
A grand Edwardian building that was once a newspaper office is now the preferred spot for the fashion crowd during LFW (the shows at Somerset House are just across the road), as well as armies of visitors who come for the ease of access to Theatreland and the West End. That said, there’s plenty to keep you here: two restaurants, a hip bar in the lobby, TVs in the bathrooms and even underwater piped music in the fabulous pool. The corner rooms have views out over Waterloo Bridge and the river.
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 – like Winston Churchill. Simon Rogan has been in charge since 2014 and successfully so: Fera at Claridge’s is always packed and has quickly picked up a Michelin star. 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.
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. For anyone travelling by Eurostar, it’s a no-brainer. A side door takes you straight to the platform.
Chances are you didn’t even know this was a hotel, so deafening has been the hype around the on-site restaurant it shares its name with. The buzz is all thanks to André Balaz, of LA’s Chateau Marmont fame, who clearly knows how to give the people what they want. The 26 pleasingly retro rooms in this late-Victorian fire station are a simple, stylish treat, and the standard barrage of notices about laundry costs and telly channels are ditched in favour of a note on the dresser saying simply: ‘Dial 0 for anything’. We approve.
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.