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.
Perhaps all you need to know about The Ned is that Soho House and £200 million are involved in a sensitive refurb, retaining wood panelling, of an original Sir Edwin Lutyens building. There are gorgeous furnishings, four-poster beds, eight restaurants, 15 bars, a spa, two pools and a boxing gym. Certain parts, including the rooftop bar, are only open to Soho House members, so it’s worth checking 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.
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 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.
This South Bank hotel has 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 the Tate Modern and Southbank Centre. Icing on the cake? The 56-seat Curzon-run cinema and the Austin Powersy-sounding rooftop club, Rumpus Room.
You’d never guess that central London’s most striking-looking hotel was Selfridges’ former garage until a few years ago. After humble beginnings, The Beaumont is now, quite literally, a work of art, with Antony Gormley’s part-suite, part-sculpture, ROOM, adorning its front. Elsewhere decor is pure art deco fantasia and service manages to find the right line between efficient and obsequious; friendly and pseudo-matey. It’s a convenient spot for Selfridges and The American Bar is perfect for a post-spree old fashioned.
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. The St Pancras Renaissance is also the best choice for anyone travelling by Eurostar: the hotel has security clearance and a side door takes you straight to the platform.
No hotel in London is more English than the family-owned Goring; it’s where the Middleton family stayed before the royal wedding. Expect lots of chintz, mahogany and silk, together with genteel luxury: polite tent cards ask you not to use your smartphone 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 twenty-first-century encumbrances in the safe and go back in time for a few days.
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.
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...