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West End at night
Nicola Ferrara

The best hotels in central London

Enjoy London's busy and buzzy centre by nabbing yourself a stay at one of central London's best hotels

Written by
Time Out editors
&
Paula Akpan
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So, when we say 'central London', what do we actually mean? Well, there are two main hubs: the ever-iconic West End and the money-making district of the City so there's a huge range of options for a convenient stay.

The former is London's entertainment core with plenty to do, new restaurants to dine at and iconic pubs for ending any evening with a buzz. The latter is where you'll find your luxury boutiques and exclusive restaurants and haunts. Whether you want to be close to the action or treat yourself to some decadence, we've pooled together the very best hotels in central London to help you narrow things down.

Looking for more options? Check out London’s best Airbnbs.

This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.

Claridge's
  • Hotels
  • Mayfair
  • price 4 of 4

Art deco oasis Claridge’s has hosted many starry events through the years and always attracts a fashionable crowd, with its luxuriously designed rooms and suites. Some guestrooms continue the deco theme, while others are more classic, but all have beautiful furnishings. White marble bathrooms are suitably luxurious and comfort is key: bedside panels control all the room's mod cons. Its main restaurant is also not to be sniffed at, boasting smart grey and stained-glass skylights. A stay here is the epitome of decadence.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Southwark

Youthful, contemporary styling starts in the comfortable lobby, where Vitra furnishings and books (they’re for sale) create a real living space. Budget-priced rooms are very small but perfectly formed, with wall-to-wall windows adding a sense of spaciousness. High-pressure showers, a tablet to control technology, and gigantic beds – which fill up most of the room – make for a very comfy stay; add in the friendly canteenM, open all-day for breakfast, lunch, simple dinners and drinks, and you may find it hard to leave.

 

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  • Hotels
  • Whitehall

The Corinthia Hotel looks pretty grand on the outside and that follows through to its interior with a modern twist. There's an airy, spacious and contemporary feel in public spaces like the beautiful lobby and the circular Northall restaurant. From the high-tech rooms with super-soft furnishings, marble bathrooms and oval bathtubs, to the peaceful subterranean pool on a ‘thermal floor’ with sleep pods and heated loungers, this place envelops you in luxury.

Great Northern Hotel
  • Hotels
  • King’s Cross

The 1854 Great Northern Hotel, with its well-known curved façade, retains the spirit of its heyday as "the original railway hotel". Luxuriate in the public spaces such as the GNH Bar, opening directly onto King’s Cross station, with its chandeliers and Belle Epoque mirrored ceiling. By contrast, rooms are sleek, chic and contemporary, with vintage-style Lefroy-Brooks bathrooms. Some are panelled in dark walnut, while smaller ones are modelled on sleeper carriages.

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  • Hotels
  • Soho

Designer Kit Kemp, known for her bold decor, certainly left her stamp Ham Yard, flagship of the Firmdale hotel group: think splashes of colour on a dove grey palette, strong strips playing with English chintzes, and funky art meeting classic furnishings. Floor-to-ceiling windows bring in light, and the whole effect is sumptuously comfortable. Ham Yard includes a whole central courtyard of curated independent shops, and on the roof is a secret, leafy garden.

 

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Soho
  • price 3 of 4

"Extravagant" is the word for this Soho hotel set in four Georgian townhouses. Painted panelled walls, open fireplaces, antique furnishings and old oil portraits in gilt frames all contribute to Hazlitt's old-fashioned charm. Individually furnished bedrooms continue the theme, with free-standing tubs, heavy curtains, and four-posters or exquisitely carved half-tester beds. Modern comforts are discreetly in place, however, with modern heating/air-conditioning and TVs in antique cupboards.

 

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No Ten Manchester Street
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Marylebone

Housed in a gracious Marylebone townhouse, No Ten Manchester Street is a small hotel on the conservative end of the spectrum, with decor that’s classic, but warm and stylish too. Some of the plush bedrooms have touches of pale greeny-blue and dark red matching the caramels and creams, and courtyard rooms have access to their own little piece of patio. There’s a masculine touch at the indoor cigar bar, with a collection of Havanas and pictures of famous men smoking them, and all-weather smoking terrace.

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • South Bank
  • price 4 of 4

There's little better than a swanky riverside hotel with cutting-edge design. Public spaces are playful, colourful and retro, with picture windows overlooking the river. The 12th Knot bar (on level 12) has a great river view, while the dusky pink and dark green Lyaness has an outstanding cocktail menu. Rooms, designed by Tom Dixon, are super-modern, of course, with blocks of reds, blacks, pinks and greys adding a 1980s vibe. Design items in rooms include Tom Dixon’s signature wingback chairs.

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My Bloomsbury
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • price 3 of 4

My Bloomsbury is certainly somewhere you'll want to claim. A converted Georgian townhouse, this central London building oozes a modern comfortability. Standard rooms are simple but stylish, with white or cream walls and white subway-tiled bathrooms. Larger superior rooms add some bold colour – like blacks and royal blue – to the mix. The My Place penthouse is a stunner, with dark wood panelling and floors, and access to the roof terrace. Bright spaces on the ground floor include Gail’s Kitchen, with soft tan leather banquettes, and Gail’s Bakery, an artisan bakery and café.

 

One Aldwych
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Aldwych
  • price 4 of 4

Once the offices of the long-defunct Morning Post, One Aldwych has taken a grand old structure and imposed some stunning yet simple contemporary style. The striking double-height white lobby, with floor-to-ceiling windows framed in dark wood, is the heart of the hotel and home to a lively bar. Eneko Atxa – of the three-Michelin-starred Azurmendi in Bilbao – has brought creative Basque cuisine with his eponymous restaurant. Luxurious guestrooms have original art, and the tranquil subterranean pool doesn’t only look beautiful, it’s chlorine-free and has an underwater music system.

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  • Hotels
  • St Pancras

Impressive, opulent and grand are the words that sum up this King's Cross hotel well. Restored from its original structure, the new and improved railway hotel beckons guests with its huge grand staircase and arched windows, are matched with faithfully authentic decoration, with fleur-de-lys wallpaper, painted ceilings and faux-medieval murals. Most of the guestrooms take a more restrained approach, opting for contemporary luxury. Tiled walls around the blissful underground pool, part of the hotel’s spa facilities, lend a Victorian-Moorish vibe.

  • Hotels
  • Piccadilly
  • price 4 of 4

For all-out palatial excess, it’s hard to beat the storied Ritz. The Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant is a riot of murals, ceiling frescoes, statues and drapes. The Long Gallery goes further, with chandelier-bearing statues, rococo mirrors and marble pillars. The legendary Palm Court, where afternoon tea is served, has a conservatory ceiling, gold statues and chandeliers. Guestrooms have a much-toned-down version of downstairs’ empire-style furnishings and decor, with relaxing pale colours. Needless to say, they are supremely comfortable.

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Shangri-La The Shard
  • Hotels
  • London Bridge

Way up high in the iconic glass-covered Shard at London Bridge, this luxury hotel is all about the views - which are floor-to-ceiling, by the way (even in the bathroom). Guestrooms are furnished in glamorous Asian-international-contemporary style with luxury materials like marble and silks. The indoor Skypool on Level 52 provides a tranquil if surreal spot for a swim, with bar and restaurant Gong next door.

  • Hotels
  • Paddington
  • price 1 of 4

Behind a white stucco nineteenth-century façade in Paddington is a retro-futurist’s dream of a budget hotel. Stylorooms, as they’re known, have aluminium panelling, upholstered royal blue wall panels and headboards, royal blue curtains and pod bathrooms. They come in various bed combinations, for up to four people. There are also smart suites, with a kitchen and dining table, in a building around the corner. There’s complimentary tea and coffee in the stylolounge, which is done out in glass and stainless steel, with comfortable sofas.

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Fleet Street

Sure, it may not possess the opulence that other options in our list do, but with a branch on Fleet Street and five more across the city, you can't beat it it for affordability in great locations. Though cosy, the rooms are designed ingeniously, with smart bathrooms, comfy beds (albeit against the wall to save space), and a calming, neutral palette. Want to save a couple more coins? Rooms without windows are also available.

The Zetter Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Clerkenwell
  • price 3 of 4

Head down to Clerkenwell for this creatively converted Victorian warehouse. A favourite for creative types, rooms are clean-cut and contemporary, with painted bare bricks (in some) and colour splashes from paintings and furnishings. Spacious ‘rooftop studios’ have private balconies and home comforts ready and waiting, such as REN toiletries, fluffy bathrobes and a selection of Penguin classics and magazines. Downstairs, the Club Zetter wine bar and kitchen is a colourful 1960s-style space with good wines and beers and an all-day menu.

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London Edition
  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Fitzrovia

There's a certain glorious drama that can be found within the walls of The London Edition. There’s the grand lobby, with its double-height rococo ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows and marble pillars – matched with a huge stainless steel orb hanging from the ceiling. The very popular Berners Tavern has more ornate stucco and walls covered top to bottom in paintings. Rooms, on the other hand, go for a luxury hunting lodge or dacha vibe, with faux fur throws on sumptuous beds and wood-panelled walls.

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