There are really two central Londons: the buzzy West End and, east of it, the financial district of the City, so plenty to choose from in looking for the best hotels in central London. Within the West End are districts as diverse as Soho – once a marginal area of dodgy clubs and brothels, now London’s entertainment centre, with iconic long-established pubs and buzzing new restaurants – and Mayfair, with luxury shops, exclusive restaurants and some of the country’s most expensive property. Most of London’s top hotels are clustered in this area, but don’t discount the rest on our list – for price, location and style, we think they’re the best hotels in central London.
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The best hotels in central London
This luxury hotel with an Art Deco vibe was built in the shell of Selfridges’ old garage. The conversion was so skilful that the hotel looks as if it’s been here forever, with dark wood panelling, curvy deco furnishings and portraits on the walls creating a luxurious, clubby feel. The Colony Grill does grillroom glamour to a tee, with rounded banquettes, 1920s sporting murals, and black-and-white photo portraits. In stark contrast is Antony Gormley’s much-discussed ROOM, a LEGO-like sculptural addition with a room at its heart.
The epitome of the grand Art Deco hotel – from the after-dark, masculine charm of the Fumoir to the smart grey and stained-glass skylights of Michelin-starred Fera and the more delicately feminine foyer, with its Medusa-like Dale Chihuly chandelier – Claridge’s has hosted many starry events through the years. Some guestrooms continue the deco theme. Others are more classic, but all have beautiful furnishings. White marble bathrooms are suitably luxurious and comfort is key: bedside panels control mod-con room facilities.
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.
Converted from Whitehall offices, the Corinthia wears the mantle of a grand hotel lightly, making good use of the original structure while maintaining 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.
A second rebirth of a railway hotel (alongside the nearby, pricier, Renaissance St Pancras), the 1854 Great Northern Hotel, with its well-known curved façade, retains the spirit of its heyday in 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.
Designer Kit Kemp has stamped her particular brand of bold decor mixes on to Ham Yard, flagship of the Firmdale hotel group, known for its distinctive take on boutique luxury. You’ll find splashes of bright colours on a dove grey palette, English chintzes mixed with sober stripes, and traditional furnishings juxtaposed with funky art. 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.
A classic Regency exterior fronts another Firmdale hotel, with designer Kit Kemp letting loose her winning combinations of classic styles and English florals with bold, contemporary colour combinations and quirky sculptures and patterns. Guestrooms match traditional furnishings with the same eclectic mix. The Haymarket’s USP is its funky subterranean pool and party area, with a pewter bar, gold furnishings and pillars, a ceiling dotted with tiny fibre optic lights and an ever-changing lighting installation that bathes the space in an atmospheric glow.
Hazlitt’s is the antithesis of modern minimalism. Set in four Georgian townhouses in Soho, this place is an extravagant evocation of the Georgian era, with painted panelled walls, open fireplaces, antique furnishings and old oil portraits in gilt frames. 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.
Housed in a gracious Marylebone townhouse, No.10 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 in the indoor cigar room, with a collection of Havanas and pictures of famous men smoking them, and all-weather smoking terrace.
Cutting-edge design and a brilliant South Bank location are the Mondrian’s two best assets. Public spaces are playful, colourful and retro, with picture windows overlooking the river. The twelfth-floor Rumpus Room bar has a great river view, while the dusky pink and dark green Dandelyan 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.