Keeen on doing something of a celebrity safari? By coming to our list of the best hotels in London for star spotting, you’ve come to the right place. London overflows with the most famous names in the world of hospitality, all of whom know what’s what when it comes to looking after the wealthiest and most discerning (read: nightmarish) people in the world. From hidden spas and 24-hour butlers to heated loo seats and secret hotel suites, nothing is too much hassle. But what was hot five years ago may now have fallen out of fashion, so before dropping a month’s wages at a trendy restaurant on the off-chance of seeing an A-lister, consult our list of the best hotels in London for star spotting.
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The Langham’s location is the key to its appeal among the glitterati: it’s at the top end of Regent Street opposite BBC Broadcasting House, meaning that those with early or late shows at the Beeb get put up here. There’s a discreet indoor pool, a serene spa, swanky restaurant Roux at The Landau, and Palm Court, which couldn’t be more English, having laid claim to the tradition of afternoon tea when the 380-room hotel opened in 1865. Past guests include Lady Gaga, Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and, er, Gloria Hunniford. Note that lesser beings – Radio One DJs, say – can sometimes be spotted at the YHA Oxford Street around the corner (ouch).
This 67-room little slice of the Bella Vita is popular with a certain sort of celeb that likes to bring the gang: the majority of the first floor, including private bar, can be block-booked so pesky mortals won’t be wandering into that afterparty. Christina Aguilera, Lindsay Lohan, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are all fans, there for the views out over Kensington Palace and Gardens no doubt, and the fact that a Maserati with chauffeur is available for shopping trips (cabs are for riffraff). Naturally, pets are welcome.
Maybe it’s the location, not in stuffy Mayfair but cool Soho, or maybe it’s Kit Kemp’s contemporary, rather than traditional decor, or maybe it’s the two screening room cinemas, but Soho Hotel buzzes with famous folk, along with myriad hanger-ons, so much so that the lobby of this 85-room ex-car park sometimes feels like a conga line of agents, screenwriters and rubbernecking normal folk, all here pretending not to ogle Ross from ‘Friends’, Ryan Gosling, Michael Cera or Kate Hudson.
For the absolute crème de la crème of celebrities, you want to park up in Claridge's. The Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia was born in suite 212 for crying out loud; celebs don't come much more high class than actual royalty. To cater for such a distinguished clientele, Claridge's provide heated loo seats in every room and the suites come with a private butler, on call 24/7 no less. There's also a listed art deco ballroom, which only adds to the attraction that the likes of SJP, Julia Roberts and Kate Winslet obviously have to the grand hotel.
The design might explain the hotel’s appeal to the rich and famous, eschewing, as it does, out-of-this-world luxury for unusual art pieces and eye-catching fabrics, which basically means that if you’re a gazillionaire, it probably just looks like home. The private cinema and library can’t hurt either. And, not to be tacky, but our top tip for ogling celeb comings and goings? The mini tables out front on Monmouth Street: hide behind your cappuccino and catch the likes of Bob Geldof, Ashton Kutcher or Liza Minnelli sauntering out into Covent Garden.
The Corinthia knows how to throw a party. Aftershow parties, fashion week parties, BAFTA parties, charity galas – the fun never stops. But it’s not just good times revelry; the Corinthia’s press facilities have made it a hit with Hollywood studios who send the likes of Chris Pine, Johnny Depp and Donald Sutherland to do junkets in the five high-tech meeting rooms, before whizzing them off to premieres. When it's all over there’s a spectacular three-floor, 3,330-square-metre spa to unwind in.
A serious opulence permeates The Connaught, which regularly welcomes presidents, sheikhs and business bigwigs, as well as a fair amount of tabloid-fodder à la Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow or Taylor Swift. There's artwork by Damien Hirst and Barbara Hepworth and a water feature out front by Japanese artist Tadao Ando, but really The Connaught is a master of traditional British charm (think Claridge’s: they have the same owner). It also has friends in high places, as in 2002 a new kitchen was opened by none other than Her Majesty The Queen.
Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck opened the Sanderson in 2000 to great fanfare, and its fun, futuristic design has kept it popular with the in crowd ever since. It’s a popular spot for a launch or an afterparty, and everyone from Mariah Carey to Nicole Kidman has been spotted slipping out of the starship-themed lifts, reclining on the bold-as-you-like lobby furniture, or popping into the jewel-like Purple Bar (which doesn’t let the oiks in).
The Dorchester has been swarming with the rich and famous since 1931. General Eisenhower lived here during WWII; Prince Philip had his stag do here, and Elizabeth Taylor found out she’d got the role of Cleopatra while staying in the Harlequin suite (small change at £7,700 a night). Alfred Hitchcock loved it, and the Kardashians and Kate Moss have all been spotted lately, but its popularity – at least among non-royals – was dented after a celebrity boycott began in 2014 when its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, introduced Sharia Law in his home country.
With three staff to each guest, every room benefitting from its own butler and free laptops (just in case you can’t be bothered to unpack yours), it’s not hard to see why this Knightsbridge stalwart hosts the likes of Madonna, Leo DiCaprio and Kanye West. Rooms at this Regency beauty, now London’s most expensive hotel, go from £540 to £27k, and if you’re uber-famous, opt for the Royal Suite, the location of which is supposedly known only by a few members of staff. It’s the location though that’s unbeatable for a certain sort of guest: perfect for Mayfair shopping and having your staff walk the dogs across the road in Hyde Park, but also great if you’re here to see friends: The Queen, conveniently, is just around the corner.
It might have calmed down a bit since its opening a couple of years ago – not hard, as when it opened it had a near-constant scrum of paps outside – but the Firehouse, particularly its restaurant, still knows how to pack in the A-listers. Owner André Balazs (that’s ‘ba-lash’, dahling) is the guy behind LA’s Chateau Marmont and as such knows how to get the likes of Tom Cruise, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and David Beckham – pretty much all the slebs, actually – through the door. Bill Clinton famously took to the decks on his visit (he opened with some Billie Holiday apparently).
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