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The best hotels in London for star spotting

If you want to gawk at some glamour, the best hotels in London for star spotting should stand you in good stead

Written by
Danielle Goldstein
,
Time Out editors
&
Rhys Thomas
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Keeen on doing something of a celebrity safari? 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 spot plucked from London's best restaurants on the off-chance of seeing an A-lister, consult our list of the best hotels in London for star spotting. Whether you're looking to dine with the stars or to just kick back in luxury, glancing causally in the corridors and just generally pretending to live your best life exactly as they do, then we have something for you. They're not cheap, mind, especially that £27k a night penthouse... 

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

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Langham Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Marylebone

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 (due to reopen in the autumn) 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). In addition to the location, it was initially famous for its one-of-a-kind features. Electric lights, hydraulic lifts, air conditioning, you name it, Langham hotel had it first. 

  • Hotels
  • Kensington

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 over Kensington Palace and Gardens no doubt, and the fact that a Maserati with chauffeur is available for shopping trips (cabs are for riffraff, aren't they). Naturally, pets are welcome too. There's Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park right next door, should you need to take them for walkies. So yeah, you'll spot the famous types here for sure. It's a super luxe part of town, especially if you're looking for Italian elegance in London. Make the "when in Rome excuse" every day, just like the celebs can. 

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Soho

Forget Marylebone and Mayfair, if you want to see the stars you're surely best off heading to the spots where the stars hang out: Soho's pretty good for that. The unrivalled nightlife in the area is a big draw for those with cash to splash and the five-star Soho Hotel makes for the perfect base from which to do so. Pull up a chair in the heated terrace of in-house restaurant Refuel and look out for the likes of Ryan Gosling, Michael Cera, Kate Hudson or Ross from ‘Friends’. They're all known to frequent this lavish space right in the heart of everything flamboyant about London. 

Claridge's
  • Hotels
  • Mayfair

Want the ultimate celeb spot? You wanna get down to Claridge's then don't you, mate. Not sure why you haven't already. This is where royalty stay (like actual royalty, crowns on the head not in the mouth royalty) and you don't get much more famous than that. Queen Victoria is a former guest and Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia was actually born in suite 212. Non-royal (and more recent) queens include Julia Roberts and Kate Winslet, who are no doubt drawn to the iconic hotel by its long history, which dates back to 1812. Or maybe it's the heated loo seats and private butlers. We'd be inclined to agree with them either way to be honest. Mayfair's alright really, isn't it. Rooms usually come with chilled Champagne, a minibar and other nice treats, so that'll take the edge off the price per night. 

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Seven Dials

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 looks like home. The private cinema and bowling alley 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. Thing is, when you're all tucked up inside the bona fide Monmouth Street hotel, it'll feel more like covert garden than Covent Garden. 

  • Hotels
  • Whitehall

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 one of 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. It's also, by all accounts and celebrity A-list standards, a right posh gaff to call home for any amount of time. Whether you're in one of the seven penthouse suites or not. There'll be a bathtub with a built-in television, a coffee machine, rain shower, and nice views. And that's without the celebrities you'll be having a butchers at. 

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  • Hotels
  • Mayfair

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. Fodder, who are we to speak! 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 but possibly even sleeker). It also has friends in high places, as in 2002 a new kitchen was opened by none other than Her Majesty The Queen. Not bad at all, that. I mean, you can buy their own-brand Martini glasses, cocktail shakers, and more here. There's a spot to be shaken not stirred around people who actually know Daniel Craig, don't you think? 

Sanderson
  • Hotels
  • Fitzrovia

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). It's mere steps from Oxford Street, offers some ridiculously good afternoon teas, and has a huge range of services and amenities including complimentary bikes. Imagine seeing your fave Hollywood type skirting around the big smoke on one of them. The helmet hair. Surely not?!  

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The Dorchester
  • Hotels
  • Park Lane

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 Penthouse (small change at almost £8k a night, comes with a good £170 of champers, mind you). Alfred Hitchcock loved it, and more recently the Kardashians and Kate Moss have all been spotted, 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. Not the best bit of business, that. Nothing on the staff though, of course, the butlers and other assistants here are known to be some of the best in the business. 

  • Hotels
  • Hyde Park Corner

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 a night. 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. Frankly, if you're able to splash out that top end cash, why are you reading this? Unless it's to get away from the people trying to find you... in which case, fair play! 

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Chiltern Firehouse Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Marylebone

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 (that's the photo hounds not your dads) – 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 'clebs, actually – through the door. Bill Clinton famously took to the decks on his visit (he opened with some Billie Holiday apparently, yas DJ). It's in Marylebone, so proper Monopoly fare. The restaurant "celebrates contemporary, ingredient-focused cooking, with an underlying American accent." Along with the oysters and pizzas, the forty-eight hour chicken is very much a go-to. 

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