The best hotels in Soho
Straight off the bat: it’s not all about fancy-high hotels in Soho. SoHostel is perfect for those who aren’t bothered about frills. You’ll find dorm rooms, twins and doubles, plus a roof terrace and guest-only bar and roof garden, free wi-fi and breakfast (at a small extra charge). But really, it’s the location that’s the real sell: you’re right in the thick of it, meaning that you could spend days exploring central London from your base here on Dean Street and never have to set foot on – or have to pay for – public transport.
If you’re working to a tightish budget, but would still like a little comfort, take a look at this branch of the Z chain, which is just off Old Compton Street. The rooms are admittedly small, and the beds aren’t ideal for those taller than six foot. And there are no phones or proper wardrobes. But all the same: at this price, for this location, you cannot complain. En-suite rooms can be had for terrific values, and come with organic wool mattresses and duvets from Devon. There’s also free wine and cheese in the evenings, whoop!
If you prefer period charm to contemporary style, try the four Georgian townhouses that this form this lovely hotel. It’s named after William Hazlitt, a spirited eighteenth-century essayist. It’s full to the brim with louche touches and staggering attention to detail: think heavy fabrics, fireplaces, free-standing tubs and exquisitely carved half-testers. Modern luxuries are in abundance, too: air-conditioning, double-glazing, free wi-fi and even TVs in antique cupboards.
Much like Soho Hotel, this one is another Firmdale Hotel that oozes contemporary class. The group’s co-owner Kit Kemp does a trademark line in bold colour, which is in evidence throughout this block of hotel apartments and boutiques. The central courtyard is well-populated with diners and drinkers on warm days, and although it’s a cavernous endeavour that could feel a little corporate, touches like an on-site library, and cinema/theatre and even a bowling alley make the whole thing far more loose-collared.
With a name like Sanctum, you might expect a spa-like, cocoon atmosphere rather than what you get here, which is a former MI5 research building turned into what looks like a club. In fact, it can feel like a club too, with a 24-hour bar with a multi-level terrace housing a hot tub. It’s all very rap video – some of the beds in the rooms even rotate – or should that be rock video? There’s even a guitar tuning service at reception.
The Nadler is another fantastic quality budget option: a simple but stylish 78-room, four-star bolt-hole near Soho Square. Each has a Nespresso machine, mini-kitchen, air-conditioning and free wi-fi. There’s no on-site bar or restaurant, but the staff at the lobby desk will point you out to nearby spots (of which there are many). Breakfast can be delivered to your room, but with the whole of Soho right on your doorstep, you’re better off popping out.
As you’d probably expect from the name, this Grade II-listed, 116-room, five-star hotel is based in what used to be a magistrates court. It’s just off London’s main shopping nerve, Oxford Street, so perfect if you have retail therapy on your mind. When you’re done with that, among the attractions back in the hotel are a spa and sauna, a rooftop cocktail bar and, quite wonderfully, a 100-person private cinema which hosts a regular cult film club. Rooms are modern and well-equipped but it’s in the traditional that the hotel shines, such as its restaurant, Silk, which is housed in a wood-panelled converted courtroom, the site for the trials of John Lennon, Oscar Wilde and Mick Jagger, no less.
Soho is a hard place to pin down. The district – and its southern subsection Chinatown – teems with tourists going to West End shows, media professionals marching to work, hungry patrons sampling some of London's best restaurants and people looking to have a long night out at one (or several) of the area's clubs, bars and pubs.