We just had to list the best hotels in South Kensington, as this corner of London truly is one of the capitals must-visit areas – whether you’re into art, culture, history or just having a great time. It’s home to three world-class museums – the V&A for decorative arts, plus the Natural History and Science Museums – while nearby Hyde Park has two contemporary art galleries of its own, as well as plenty of green space to relax in. The gem in South Kensington’s crown is the Royal Albert Hall, which hosts concerts by leading musicians of all genres year-round, while restaurants such as the Polish Daquise or Spanish Cambio de Tercio are perfect for a pre-show bite. The best hotels in South Kensington couldn’t, however, be imagined anywhere else than here.
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The best hotels in South Kensington
Although it may look like a Victorian townhouse from the outside, the inside of this South Ken spot is firmly in the 21st century. The decor here is neatly conceptual: each price band keyed to the area’s cultural attractions – astronomy for single/double rooms, music for superior, ornithology for deluxe, and so on. Whatever you opt for, you’ll get an en suite bathroom, movies on demand and media hubs, as well as access to a library, gym, The Drawing Rooms (where you can get snacks) and Apero restaurant.
If searching for something fit for a king (or queen), then the Baglioni might be the hotel for you. Overlooking the busy road into Kensington Gardens, it’s appropriately posh for its setting: from the porte cochère to the butlers, who each have responsibility for a floor. Expect Italian hospitality on a grand scale – with none of the superciliousness that such luxuriousness might imply. The decor in the public areas has no anxieties about excess, giving them their own charm, but the bedrooms have more self-control and are as a consequence rather chic.
Whether you’re away on business and want the freedom to fend for yourself or just want to feel like you’ve scored an apartment in the swankiest part of town, this location could be good for you. Combining hotel-style 24-hour concierge and basic cooking facilities, the rooms are smart and bright, if a bit lacking in imagination, with clearly defined living and sleeping areas; the galley kitchens are rather dapper, with black worktops, black-and-white splashback tiling and the full range of equipment. A welcome hamper provides necessities, from milk to dishwasher tablets.
The nineties were an amazing decade and the Gore channels this period of South Ken perfectly (1890s, that is). From a parquet-floored lobby hung with tapestry and antique portraits, the grand staircase sweeps up to bedrooms with bookcases and oak beds, delicately carved in the nineteenth century. Take things back in time even further with a night in the Tudor Room suite – complete with oak beams, grand fireplace and fifteenth-century minstrels’ gallery – before sampling some slightly more contemporary cocktails at Bar 190.
Grand rows of white stucco townhouses characterise South Ken and the Kensington Hotel is one of the best. Its rooms are a refined mix of pale shades with pops of bright colour that will catch your attention, while you can expect at least one item of show-stopping furniture – free-standing bathtub with gold claw feet, anyone? While the interconnecting restaurant rooms are a bit subdued, funky naked-bulb chandeliers dramatically illuminate the bar.
Although it might have a slightly more ‘hostel’ vibe than the other hotels on this list, the German chain Meininger has combined affordability with all the essentials you’d need at its London outpost. In addition to dormitories, there are private twin and four-person rooms, sparsely but pleasantly done out, and appealing public spaces including a café-bar, games area and terrace, as well as free wifi throughout the premises and 24-hour reception. The location is superb, right next to the Natural History Museum.
Another townhouse hotel, this spot just off Old Brompton Road is close to all the action while also being an oasis of calm. Part of Kit Kemp’s Firmdale empire, this is the most affordable – yet, oddly, it is one of our favourites. Through the ground-floor public rooms, her attention to detail (the fresh flowers, decorations cut from bird books into pop-ups) is evident, and the bedrooms are bright with bold colours and full of light. There’s something spring-like about the hotel – even in the depths of winter.
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