Home to the Houses of Parliament (aka the Palace of Westminster), Whitehall ministries and Downing Street, as well as the eponymous Abbey, Westminster is an area of gravitas and government. Some of the best hotels in Westminster are housed in former government buildings, others in grand former banks or offices.
Top Indian restaurant Cinnamon Club – a favourite with MPs – is in a Victorian former library. At Trafalgar Square, you’ll find Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery, and between the Mall and Piccadilly is the genteel St James’s area, with upscale menswear in Jermyn Street and leafy St James’s Park. You can't go wrong with a stay in this popular area of the capital, you simply need to pick your poison. To get you started, we've pulled together for your viewing pleasure our favourite hotels in Westminster.
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The Nadler concept offers sleek, well-appointed and reasonably priced rooms in shades of cream and caramel with faux fur throws and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. But it eschews usual hotel facilities like restaurants, bars and gyms, instead providing each room with a mini-kitchen, plus Fairtrade tea and coffee, and a Nespresso machine. Food can be delivered from nearby restaurants with no hotel mark-up, there are exclusive offers at local bars and restaurants, and an on-screen guest directory lists restaurants and takeaways.
Sofitel has brought a touch of French verve to this grand neoclassical building, formerly a bank, with a skilled melding of the traditional and contemporary. There are twin curvy spiral staircases in the imposing double-height Balcon restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows, andsoft red sofas and flowery lamps in the Rose Lounge, where afternoon tea is served. Guestrooms are in sophisticated shades of chocolate, almond and olive green, with Nespresso machines and iDock soundsystems, and Hermès bath products in the luxurious bathrooms.
In an imposing property that was once a huge Victorian mansion block, and an entrance reached via its own drive, the St Ermin’s has a traditional-look lobby: a double-height space with bright white stucco and curving balustrades. Things are more modish in the large guestrooms, where combinations of whites and colours, and patterned fabrics, create an airy feel, while the Caxton bar goes for convivial reds and browns and an open fireplace. The hotel makes its own honey from its 350,000-strong bee colony.
Part of Hilton’s Conrad brand, Conrad London St James is a sleek, modern hotel that was converted from government offices a few years ago. Upscale guestrooms in creams and caramels have Nespresso machines and luxurious marble bathrooms. Public spaces include the Blue Boar bar, a hotel-bar riff on a pub, with chesterfield sofas, and Emmeline’s Lounge, a light, airy space for afternoon tea or brunch. There’s also an executive lounge with all-day complimentary refreshments, for those who book executive rooms or suites.
On the southwest corner of Trafalgar Square you'll find this central Hilton offering, which forms part of their Curio Collection. Behind the grand Regency facade (which is listed, no less) was once the offices of Cunard, the shipping company, but is now glamorous art deco all over the place. Soak it all in from the Rockwell cocktail bar downstairs, or Biblio, the plush 'house living room', which has an exclusive private members' club vibe, or beeline for the top, where you'll find The Rooftop bar. Bedrooms are, unsurprisingly, chic as you like, with white and cream walls and walnut furniture.
Fun fact: the boardroom features in films includng Dr No and The Ipcress File.
In a rather grand-looking building, set off the street with a large front lawn, the Wellington is a good bet for a reasonably priced Westminster hotel. Bedrooms are spacious, well-appointed and neutrally furnished. Public areas have a fairly nondescript grey and white modern look – but these too are comfortable, with plenty of sofas in the lobby and bar. There are also five apartments, equipped with kitchenettes. The white chapel is an attractive and unusual events space, with arches, pillars and a domed ceiling.
Sanctuary House is a Fuller’s corner pub with typical (if slightly upmarket) pub decor downstairs and 34 super-comfortable, modern rooms upstairs, decorated in calm neutrals – with some walls of monochrome wallpaper – plus thick floor-to-ceiling curtains and fridges, and king-size beds in larger rooms. Full hotel services are offered, including room service and a 24-hour reception. The pub calls itself an ‘ale and pie house’ and serves a variety of traditional pies, along with other British dishes.
Once Whitehall offices, the Corinthia is now an exceptional hotel. It’s certainly grand, but never grandiose, bringing a contemporary lightness to stunning spaces like the white lobby with central dome and the circular Northall restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows. Sumptuous, hi-tech rooms have the best-quality furnishings in soft colours and Nespresso machines. Marble bathrooms have underfloor heating, separate rainforest showers and oval bathtubs. The peaceful subterranean pool is part of a ‘thermal floor’ that also includes sleep pods and heated loungers.
A classic Regency exterior fronts this colourfully eclectic luxury hotel. Firmdale brand house designer Kit Kemp has let loose her winning combinations of traditional furnishing styles and English florals with bold, contemporary colours and patterns to great effect in public spaces and guestrooms. One of the Haymarket’s greatest assets is its 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.
A less expensive sister to the neighbouring Taj 51, St James’s Court, a Taj Hotel, inhabits a handsome early twentieth-century building with its own share of grandeur, from the marble-floored, wood panelled lobby to the spacious courtyard with a central fountain, plenty of lush greenery, and outside seating for tea, dining or cocktails. Bar and restaurant Bank also has conservatory seating overlooking the courtyard. Comfortable rooms are neutrally decorated in typical hotel beiges, browns and creams.
This is a po-faced land of civil servants, and the ministries that line Whitehall (as well as the heavily guarded, security-gated Downing Street) are strictly off-limits. But it does have one of London's best Indian restaurants, Cinnamon Club, housed in a Grade II-listed Victorian library, a favourite with MPs (and a good place to eavesdrop government secrets).
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