The Best London Hotels

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Updated: October 15, 2020

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London Hotels – Tips and Recommendations

The 18 Best Hotels in London

1. The Connaught – Mayfair

Large luxury apartment suite in London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7499 7070
The hub of Mayfair from 1815 onwards and a short walk from designer stores, the Connaught is where English charm and historical heritage meet modernity. The grand dark wood staircase, personal butlers, and traditional rooms designed by Guy Oliver all hark back to the days when the hotel’s guests included French president Charles de Gaulle. Rooms in the new wing are bright, contemporary, and somewhat Eastern in design. Families are accommodated in interconnecting rooms with treats for kids, child-friendly menu, and twice-daily, family-only swimming sessions at the Aman Spa swimming pool. Dining options include the two Michelin-starred Hélène Darroze which serves some of the best French cuisine in London. Afternoon tea is served in the light-filled conservatory. The Connaught Bar, famous for its signature martini, runs cocktail classes overseen by award-winning mixologist Agostino Perrone.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

2. Shangri-La at the Shard – London Bridge

Luxury London hotel with nice pool.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7234 8000
Occupying the 34th to 52nd floors of the Shard (London’s iconic jagged-topped skyscraper) the Shangri-La is London’s highest hotel. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the rooms, restaurant, and bar and Infinity Skypool on the 52nd floor offer unparalleled views of the city. Rooms contain king-sized beds and marble bathrooms equipped with Washlet toilets. While all 17 suits come with personal butler service, the Shangri-La Suite also features its own jacuzzi. Asian specialties feature heavily on the menu of TĪNG, the in-house restaurant, while LÁNG deli serves home-made chocolates and signature cakes. The GŎNG bar on the 52nd floor serves classic afternoon tea and excellent cocktails. Close to London Bridge tube; a short walk from Tower Bridge, Tate Modern, and the Tower of London. Well-placed for boat tours of the Thames.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

3. Batty Langley’s – Spitalfields

Oustide Batty Langley's hotel in Spitalfields, London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7377 4390
Step a couple of centuries back in time at in this 5-star boutique hotel, lavishly decorated with meticulously restored antiques all updated with super comfy bedding. Most rooms and suites feature whimsical, period-piece bathrooms – some with vintage throne loos, a Victorian bathing machine, or clawfoot tubs. The top tier Earl of Bolingbroke Suite is split over two floors with a terrace, a second bathroom, its own luggage elevator, and a bookshelf with a hidden surprise. Perks include 24-hour room service, an honesty bar, turndown service, and Apple TV. Common areas offer a home feel with grand fireplaces, window seats, and secluded patios.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

4. Soho Hotel – Soho

Boutique hotel with luxury suite in London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7559 3000
This boutique hotel is right in the heart of Soho with excellent dining and nightlife right on its doorstep and soundproofed against the street noise. The entire hotel features bright colors and playful touches that interior designer and co-owner Kit Kemp is known for, from the bold mural behind the bar to the Botero cat sculpture in the lobby. All rooms were individually designed and feature vibrant, eye-catching wallpaper, a signature mannequin, and a striped umbrella in each wardrobe. Some rooms are interconnected to accommodate families. Bathrooms have free-standing tubs and his-and-hers sinks. Guests can relax in the library or in the sculpture-strewn drawing room, complete with a 24-hour honesty bar. A full-scale gym, massage treatments, and manicures can be done in-house. The Refuel restaurant serves contemporary European dishes with a separate children’s menu.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

5. The Savoy – Covent Garden

Luxury hotel with separate living room and bedroom.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7836 4343
In the heart of West End, the Savoy is the grand dame of London hotels, its roster of past guests including Monet and Laurence Olivier. Once you make your way past feline-shaped topiary and the top-hatted doormen, you are immediately met by the hotel staff and whisked off to your room; there is no reception. Rooms are either English Edwardian or art deco in design, though both come with thoroughly modern bathrooms and rain showers; suites include butler service. Family perks include vacation packages, amenities for kids, and adjoining rooms. Dining options include Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill for classic British cuisine with French touches (dress code), a roast dinner at Simpson’s-on-the-Strand, or informal seafood atKaspar Bar and Grill. The Savoy is one of the best places in London to enjoy afternoon tea. The hotel’s bars are equally illustrious: the legendary American Bar is London’s oldest and renowned for its cocktails, while the Beaufort Bar is dominated by the icicle-like Lalique-style bar serving original creations.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

6. The Ritz London – St. James

5 Star Hotel in London with nice furnishings.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7493 8181
The Ritz has been a byword for old-world luxury since 1906. Overlooking Green Park and near Buckingham Palace, the Ritz has played host to countless royals, movie stars, and politicians including Noel Coward, Churchill, Eisenhower. More recently, an episode of “Downton Abbey” was shot here. Conceived by London- and Paris-based designers, the high-ceilinged guest rooms are decorated in classic Louis XVI style – the picture of opulence completed with ornate antique furnishings and heavy silk drapes. The three Signature Suites come with butler service. The Ritz Restaurant recreates classic French dishes using the best of British seasonal produce, while the art deco Rivoli bar is an intimate gathering place for cocktails. Non-guests and guests alike indulge in “Tea at the Ritz” every afternoon tea at the elegant Palm Court to the accompaniment of the resident pianist who used to play with Frank Sinatra. Dress code throughout.
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7. Claridge’s – Mayfair

Boutique hotel in central London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7629 8860
For over 150 years, Claridge’s has defined London’s luxury experience, its elegant art deco interior playing host to royals, actors, and other VIPs. In the rooms, hand-selected furniture, signature prints, and sumptuous fabrics abound. The service is discreet and attentive. Those staying in the top-tier suites are waited on by butlers. At Michelin-starred Fera, celebrated chef Simon Rogan prepares innovative takes on British cuisine that makes the most of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients; specially arranged masterclasses are on offer in the kitchen here. Afternoon tea in the sumptuous Grand Foyer is a highlight. Claridge’s Bar is the place to sample vintage champagnes and some of the world’s best wines, while the Fumoir is a dark, seductive space to retreat to for a signature cocktail.
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8. The Dorchester – Mayfair

Top of line hotel in London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7629 8888
Overlooking Hyde Park, the sumptuous Dorchester has been attracting royalty, Hollywood actors, and political leaders since it opened in 1931. Marble pillars prop up the grand Promenade lobby; guests gather here for afternoon tea to the accompaniment of a resident pianist. The elegant rooms and are decorated with hand-picked antique furniture and bespoke fabrics. Sizeable white marble bathrooms with powerful rain showers are said to have the deepest baths in London. The most illustrious in-house dining option is Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester – the only restaurant in London with three Michelin stars and fine takes on French classics on the menu. Live jazz complements Cantonese food at China Tang, while The Grill serves solidly British classics. Tipples at The Bar include international wines, Scottish whiskies, and an impressive range of cocktails. The futuristic Dorchester Spa rejuvenates guests with signature facials by Carol Joy London and anti-aging techniques by La Prairie.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

9. St. Pancras Renaissance – Camden

Hotel with cool bar and restaurant onsite.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7841 3540
A London landmark in every possible way, the beautifully restored St Pancras Renaissance retains many of its original 19th-century hotel features from replica carpets and wallpaper to the cathedral-like cupola ceiling above the grand staircase and original furnishings in the high-ceilinged rooms and signature suites of the historic wing. There’s a new wing also with business-style rooms. Bathrooms come equipped with rain showers; suites have free-standing tubs. On the ground floor, the Hansom Lounge that doubles as the reception is a glassed-over section of the original Victorian street where hansoms used to pull up to the train station. The Booking Office restaurant still retains the original ticket windows. The hotel’s most notable dining experience is the Gilbert Scott (dress code), with the best of British cooking recreated by Chantelle Nicholson. Guests are offered complimentary historic tours of the hotel and masterclasses such as paring cured meats and beers. A range of treatments is offered at the hotel spa plus there’s an indoor pool.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

10. The Montague on the Gardens – Bloomsbury

Two-level hotel suite in London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7637 1001
Just around the corner from the British Museum, this Georgian townhouse encloses a luxurious boutique hotel. Brightly patterned wallpaper, luxurious wall fabrics, and hand-crafted furniture decorate the snug rooms. The grandest is the two-room Guv’nor Suite, with its own conservatory and copper bath. Afternoon tea is served in the sunny conservatory, while the smart casual Blue Door Bistro serves mainly Mediterranean dishes. Also on-site, the Garden Grill transforms into a beach bar in summer, complete with palm trees and real sand; in the winter it retains a ski lodge ambiance. Other seasonal perks include tennis viewings in the conservatory accompanied by champagne cocktails during Wimbledon. The Cigar Terrace offers comfortable seating and vintage cigars for connoisseurs; cigar dinners (five-course tasting menu accompanied by cigar tastings) are arranged on request. Pets and families welcome.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

11. ME by Melia – Holborn

Luxury hotel with good views in London.

Hotel phone: +44 207 395 3400
Sleek, monochromatic ME sits right in the midst of West End action – minutes away from theatres and Covent Garden. The hotel has dark, subtly lit corridors and stylish rooms decorated in neutral tones. ME’s most striking feature is the hollow black marble pyramid that cuts through the heart of the hotel and houses the reception area. You can peek down into the pyramid from the Rooftop Radio Bar, renowned for its cocktails, its outdoor terrace overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. DJs play evening sets at the bar from Wednesday to Sunday. Atmospherically-lit STK is the in-house restaurant, specializing in steaks from the UK and the US. Inside ME’s lobby, metal “radio wave” structures pay homage to the hotel building, Marconi House – the former headquarters of the BBC from which the first radio broadcast was made in 1922.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

12. The Rookery – Clerkenwell

Arty hotel in central London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7336 0931
Inside three of the last remaining 18th-century Georgian houses on Peter’s Lane in bustling Clerkenwell, the Rookery is an intimate boutique hotel. Staying here is like staying in your own luxurious, labyrinthine Georgian home, complete with reclaimed wood paneling, antique furniture, and four-posters beds. All rooms are named after Londoners who once lived here. Both the Dr. Theophilus Garencières and the Sir Walter de Manny junior suites feature vintage rolltop baths, throne toilets, and walk-in showers. The grandest feature of the Rook’s Nest two-story penthouse suite is the ornate bed, flanked with gilded blackamoors. To wash, guests step into the vast Victorian bathing machine on a raised plinth. Part of the top floor used to be the servants’ quarters; these rooms are cozy and atmospheric with low ceilings and skylights. Particularly popular with female travelers and couples, this is a quiet retreat where guests read by the roaring fire in the Conservatory and help themselves to drinks at the honesty bar. No elevator.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

13. The Landmark – Marylebone

Historic hotel in London with good location.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7631 8000
A grand, late 19th-century hotel, the Landmark was originally designed for a smooth transition for well-heeled travelers of the “Golden Age of Steam” straight from Marylebone station to their spacious, elegant rooms. The location is an easy walk away from Madame Tussaud’s and the boutiques of Marylebone and Mayfair. The tastefully appointed rooms and suites are among the largest in London and feature king-sized beds, dual sinks in the bathrooms, and deep soaking tubs. The suites are distinguished by their classic Victorian features, white Italian marble bathrooms, and contemporary touches. Inside a soaring 8-story glass-roofed atrium filled with palm trees, the Winter Garden restaurant serves breakfast, afternoon tea, and British dishes with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, while Gazebo is where guests gather for Sunday champagne brunches. With its oak paneling, enormous mirrors, and an extensive wine library, twotwentytwo restaurant and bar is more formal with a classic European menu. Hidden at the back of the hotel is the intimate Mirror Bar, famous for cocktails and fine champagnes. In the basement, guests can make use of the large swimming pool (with daily children’s hours), jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and a well-equipped gym, or else duck into the treatment rooms for a range of massages and facials.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

14. Taj 51 Buckingham Gate – Westminster

Exterior of Taj 51 Buckingham Gate in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7769 7766
The most family-friendly luxury hotel in London, Taj 51 boasts large suites with 1 to 6 bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens plus kids’ amenities and treats. Dining is phenomenal at their Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Quilon and at Kona with its award-winning afternoon tea programs. Other perks include an indulgent spa with traditional Indian therapies and a great location near Buckingham Palace.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

15. The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences – Mayfair

Main entrance of the Athenaeum Hotel in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7930 4843
Family-owned hotel in the heart of Mayfair with art deco rooms and suites and a collection of Victorian townhouses with kitchenettes. Family-friendly amenities include a Children’s Concierge, nanny service, and residences with separate bedrooms and connecting options. The Athenaeum is known for its outstanding afternoon tea, fine dining restaurant, and its luxury spa with cedar soaking tubs and a holistic treatment menu.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

16. Ham Yard Hotel – Soho

Ham Yard boutique hotel in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 3642 2000
Quirky, stylish boutique hotel with a leafy rooftop terrace, an original ’50s bowling alley, a private theater, and a full-service spa. This design-forward hotel features a wild collection of patterns on the walls and textiles, softened with traditional and retro furnishings, and plenty of sunlight. The restaurant and bar menus highlight seasonal British produce (much grown onsite in their garden), award-winning afternoon tea (vegan and gluten-free options), and a seductive bar menu with a special emphasis on martinis and gin cocktails. Tucked away in a quiet courtyard yet steps away from Picadilly Circus, Chinatown, Leicester Square, the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

17. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park – Knightsbridge

The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7201 3773
Breathtaking hotel in a historic Edwardian building, the tallest in London upon its completion in 1889. The hotel features an indoor pool in its extravagant spa, featuring a sanarium, vitality pool, Chinese medicine room, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The restaurant’s culinary program features traditional British fine dining, a gourmet French bistro, all day dining and afternoon tea, along with an innovative cocktail bar. Rooms and suites are decked out in custom-made furnishings inspired by art deco style and the flora of Hyde Park, just steps away. The hotel sits in Knightsbridge on the south side of Hyde Park, within 5 minutes’ walk of designer shopping and 14 minutes’ walk of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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18. Sea Containers London – South Bank

Luxury London hotel on Thames.

Hotel phone: +44 20 3747 1000
With stellar views of the Thames, Sea Containers Hotel sits just a few minutes’ walk from the London Eye, Borough Market, and Globe Theatre. Nautical touches, including the copper-clad ‘ship’s hull’ that encompasses the reception, are meant to convey 1920 cruise ship glamour and to pay homage to the Sea Containers shipping company – the original occupants of the building. Understated, luxurious rooms are decked out with custom-designed furniture, bathrooms with rain showers, and movie-star-dressing-room lights alongside the mirrors. Guests can sample innovative pre-mixed cocktails by award-winning mixologist Mr. Lyan at the Dandelyan Bar and observe chefs at work in the open kitchen of Sea Containers restaurant that specializes in seasonal British and American dishes. The glass-enclosed Rumpus Room rooftop bar has an unobstructed view of London’s landmarks and live jazz Wednesday nights. Children are welcomed with push-scooters, kids’ menus, and a cast-iron swing in the lobby.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

19. The Langham – Kensington

The Langham Hotel in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7636 1000
The extravagant Langham offers a luxury experience with an indulgent Asian-style spa, an indoor swimming pool, and sumptuous dining and drinks. Its Palm Court lounge is believed to be the birthplace of the English afternoon tea tradition, while other culinary options include a French fine dining, a contemporary British tavern, an award-winning bar, and a cooking school. Rooms and suites blend contemporary comforts with a hint of Victorian style; some add deep soaking tubs, private terraces, and butler service. A London landmark since 1865, notable guests include writers Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle along with statesmen Charles de Gaulle and Haile Selassie.
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20. The Milestone Hotel & Residences – Kensington

The Milestone Hotel and Residences in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7917 1000
The historic home of many nobles and ambassadors since the 17th-century, the upscale Milestone Hotel offers a resistance pool, pampering spa, modern British restaurant, an intimate bar, and a sunny conservatory for afternoon tea. Each room, suite, and residence is individually decorated with antique furniture, original art, and always fresh flowers. Studios and suites add 24-hour butler service; connecting rooms and suites can sleep up to 10 guests comfortably. Ideal location overlooking Kensington Gardens, a 5-minute walk to Kensington Palace, a 15-minute walk to the museums of Exhibition Road, and about a 20-minute walk to charming Notting Hill.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

21. The Berkeley – Belgravia

The Berkeley boutique hotel in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7235 6000
Sophisticated yet unstuffy 19th-century hotel with a brand new rooftop pool and garden boasting panoramic views of London. A 5-star property, rooms and suites feature timeless design, luxury bedding, and Italian marble bathrooms. Some suites add private balconies. The bold Grand Pavilion Penthouse offers dramatic views from inside its glass walls and outside its wraparound terrace. Dining is top-notch at both restaurants, wine and cocktails are superb at both bars, and their signature fashion-themed afternoon tea (classes available to learn how to make their decorative sweets). Located at the border of Belgravia and Knightsbridge, surrounded by restaurants, boutiques, and embassies, just 3 minutes’ walk to Hyde Park and 15 minutes’ walk to Buckingham Palace.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

22. Egerton House Hotel – Chelsea

Egerton House Hotel in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7589 2412
Luxurious boutique hotel in a 19th-century townhouse with elegant yet homey rooms and suites, each individually decorated with antique furniture, marble bathrooms and rich textiles finished with fresh flowers. The hotel’s informal dining room and lounge offers 24-hour breakfast, British fare all-day, a well-curated wine selection, and delightful cocktails (martini classes on offer). A highlight is the Egerton House’s afternoon tea with traditional, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, along with their way-too-cute Doggy Afternoon Tea, with homemade treats for pups. The most dog-friendly hotel in London, the Egerton has its own pet concierge, food and water bowls, pet turndown service, dog walking and sitting, and dog room service menus with specially cooked foods.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

23. The Marylebone Hotel – Marylebone

The Marylebone Hotel in London

Hotel phone: +44 20 7486 6600
Sleek, contemporary hotel with an indoor pool, holistic spa, chic brasserie, and a swanky cocktail lounge. Rooms and suites feature understated, modern décor with Italian marble bathrooms with heated floors; top-tier suites add covered terraces with outdoor fireplaces, VIP airport pickup, and in-suite afternoon tea for two. Wonderful location just a 5-minute walk to shopping on Oxford Street, a 10-minute walk to Madame Tussauds, and a 15-minute walk to Regent’s Park and the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

24. W – Leicester Square

Hip, trendy hotel with cool bar and lobby in London.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7758 1000
Right by London’s Chinatown, Soho nightlife, and the red carpet of Leicester Square’s movie premieres, the W hotel manages to be both futuristic and retro at once. Its glass façade is ultra-modern, the reception is all chrome and mirrorballs, with curved furniture and padded walls in the common spaces. Cool Corner rooms feature separate peek-a-boo showers complete with spyhole slits, while suite guests benefit from private steam rooms. Capturing the party vibe of the neighborhood, the Extreme Wow Suite comes with its own DJ station vinyl collection and revolving chesterfield sofa as well as a jacuzzi, while the Screening Suite is equipped with its own private cinema. The Away spa combines Chinese and Japanese relaxation treatments. Anarch-Tea at the Lounge is a fun take on afternoon tea that pays homage to 40 years of punk with its bold cake designs. The Lounge is also the place to fuel up on cocktails before hitting the dance floor at the on-site Room 913 nightclub.
Hotel websiteCheck prices on Booking.com

25. Chiltern Firehouse – Marylebone

Luxury hotel in London with huge bathroom.

Hotel phone: +44 20 7073 7676
All red brick arches and crenellations, the Chiltern Firehouse was the most talked-about London hotel when it opened and instantly became a celeb haunt. The 1890 Victorian firehouse has just 26 exclusive rooms, lofts, and open-plan suites. Each is individually designed in retro style, while each guest is looked after by a personal assistant. All rooms have working fireplaces and spacious marble-floored bathrooms; suites add freestanding tubs. There is no dress code, as guests are encouraged to ‘feel at home’. The open kitchen at the namesake restaurant is overseen by Michelin-starred chef Nuno Mendez who is responsible for the inventive reimagining of European and American classics. Beneath the restaurant is a whimsical smoking terrace; restaurant guests are welcome to linger here with drinks. The Ladder Shed, where firemen used to keep their ladders, has been turned into an attractive bar strewn with wicker chairs and comfy banquettes. Guests are welcome to get behind the decks and spin some records and bartenders mix signature cocktails behind the pink marble bar. Unlike the restaurant, the Ladder Shed is, officially, only for hotel residents and their friends.
Hotel website

Staying in Mayfair and Marylebone

Hotels near Piccadilly Circus and Mayfair in Central London.

Mayfair is one of London’s most exclusive neighborhoods with old-world grandeur present in its beautiful buildings. Edwardian townhouses line Mayfair’s streets and surround its landmark squares – Grosvenor Square, dominated by the US embassy, and Berkeley Square, flanked by original 18th-century terraced houses. Mayfair’s most famous shopping street, Savile Row, is where discerning clients come to get their suits cut at the likes of Henry Poole & Co, who once outfitted Charles Dickens. This is a focal area for British designers, home to Alexander McQueen’s designer wear, while Paul Smith, Browns, and Stella McCartney boutiques flourish in surrounding streets. Along busy Piccadilly road, Mayfair’s southern border, Burlington Arcade (Britain’s first shopping arcade) is every bit as grand as in the 1820s, patrolled by ‘beadles’ in top hats and featuring high-end food shops, fragrance houses, and Italian leatherwear. Further east, Bond Street is lined with high street heavyweights. North of Mayfair, newly fashionable ‘Marylebone village’ attracts both moneyed Londoners and visitors: the latter come to visit Madame Tussaud’s and the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street, the former – for the independent boutiques and upmarket delicatessens such as La Fromagerie along Marylebone Lane.

The Best Hotels in Mayfair and Marylebone

  • The Connaught (best luxury hotel in London)
  • Claridge’s (majestic art deco/Victorian hotel, excellent dining, close to Mayfair shopping)
  • Dorchester (old-world opulence, state-of-the-art mod cons, superb dining)
  • The Landmark (grand Victorian hotel, family-friendly, near attractions)
  • The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences (grand Victorian hotel, family-friendly, near attractions)
  • The Marylebone Hotel (contemporary hotel with an indoor pool and spa, stylish restaurant, and comfortable rooms)
  • Chiltern Firehouse (intimate, buzzy boutique hotel inside historic building, close to shopping)

Best Restaurants in Mayfair and Marylebone

  • Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill (historic restaurant with classic decor, simple, impeccable fish and shellfish dishes)
  • Dinings (innovative Japanese tapas and sushi, stark basement setting, relaxed vibe)
  • Le Gavroche (2 Michelin stars, French haute cuisine by Michel Roux Jr, reserve months in advance)
  • Corrigan’s Mayfair (romantic atmosphere, innovative British dishes using seasonal ingredients, dress code)

Staying in South Bank, Bankside, and London Bridge

Hotels near Tate Modern in South Bank.

Stretching along the south side of the Thames, the two-mile pedestrian walk between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge is an almost non-stop procession of attractions, from historical to post-millennial. The gentrification of the area began in the 1950s to boost public morale after WWII but the South Bank really came into its own in the 21st century with the arrival of several iconic cultural attractions. If you have kids, start at the western end, where they can be entertained by torture, death, and disease at the London Dungeon and sea creatures at the London Aquarium. Next up, the London Eye offers great views of the city on a clear day. Further along, the contemporary art powerhouse, Tate Modern, is flanked by the tiny Bankside Gallery and the rebuilt Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. A food market dating back to the 13th century, Borough Market attracts discerning foodies and London chefs seeking out fresh ingredients for their kitchens. It also has an extensive array of exotic street food stalls – your best bet for lunch. Towering above Borough Market is the jagged glass edifice of the Shard, London’s highest skyscraper, in the nearby London Bridge neighborhood. Pay for the incredible views from the observation deck on the 72nd floor or enjoy slightly less lofty views from Gŏng bar on the 52nd floor for the price of a beer on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays.

Best Hotels in South Bank, Bankside, and London Bridge

Best Restaurants in South Bank, Bankside, and London Bridge

  • Restaurant Story (Michelin-starred Tom Sellers restaurant, playful menu of British seasonal produce, reservations essential)
  • Union Street Café (industrial-meets-classic decor, daily changing Italian menu, dainty portions)
  • Borough Market (gourmet food stalls – from Lebanese meze to Indian to Scandinavian, great for lunch Wed-Sat)
  • Aqua Shard (Modern British cuisine, elegant surroundings, stellar skyscraper views, bookings essential)
  • M. Manze (London’s oldest pie shop, menu dominated by pies and mash, busy, family-friendly)

Staying in Soho and Leicester Square

Hotels in Soho, London

Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, and Regent Street form a rectangle around the dense grid of tiny streets that make up Soho. For a long time, Soho has had a sinful reputation as the city’s red-light district and as a haven for the unconventional: the bulk of London’s gay bars and clubs are still based here. Prostitutes and sex shops are largely gone, replaced by London’s highest concentration of bars, clubs, restaurants specializing in diverse cuisines. Many restaurants are clustered around the leafy Soho Square and Greek Street that leads up to it, while Wardour Street hosts TV production companies. Just south of Shaftesbury Avenue and its grand Victorian theatres is the small, busy Chinatown, its specialty Asian grocery stores attracting chefs and savvy foodies. Many of its restaurants cater to the visiting tourist contingent, but there are a few exceptions serving authentic Cantonese and Sichuan. Bordering Chinatown to the south is Leicester Square, once one of London’s most exclusive addresses and now home to several cinemas. Movie premieres take place at the Odeon Leicester Square; around the corner, Odeon Panton Street attracts film buffs with classics and cult hits. Head south along Charing Cross Road and join art lovers at the National Gallery, or mingle with the crowds and the buskers in front of Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square.

Best Hotels in Soho and Leicester Square

  • Soho Hotel (edgy contemporary hotel, bright colours, family-friendly, near restaurants and nightlife)
  • Ham Yard Hotel (colourful, unique design, friendly service, families welcome, near restaurants)
  • W (retro, monochromatic decor, party hotel, close to nightlife)
  • Z Hotel Soho (compact boutique hotel inside townhouses, luxurious fittings, close to nightlife)

Best Restaurants in Soho and Leicester Square

  • Ceviche Soho (trendy Peruvian eatery, ceviche and anticuchos (skewers) a speciality, buzzy and fun)
  • Patara (high-end Thai dining, excellent service, dinner reservations)
  • Ember Yard (Basque-style grill and Spanish/Italian tapas bar, seasonal ingredients, great for pre-theatre meals)
  • Bao (Taiwanese street-stall-turned-restaurant, bao buns, sliders and other small dishes, lively atmosphere, queues)

Staying in Covent Garden

Hotels near Covent Garden in Central London

Covent Garden is a great neighborhood for first-time visitors to London. It is particularly popular with tourists and reviled by some locals in equal measure for the proliferation of high street chains and the buskers along Bow Street. Its centerpiece is the cobbled Covent Garden Piazza, featuring a restored 19th-century market increasingly filled with high-end boutiques such as Fred Perry and Burberry Brit and a clutch of independent shops selling offbeat jewelry, clothing, and arty gifts. Locals seek out independent shops indicative of Covent Garden’s disappearing quirky character. Neal’s Yard Dairy has long been a purveyor of cheeses by UK’s small, independent producers; Stanford’s on Long Acre is London’s top travel bookstore; and Vintage Showroom stocks vintage menswear. The dining scene leans upmarket with the likes of the Ivy Market Grill and Terroirs competing with mini-chains such as Dishoom and Wahaca. Part of West End and the hub of London’s cultural life, Covent Garden is overlooked by the Royal Opera House, and the surrounding streets are dotted with theaters, from the edgy Donmar Warehouse to the more mainstream Shaftesbury Theatre. Retaining some of its genteel charm and grandeur from centuries past, the Strand runs along Covent Garden’s southern boundary, parallel to the river. It may no longer be ‘the finest street in Europe’, but its western end is lined with several legendary top hotels, as well as the neoclassical Somerset House, home to many London Fashion Week events.

Best Hotels in Covent Garden

  • The Savoy (glitzy old-world opulence, terrific dining, families welcome, close to theatres)
  • ME by Melia in Holborn (minimalist, monochromatic, high-tech rooms, rooftop bar, close to restaurants, theatres)
  • One Aldwych (historic hotel, thoroughly modern rooms, popular with theatre-goers and London Fashion Week)

Best Restaurants Covent Garden

  • Flesh & Buns (industrial-chic basement, upmarket take on Taiwanese hirata buns, rock soundrack, young, trendy)
  • Lima Floral (imaginative Peruvian haute cuisine, excellent cocktails, relaxed ambience)
  • J Sheekey (old-fashioned glamour, fish- and seafood-heavy, great for pre-theatre dining)
  • Terroirs (rustic French dining in basement, casual wine bar with sharing plates, buzzy, hip)
  • Homeslice Pizza (huge wood-fired pizzas with imaginative toppings, trendy decor, families welcome)

Staying in the City of London

Hotels near Bank Tube Station and Saint Paul's

Gleaming corporate towers, such as the Gherkin, the Cheese Grater, and the Walkie Talkie, mark the spot where the Romans founded Londinium 2000 years ago. Stretching from Clerkenwell and Holborn in the west to Tower Hill and Aldgate in the east, the City of London is compressed into a compact area known as the Square Mile. Its streets busy with commuting bankers, traders, and lawyers on weekdays, London’s business district is packed with sights, including the Tower of London. To appreciate the City properly, take a walk around Holborn’s excellent small museums, or head to Clerkenwell, a fashionable locale with a post-industrial feel, to browse the boutiques, food stalls, and restaurants around colorful Exmouth Market. Once synonymous with the printing press, Fleet Street now features some fine art deco buildings from its heyday. It leads towards St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the capital’s most symbolic buildings. South of St Paul’s the pedestrian Millennium Bridge leads across the river to South Bank, while to the east of the cathedral is the immense One New Change shopping mall. The seven streets that meet above Bank tube station mark the heart of the City, fringed by the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, and Mansion House (Lord Mayor of London’s residence). Nearby, the Tower of London showcases the Crown Jewels and recreates the lives of British kings and queens.

Best Hotels in (or near) the City

Best Restaurants in the City

  • Moro (Mediterranean cooking with African twist, post-industrial decor inside Exmouth Market, boisterous atmosphere)
  • Sweetings (classic seafood restaurant popular with business set, top-notch service, ideal for lunch)
  • Duck & Waffle (40th floor views from Heron Tower, small plates of British and European dishes with global touches, 24-hour service)
  • 1 Lombard Street (grand brasserie with Neoclassical interior, meat- and fish-heavy modern European dishes)

Hotels in South Kensington and Chelsea

Hotels in Chelsea and South Kensington near Hyde Park

Compact South Kensington brims with attractions. Three world-class museums line Exhibition Road: Victoria & Albert, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum, while its vast parks include Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, popular with strolling locals, skaters, and cyclists. In the depths of Hyde Park, the Serpentine Gallery hosts contemporary art exhibitions and the park itself has been a traditional venue for protests. Knightsbridge, flanking South Kensington to the east, is where moneyed Londoners shop at the parade of pricey boutiques – Prada, Gucci, Harvey Nichols – that line Sloane Street and where most of London’s embassies cluster along wide, tree-lined avenues. While the legendary Harrods department store on Brompton Road is often overrun with browsing tourists, the fine food halls can be a pleasure to browse during quieter times, and its art gallery is often overlooked. Further south, Chelsea was once synonymous with the Swinging Sixties and immortalized by the punk movement, but today it’s an exclusive residential area, with grand red brick houses lining the cobbled streets, best known for the annual Chelsea Flower Show. Stroll the pedestrian enclave of shops and restaurants at the Duke of York Square, browse the modern art at the Saatchi Gallery or take a stroll to Chelsea Farmers’ Market on Sydney Street.

Best Hotels in South Kensington and Chelsea

  • Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (Far-East themed, old-world luxury, iconic restaurant, close to shopping and Hyde Park)
  • Langham London (historic hotel with excellent dining, an Chinese medicine spa, and an indoor pool)
  • The Milestone Hotel & Residences (hotel in a historic 17th-century residence with a pool, spa, and well-loved afternoon tea)
  • The Berkeley (historic, elegant hotel, Hyde Park views, superb in-house restaurant, rooftop pool, close to designer shops)
  • Egerton House Hotel (boutique hotel in an 18th-century townhouse with comfortable rooms, great martinis, and afternoon tea. Dog friendly)

Best Restaurants in South Kensington and Chelsea

  • Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (2 star Michelin molecular gastronomy, Top 10 restaurants in the world 2015, advance reservations essential)
  • Zuma (ingredient-driven contemporary Japanese cuisine, stylish decor, buzzy and hip)
  • Marcus at The Berkeley (2 star Michelin, romantic, old-world ambience, intelligent British food)
  • Hawksmoor (elegant art deco interior, superb steaks, imaginative cocktails, relaxed and friendly vibe)

Hotels in Westminster and St. James

North entrance of Westminster Abbey with rose window

Westminster has been the hub of political power since the 1200s and is home to historic landmarks, including the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament), Big Ben (the bell inside the world’s most famous clock tower), and Westminster Abbey (a thousand-year-old church where all English and British monarchs have been crowned, 16 royal weddings have been held, and Britain’s most illustrious people have been buried). The neighborhood is bounded by the River Thames to the southeast; Mayfair, Soho, and Leicester Square to the north; and Belgravia to the west. The Queen lives here in Buckingham Palace, surrounded by the lush Buckingham Palace Gardens, St. James Park, and Green Park, while the Prime Minister lives at 10 Downing Street on the opposite side of St. James Park between Trafalgar Square and Big Ben. Art abounds in the Westminster and St. James areas with major galleries such as the Tate Britain seated at the southeast corner and the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery on the north side of Trafalgar Square, along with lesser known art and history museums, such as the Queen’s Gallery Buckingham Palace, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Churchill War Rooms, the Spencer House (built by Princess Diana’s ancestors), and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. Most restaurants in Westminster cater to tourists, though there are a handful of excellent restaurants, bars, and pubs in the St. James neighborhood, near its border with Soho and Leicester Square; standouts include the Regency Cafe (great for brunch) and Aquavit London (fine Scandinavian dining all day).

Best Hotels in Westminster and St. James

  • The Ritz (standard-setting luxury hotel, sumptuous 18th-century-style rooms, near Buckingham Palace)
  • Taj 51 Buckingham Gate (family-friendly, luxury hotel with spacious 1-6 bedroom suites with kitchenettes)

Best Restaurants in Westminster and St. James

  • Regency Cafe (mid-century cafe in an art deco style known for hearty, down home English breakfast and brunch)
  • Aquavit London (Michelin-starred, contemporary, Nordic cuisine from noon to midnight)

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  1. Trip to London and Paris

    I am planning a trip for two to London and possibly Paris for mid-late September. First time visit. Looking at 9 days total. Will be using American Airlines vouchers for part of the trip costs, so will be booking through AA Vacations. Was looking at Fielding Hotel in Covent Garden for majority of the trip, then taking the EuroStar to Paris for a day or two, then return to London for the flight back to the US. Would it be too difficult to try to fit the last couple of days for Paris, including the EuroStar round trip, plus checking in and out of a Paris hotel? Any recommendation for a short stay hotel for a first time visit to Paris? A consideration is that one of the travelers has issues with getting around due to arthritis.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Sounds like a great trip and easily doable. Stay near St Pancras Station in London (for easy access to the Eurostar train to Paris) and Gare du Nord in Paris (where the Eurostar arrives).

  2. Hotel Recommendations for London

    Followed your advise in Greece last year with family (Aria Suites and The Belvedere) and both recommendations were amazing. My husband and I are headed to London to see a concert in Hyde Park in July. We’d like a great hotel with pool and workout facility. We’d love to be somewhere on the water. What hotel would you suggest?

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      There are several hotels that fit the bill, all on the banks of the River Thames.

      Park Plaza Westminster Bridge would probably be my top choice. It’s in South Bank, across the river from the Houses of Parliament, right near major attractions such as the London Eye and a short walk to the London underground. Facilities include a fitness gym and a medium-sized indoor pool.

      Another solid choice would be Park Plaza London Riverbank, also across the river from Westminster and in the same price category, but not quite as convenient for public transport as the Westminster Bridge hotel. Good 24-hour fitness center with TechnoGym equipment and a small, 12m indoor pool.

      Finally, there’s the Novotel London Canary Wharf – innovative design, state-of-the-art fitness centre, decent-sized pool and good on-site dining. It’s further out of the center than the other two, but near a London underground station.

  3. Hotel 41 in London

    What are your thoughts on Hotel 41?

    Thanks

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Hotel 41 is a 5-star boutique hotel inside a well-maintained Edwardian building – great for people who love quirky old buildings, though the soundproofing of the rooms could be better. This is an old-school hotel in a busy central location; the road it’s on is rather noisy, but then so is much of central London. It’s near Victoria station – useful for train and Underground connections and within walking distance of several major London attractions, such as Buckingham Palace. There’s a black-and-white theme to the 41 rooms and suites and each room is individually decorated, with extra care given to creature comforts – superior beds, high quality furnishings, etc. The service is personalised and attentive. The staff really get to know you and anticipate your needs – most guests love this, but if it’s not something you’re used to, it might feel a little intrusive. The on-site dining is excellent: The Curry Room (Indian food), The English Grill (meat-heavy fine dining), bbar (burgers and cocktails) and Leopard Champagne Bar (champagne & light meals); there’s also an honesty bar and complimentary snacks around the clock (Plunder the Pantry). It’s an excellent place for families with children: there are separate children’s menus, children’s beds, welcome packs and a hotel nanny service. So overall – it’s not cheap, but the location is great, the service and amenities are excellent, it suits business and leisure travellers, families with children and people looking for a place with real character.

  4. Best Hotels in Bloomsbury London

    Can you recommend a good hotel in Bloomsbury? Mid-range, 3 or 4 star hotel. And also, is Bloomsbury a good area to see the sights of London? We’ll have 4 nights there and want to hit most of the top tourist attractions.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Yes, Bloomsbury is a central neighbourhood with excellent public transport connections, which makes it easy to visit London’s top attractions, and four days is a good amount of time to visit the top spots. One of them, the British Museum, is in Bloomsbury, and others, such as Covent Garden, Oxford Street, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, are within walking distance (or a short London Underground ride if you prefer not to walk).

      Good hotels in Bloomsbury:
      Ambassadors Bloomsbury – bright, contemporary rooms inside a 19th century Victorian building, helpful staff, Italian restaurant-cum-bar
      Radisson Blu Edwardian, Bloomsbury Street – literary-themed hotel around the corner from the British Museum, bold contemporary design, friendly service, good gym, spacious rooms with marble bathrooms, Steak & Lobster restaurant on-site
      My Bloomsbury – boutique hotel inside a Georgian townhouse, simple, stylish rooms – dark wood, cream walls, mini-spa offering massages and facials, retro diner downstairs, short walk from Soho’s bars and restaurants
      Montague On The Gardens – also in a Georgian townhouse, with 88 individually designed, mid-sized rooms, very convenient for the British Museum, known for its traditional afternoon teas
      The Bloomsbury – more upscale than the others, rooms blend classic British furniture with luxurious textiles and all sorts of mod cons, marble bathrooms, refined atmosphere, stylish cocktail bar and afternoon tea, short walk from Covent Garden

  5. 3 Days in London – Best Central Hotels

    Looking for a boutique hotel in London with the following attributes: trendy, fun, centrally located, good bar onsite or very close by, 4 or 5 star.
    Thanks,
    Owen

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      The one that immediately comes to mind is Soho Hotel. It’s colourful, has individually decorated rooms designed by owner/interior designer Kit Kemp, quirky touches in the drawing room where guests can chill out, a 24-hour honour bar in case you and your fellow guests want a drink in the wee hours of the morning, a well-stocked on-site bar that’s part of the hotel restaurant, and a great location in the middle of Soho, surrounded by bars, pubs and restaurants.

      Then there’s its sister hotel, the Ham Yard, also in Soho, so also in the midst of London’s nightlife, but closer to Mayfair – one of London’s most upmarket neighbourhoods. It’s bigger than Soho Hotel, but the concept is similar: funky wallpaper, individually-styled rooms, an on-site bar and rooftop terrace, and fun touches, such as a 1950s style bowling alley.

      Another fun boutique place is The W, just off Leicester Square that borders Soho. It’s got this look that’s both retro and futuristic – all chrome and mirrorballs in the lobby, well-stocked downstairs bar and bright, compact rooms. The suites are even better – the Extreme Wow Suite has its own DJ station and vinyl collection, the Screening suite comes with its own private cinema; both come with private steam rooms. It’s a party hotel popular with young professionals.

      ME by Melia, near Covent Garden – within easy walking distance from the bars and pubs of Soho and Covent Garden, has an excellent rooftop bar with great views of the Thames and the London skyline. Excellent cocktails, too. Rooms are minimalist and monochromatic, and one of the hotel’s cool features is a black marble pyramid that cuts right through the middle of the hotel.

      It’s hard to get more trendy than the Chiltern Firehouse – it’s in the Marylebone neighbourhood, it’s inside a revamped Victorian fire station, has just 26 rooms and open-plan suites, and is a bit of a celeb haunt. The Ladder Bar – the space where the firemen used to keep their ladders – is exclusively for hotel guests and their friends – it’s all comfy wicker chairs, signature cocktails served by bartenders and DJ decks for guest use. And it’s not stuffy at all – there’s no dress code, and guests are made to ‘feel at home’. There’s no smoking at the bar, but they do have a whimsical smoking terrace outside.

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