• Best Hotel: Connaught
• Boutique Hotel: Soho Hotel
• 4-Star Hotel: Marylebone
• 3-Star Hotel: Strand Palace
• Cheap Hotel: Z Hotel Soho
• Family Hotel: Taj 51
• Hotel Swimming Pool: Berkeley
• Near Big Ben: Conrad
• Hyde Park: Mandarin Oriental
• London Eye: Marriott
• Buckingham Palace: Goring
• Victoria Station: Comfort Inn
• Paddington Station: Hilton
• Kings Cross: Renaissance
London Hotels – Tips & Recommendations
- London is one of my favorite cities in Europe. So much to see and do! A first time visitor could easily fill a week of sightseeing in London, but at the very least, plan for a 4-night visit.
- Booking.com – The best site for booking hotels in London.
- Best Luxury Hotels in London: Connaught • Shangri-La • Savoy • Four Seasons at Park Lane • Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
- Best Boutique Hotels in London: Soho • Montague on the Gardens • Mandrake • Batty Langley’s
- Best London Hotels for Families: Taj 51 Buckingham Gate • Athenaeum • Connaught
- Best Cheap Hotels in London: Clink78 Hostel • SoHostel
- London Hotels with Swimming Pools: Connaught • Shangri La at the Shard • St. Pancras Renaissance • Landmark • Berkeley • One Aldwych • The Marylebone • Jumeirah Carlton Tower • Marriott County Hall • Marriott Park Lane • Canary Riverside Plaza Hotel • Dolphin House Serviced Apartments • Best Western Chiswick Palace & Suites • Staycity Aparthotels Greenwich High Road
- London Hotels with Kitchens: Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences • Athenaeum • Cheval Knightsbridge • Cheval Harrington Court at South Kensington • Park Plaza Westminster Bridge • The Grand at Trafalgar Square • Staybridge Suites Vauxhall
- London Hotels with Parking: Windmill On The Common (free parking) • Fox & Goose (free parking) • DoubleTree By Hilton Excel (free parking) • The Lodge (free parking) • Prince Regent Excel (free parking) • Holiday Inn Express Newbury Park (5 GBP)
- Best London Airport Hotels: Hilton Heathrow (direct access to Heathrow) • Hampton Gatwick (direct access to Gatwick)
- London Choice Hotels – cheap and moderately priced hotels in and around London.
- Best London neighborhoods for first time visitors: Mayfair • Marylebone • Soho • Covent Garden – all are central, safe, and have easy access to restaurants and attractions.
- Best Hotels in Central London: All the hotels listed below are located in central London and close to top sights and tourist attractions.
The 26 Best Hotels in London
1. Connaught – Mayfair
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 website • Check prices for Connaught
2. Four Seasons at Park Lane – Mayfair
Hotel phone: +44 20 7499 0888
Awesome location between the luxury departments stores of Kensington, Hyde Park, the shops of Oxford Street, and Buckingham Palace. Suites have superb views over the city. Restaurants and nightlife are minutes from the front door. The rooftop spa is fantastic.
• Hotel website • Check prices for Four Seasons at Park Lane
3. Shangri-La at the Shard – London Bridge
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 website • Check prices for Shangri-La at the Shard
4. Soho Hotel – Soho
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 website • Check prices for Soho Hotel
5. Savoy – Covent Garden
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 website • Check prices for Savoy
6. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park – Knightsbridge
Hotel phone: +44 20 7201 3773
Recently refurbished and now more breathtaking than ever the hotel occupies a historic Edwardian building, the tallest in London upon its completion in 1889. There’s an indoor pool and wonderful spa, (featuring an amethyst crystal steam room, a sanarium, and a Pilates studio) 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 a 5 minutes walk of desinger shopping and a 15-minute walk of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
• Hotel website • Check prices for Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
7. Claridge’s – Mayfair
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.
• Hotel website • Check prices for Claridge’s
8. Dorchester – Mayfair
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 website • Check prices for Dorchester
9. St. Pancras Renaissance – Camden
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 website • Check prices for St. Pancras Renaissance
10. Montague on the Gardens – Bloomsbury
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 website • Check prices for Montague on the Gardens
11. ME by Melia – Holborn
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 website • Check prices for ME by Melia
12. Rookery – Clerkenwell
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 website • Check prices for Rookery
13. Landmark – Marylebone
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 website • Check prices for Landmark
14. Taj 51 Buckingham Gate – Westminster
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.
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15. Athenaeum Hotel & Residences – Mayfair
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 website • Check prices for Athenaeum Hotel & Residences
16. Ham Yard – Soho
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 website • Check prices for Ham Yard
17. Ritz – St. James
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.
• Hotel website • Check prices for Ritz
18. Sea Containers – South Bank
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 website • Check prices for Sea Containers
19. Langham – Kensington
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.
• Hotel website • Check prices for Langham
20. Milestone – Kensington
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 website • Check prices for Milestone
21. Berkeley – Belgravia
Hotel phone: +44 20 7235 6000
Sophisticated yet unstuffy 19th-century hotel with a beautiful 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 website • Check prices for Berkeley
22. Egerton House – Chelsea
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 website • Check prices for Egerton House
23. The Marylebone – Marylebone
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 website • Check prices for The Marylebone
24. W London – Leicester Square
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 website • Check prices for W London
25. Chiltern Firehouse – Marylebone
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
26. Batty Langley’s – Spitalfields
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 website • Check prices for Batty Langley’s
Staying in Mayfair and Marylebone
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
- Connaught (best luxury hotel in London)
- Four Seasons at Park Lane (5-star, great location & views)
- 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)
- Landmark (grand Victorian hotel, family-friendly, near attractions)
- Athenaeum Hotel & Residences (grand Victorian hotel, family-friendly, near attractions)
- The Marylebone (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
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
- Shangri-La at the Shard (superb skyscraper views, contemporary rooms, family-friendly, excellent dining)
- Sea Containers (riverside views, minimalist rooms, contemporary design, terrific bars)
- Marriott County Hall (superb riverside location, close to attractions, modern decor, family-friendly)
- Park Plaza Westminster Bridge (contemporary, design-led hotel, sleek room, close to attractions)
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
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 (edgy contemporary hotel, bright colours, family-friendly, near restaurants and nightlife)
- Ham Yard (colourful, unique design, friendly service, families welcome, near restaurants)
- W London (retro, monochromatic decor, party hotel, close to nightlife)
- Z Soho (compact boutique hotel inside townhouses, luxurious fittings, close to nightlife)
Best Restaurants in Soho and Leicester Square
- Ceviche (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
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
- 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
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
- Rookery in Clerkenwell (intimate boutique hotel, antique furnishings, romantic, close to restaurants)
- Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square (fantastic luxury hotel steps from the Tower of London)
- Andaz Liverpool Street (grand, revamped railway hotel, simple, stylish rooms, good in-house dining)
- Threadneedles (former-bank-turned-boutique-hotel, contemporary rooms, excellent restaurant, close to landmarks)
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
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 (historic hotel with excellent dining, an Chinese medicine spa, and an indoor pool)
- The Milestone Kensington (hotel in a historic 17th-century residence with a pool, spa, and well-loved afternoon tea)
- Berkeley (historic, elegant hotel, Hyde Park views, superb in-house restaurant, rooftop pool, close to designer shops)
- Egerton House (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
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
- 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)
- Goring (wonderful historic hotel near Buckingham Palace, afternoon tea is a must)
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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