Welcome to my collection of special places to stay in London
I’m always on the lookout for the best London hotels – and I happen to be very picky. In a city with more residents than most European countries have citizens, the choice is wide, the budget gap wider.
But all of these special places to stay have been hand tested: pillows fluffed, beds slept in, breakfasts munched and showers fully sung in. I don’t claim to love them all equally but what I will say is that I’d recommend everything here.
If something isn’t good enough, it doesn’t make the cut. That’s just the way it is.
So read up and enjoy one of the greatest cities on earth (although, as a Londoner by birth, I’ll admit I’m a little bit biased.)
NEAR SOUTH KENSINGTON AND THE MUSEUMS
Bare brick and white walls mingle with midnight blue velvet, hot pink cherry blossom and toy-box green while musical notes dance across cushion covers and chunky wooden ampersand figures look down at you from the shelves.
An original Victorian terrace with high ceilings and dizzyingly elegant staircases that embraces bright, contemporary colours. Designed to look good on an instagram feed.
In a quiet street in a great big city, The Arch Hotel goes about its business. Bursting with flowers, plush sofas and strange mirrors, it’s a boutique hotel that’s paid attention to design without losing its focus on the hospitality that matters.
Number One Aldwych occupies the number one spot, a member of Leading Hotels of the World that rises into its corner location and provides great views from top rooms across the Thames. The real charm of Aldwych, though, is its easy access to London’s so-called West End (another historical naming riddle) being within just a whisper of Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House and a short walk from there into Leicester Square and SoHo.
Hipster cool with plenty of quirky decor that makes you feel more fashionable just by looking at it. Expect sweet jars, bare brick walls, shabby-chic turquoise tables and retro telephones that may make you realise just how old you really are…Get inspired at The Artist's Residence.
EGERTON HOUSE HOTEL
NEAR KNIGHTSBRIDGE & HARRODS
There are hotels. And then there are hotels. Places so imaginative, so extraordinary and so unusual that they stand out as experiences in their own right. The Egerton Hotel in Knightsbridge, London, is one of those hotels. Twenty-eight rooms squeeze into Italian fabric in this London townhouse, while bartenders rustle up cosmopolitans, chat and cheer even in the thick of a grey London gloom.
CONRAD LONDON ST JAMES,
NEAR WESTMINSTER AND BIG BEN
The Conrad London (technically the Conrad London St James Hotel) has all you’d expect from a classical luxury London hotel. Creams, golds, attentive service, fast wifi, in-room coffee units and an impressive concierge.
The Blue Boar Bar Restaurant, on the other hand, delivers a a deliciously devilish look into British politics – and a mean display of British condiments to boot.
Z SHOREDITCH HIPSTER HOTEL,
near shoreditch, hoxton and old street
It takes a little while to appreciate what Z Shoreditch gets right.
Not because things go wrong, at all, but more in the self-confident way the hotel knows just who it’s for – and who it’s not.
It prides itself on affordable luxury – a much maligned phrase – but here’s how Z Shoreditch interprets it.
London Bridge, London
LONDON BRIDGE HOTEL,
NEAR LONDON BRIDGE, THE SHARD AND SOUTHBANK
London Bridge Hotel is a comfortable, stylish independent four star boutique hotel decked out in plums, scarlet, jet black and white. While not the most luxurious property in London, it does excel within its four star bracket. It’s a short walk from the well-connected London Bridge station, as well as a flotilla of international restaurants and plenty of chances for sightseeing.
BERMONDSEY SQUARE HOTEL,
BERMONDSEY AND THE DESIGN MUSEUM
Rooms are squeaky clean and white, with flashes of hot, hot pink. I stayed in the Woolyard suite, complete with spacious balcony, an unusual find for a London hotel and one that the rain stopped me from testing.
Craft breweries, hand-crafted design stores and sepia antique shops line the narrow streets that lead between the Fashion & Textiles Museum and the Design Museum on the brink of the Thames.
THE PULLMAN HOTEL,
NEAR KING'S CROSS AND THE BRITISH LIBRARY
Energetic open plan area taking in the library, restaurant, bar and reception desk. If travelling alone, this buzz gives a sense of life and if not, it’s a great place to meet. The rooms are decked out in clean, international lines but despite the outside hubbub, are blissfully soundproofed.
THE CAVENDISH HOTEL,
NEAR MAYFAIR AND PICCADILLY
The Cavendish is a 4 star hotel situated in the swish part of London, just behind Fortnum & Mason. Each of its 230 rooms have fast wifi (at a price), a widescreen TV and a sumptuous bathroom and double bed with striking colours, modern furnishings and plenty of space (on a London scale.)
The best part of this hotel is the London skyline visible from many of the rooms: Big Ben and his brothers. Beautiful.