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, bar, and the gym and Infinity Skypool on the 52nd floor offer unparalleled panoramic views of the city. Decorated in tones cream, grey and blue and livened up with contemporary art, the rooms contain king-sized beds, binoculars and espresso makers.
Marble bathrooms are equipped with Washlet toilets and Acqua di Parma toiletries, and 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, with guests given the option to pick ingredients of their choice at nearby Borough Market, while LÁNG deli serves home-made chocolates and signature cakes.
The GŎNG bar on the 52nd floor serves classic English afternoon tea and makes an excellent place for a sundowner.
Its signature drinks include the Yuzu Martini and Rosemary Bubbles. Hotel phone: +44 20 7234 8000. Good Nearby Restaurants: Oblix (great views, meat lovers, dress code) • Hutong (lofty views, contemporary Northern Chinese, smart casual)
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 sumptuous, traditional rooms designed by Guy Oliver all hark back to the days when the hotel’s guests included French president Charles de Gaulle.
By contrast, the rooms in the new wing are bright, contemporary and somewhat oriental in design; bathroom features include Japanese Toto heated toilet seats. Families are accommodated in interconnecting rooms, with homemade treats for kids, child-friendly menu, a selection of children’s books and the twice-daily, family-only swimming sessions at the Aman Spa swimming pool. The celebrated in-house dining options include the two Michelin-starred Hélène Darroze which serves some of the best French cuisine in London underneath two works by Damien Hurst.
Guests pick up to nine key ingredients and let the chef surprise them. Traditional afternoon tea is served in the light-filled conservatory. The Connaught Bar, named Best Bar in the World in 2015 and famous for its signature Connaught Martini, runs cocktail masterclasses, overseen by award-winning mixologist Agostino Perrone.
Hotel phone: +44 20 7499 7070. Good Nearby Restaurants: Scott’s (fine dining, seafood-heavy, champagne bar, smart casual) • The Square (2 star Michelin, contemporary European, extensive wine list, relaxed ambiance).
Tucked away in a cul-de-sac, this boutique hotel is right in the heart of Soho, with excellent dining and nightlife right on its doorstep but soundproofed against the street noise. The entire hotel is permeated with bright colours and quirky, playful touches that the interior designer and co-owner Kit Kemp is known for, from the bold mural behind the bar and the oil can arrangement in the restaurant to the Botero cat sculpture in the lobby.
All rooms were individually designed by Ms Kemp, and feature bright, eye-catching wallpaper, a signature mannequin in each room and a striped umbrella in each wardrobe. Some rooms are interconnected to accommodate families. Bathrooms have free-standing tubs, his-and-hers sinks and Rik Rak toiletries.
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 and there’s a separate children’s menu. Hotel phone: +44 20 7292 6100. Good Nearby Restaurants: Princi (Milanese artisan bakery, wood-fired pizzas, relaxed, casual ambience) • Quo Vadis (classic British food with French influences, seafood and game, romantic dining, smart casual).
With stellar views of the Thames, Sea Containers Hotel (formerly the Mondrian) sits on the pedestrian riverside path, a few minutes’ walk from the London Eye, Borough Market, Globe Theatre and Tate Modern. Nautical touches, from the copper-clad ‘ship’s hull’ that encompasses the reception, to the lobby sculpture of a chain link, are meant to convey 1920 cruise ship glamour and to pay homage to the Sea Containers shipping company – the original occupants of the building.
Designed by American architect Warren Platner in the 1970s, the hotel was completed by British designer Tom Dixon and embodies both cultures. Crimson accents and copper lighting features contrast with the neutral tones and sleek design of the understated, luxurious rooms. Each room is decked out with custom-designed furniture, including the signature chairs designed by Dixon and Platner.
Bathrooms feature rain showers, Malin + Goetz toiletries 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 Wednesday is live jazz night. Children are made to feel welcome with push-scooters, kids’ menu and a cast-iron swing in the lobby.
Hotel phone: +44 20 3747 1000. Good Nearby Resturants: OXO Tower Restaurant (iconic location, modern British cuisine with global influences, afternoon tea) • Skylon (modern European, river views, trendy cocktail bar, split between brasserie and fine dining restaurant).
Sleek, monochromatic ME is just five years old and 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.
All rooms come with integrated digital media hubs, and contemporary bathrooms with rain showers. 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 ME’s in-house dining option, 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 phone: +44 207 395 3400. Good Nearby Restaurants: The Delaunay (grand European café, Viennese-style afternoon tea, friendly atmosphere),• ROKA Aldwych (contemporary Japanese, rustic dining room, open-grill kitchen, relaxed ambience).
Inside three of the last remaining 18th-century Georgian houses on Peter’s Lane in bustling Clerkenwell, with its medieval lanes and excellent dining, the Rookery is an intimate boutique hotel that has replaced the thief-and-whore-filled slums that the area was once famous for.
Staying here is like staying in your own luxurious, labyrinthine Georgian home, complete with reclaimed wood paneling, antique furniture, four-posters beds and statues in the bathrooms. 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 with Ren toiletries.
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, and the rooms are snug 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 phone: +44 20 7336 0931. Good Nearby Restaurants: St John (innovative British dining, meat-heavy, ‘nose to tail dining’ concept, relaxed atmosphere) • The Fable (fairytale decor, seasonal British all-day menu, creative cocktails).
From the splendor of its Long Gallery, hung with rococo mirrors and chandeliers, to the liveried doormen, 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 VIPs, from numerous royals, movie stars and politicians to Noel Coward.
Winston Churchill and Eisenhower met in the Maria Antoinette Suite during WWII to discuss strategy and recently, an episode of “Downton Abbey” was shot in the Ritz Restaurant.
Conceived by London- and Paris-based designers, the high-ceilinged rooms are decorated in classic Louis XVI style, in subtle pink, blue, yellow and peach, the picture of opulence completed with ornate antique furnishings and heavy silk drapes. The three Signature Suites come with butler service. Melding frescoed, marbled opulence with haute cuisine, 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, greenery-festooned Palm Court to the accompaniment of the resident pianist who used to play with Frank Sinatra. Dress code throughout.
Hotel phone: +44 20 7493 8181. Good Nearby Restaurants: Le Caprice (legendary Art Deco setting, contemporary European bistro, elegant yet casual atmosphere) • Franco’s (upscale Italian dining, pre-theatre menus, smart casual, booking essential).
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.
Reflecting the Savoy’s historical influences, the rooms are either English Edwardian or Art Deco in design, though both come with thoroughly modern bathrooms and rain showers. Guests staying in the suites are waited on by butlers. Family vacation packages, amenities for kids and adjoining rooms are some of the family-friendly features. Fine dining is very much part of the Savoy experience.
Choose between Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill for classic British cuisine with French touches (dress code), a roast dinner at Simpson’s-on-the-Strand or seafood creations at the informal Kaspar Bar and Grill, amidst Art Deco surroundings. 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 with the icicle-like Lalique-style bar that serves original liquid creations. In the lobby you can spot the sculpture of Kaspar the cat, who stands in as the 14th guest to ward off bad luck if a dinner party only has 13 guests.
Hotel phone: +44 20 7836 4343.
Good Nearby Restaurants: Fernandez & Wells (Spanish-style food-and-wine bar, tapas, meat-heavy, good value, intimate and friendly atmosphere) • Rules (18th century restaurant with Old World decor, classic British dishes, game-heavy, refined ambience).
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, along with high-tech features such as iPod docking stations. The service is discreet and attentive.
Those staying in either the regular suites, individually designed by the likes of David Linley (the Queen’s grandson) and Diane von Furstenberg, 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. Guests are encouraged to wander into the kitchen to watch the chefs at work or even to dine there.
If you want to learn to carve a leg of lamb or make traditional British puddings, you can take part in specially arranged masterclasses. Afternoon tea in the sumptuous Grand Foyer is a highlight for guests and non-guests alike. Claridge’s Bar is the place to sample vintage champagnes and some of the world’s best wines, while the art deco Fumoir is a dark, seductive space to retreat to for a signature cocktail, such as the Black Pearl.
Hotel phone: +44 20 7629 8860. Good Nearby Restaurants: Umu (2 Michelin stars, high-end Japanese dining, ingredient-driven dishes, reservations essential) • Browns (British brasserie, locally sourced ingredients, popular afternoon tea, casual setting).
Right by London’s Chinatown, Soho nightlife and the red carpet of Leicester Square’s movie premieres, American import W manages to be both futuristic and retro at the same time. Its glass façade is ultra-modern, the reception is all chrome and mirrorballs, with curved furniture and padded walls in the common spaces.
Its rooms are true to the hotel’s ‘studio style’ concept, meaning the entrance to the bedrooms in the Wonderful, Spectacular and Fabulous rooms lies through open-plan bathrooms (with powerful monsoon showers) and the central island plays the role of washbasin, shelving and desk at the same time. Cool Corner rooms are the exception, their separate peek-a-boo showers complete with spyhole slits, while suite guests benefit from private steam rooms.
Capturing the party vibe of this part of town, 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 white, cocoon-like Away spa combines Chinese and Japanese relaxation treatments with signature facials by Su-Man. 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 phone: +44 20 7758 1000. Good Nearby Restaurant: The Palomar (creative Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine, open kitchen, playful decor and ambience).
A London landmark in every possible way, St Pancras Renaissance is a hotel that’s both historic and new. It has arisen from the ashes of the 19th century Midland Grand, a Victorian railway hotel whose imposing red brick Gothic Revival façade blends effortlessly with that of the St Pancras International railway station.
Gone out of business in 1933, the English Heritage building served as a backdrop in Harry Potter movies and a Spice Girls’ video before reopening as the Renaissance in 2011. Beautifully restored, it retains many of its original 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 that serves classic British dishes and Victorian punchbowl drinks 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 Journeys treatments is offered at the hotel spa and there’s an indoor pool.
Hotel phone: +44 20 7841 3540.
Good Nearby Restaurants: Mi + Me (signature deli sandwiches, locally-sourced ingredients, craft beers, trendy, busy) • Plum and Spilt Milk (grand old railway restaurant ambience, classic British dishes, ingredient-driven menu).
Just around the corner from the British Museum, this Georgian townhouse encloses a luxurious boutique hotel. From the lounge with its ceiling frescoes and chandeliers to the individually decorated rooms and suites, the decor is old-world opulence blended with contemporary touches.
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 ambience. 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 phone: +44 20 7637 1001. Good Nearby Restaurants: Great Court Restaurant (seasonal British cuisine inside British Museum, afternoon tea, elegant ambience) • Abeno (inexpensive, authentic Japanese food, okonomiayaki speciality, casual and popular).
At an exclusive Park Lane address, overlooking Hyde Park, the opulently classical Dorchester has been attracting royalty, Hollywood actors and political leaders such as Eisenhower 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 spacious, elegant rooms are decorated in neutral tones, with hand-picked antique furniture and specially commissioned fabrics.
The suites have recently been revamped by designer Alexandra Champalimaud, using fabrics by the likes of Coles and Son and signed prints by Prince Charles. 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 the art deco China Tang, while in the spite of the Scottish theme, The Grill serves solidly British classics. Tipples at The Bar include wines that span the world, plenty of Scottish whiskies and an impressive range of cocktails.
The futuristic Dorchester Spa in the basement rejuvenates guests with signature facials by Carol Joy London and anti-ageing techniques by La Prairie. Hotel phone: +44 20 7629 8888. Good Nearby Restaurants: Nobu (legendary high-end Japanese dining, dress code, reservations essential) • Cut at 45 Park Lane (high-end, modern American steakhouse, legendary chef, superb wine list).
All red brick arches and crenellations, the Chiltern Firehouse was the most talked about London hotel to have opened in 2014 and instantly became a celeb haunt. The 1890 Victorian firehouse has had a new wing added by American hotelier André Balzacs of Chateau Marmont.
Inside there are just 26 exclusive rooms, lofts and open-plan suites. Each is individually designed in retro style, comfortable without over-the-top ostentatiousness, and each guest is looked after by a personal assistant. All room have working fireplaces and spacious marble-floored bathrooms; suites come with 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 inventive reimagining of European and American classics.
All the restaurant tables are a little different in size and look; this is a place to be seen as much as to dine. Beneath the restaurant is whimsical smoking terrace; restaurant guests are welcome to linger here with drinks. The Ladder Shed, the space where firemen used to keep their ladders, has been turned into an attractive bar, strewn with custom-made 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 phone: +44 20 7073 7676. Good Nearby Restaurants: Reubens (Kosher cafeteria, deli and restaurant, hearty meaty fare, sandwiches, casual vibe) • Royal China Club (high-end Cantonese mini-chain, imaginative dim sum, refined ambience).
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 façade is imposing red brick Gothic Revival, and 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, with classic cream and duck-egg-blue decor, king-sized beds, heavy silk drapes and huge flat-screen TVs. The bathrooms come equipped with his and hers sinks and deep bathtubs.
The suites are distinguished by their classic Victorian features, white Italian marble bathrooms and contemporary touches – from Nespresso machines to iHome systems. Of the hotel’s dining venues, the Winter Garden is particularly striking. Inside the soaring 8-story glass-roofed atrium filled with palm trees, it serves breakfast, afternoon tea and British dishes with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, while the elevated 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 and the menu is classic European. Hidden at the back of the hotel is the intimate Mirror Bar, famous for its 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 phone: +44 20 7631 8000. Good Nearby Restaurants: Opso (creative Greek-inspired food, small dishes, stylish, trendy) • Fischer’s (classic Austrian dishes, old-world Vienna vibe, meat lovers, cakes, friendly atmosphere).
The Best London Hotels / TRAVEL EXCLUSIVE NEWS / By Jannifer Bar / New York