Set on the fringe of the City of London district, the Barbican Centre is a magnet for travellers looking to immerse themselves in the creative arts. Many hotels have popped up around this metropolitan landmark, offering a place to unwind after a night spent relishing the refined delights of this buzzing arts venue.
As one of the capital’s leading centres for art, dance, film, theatre and music, London’s iconic Barbican Centre draws audiences from all over the world – as well as architecture buffs who come to admire the striking Brutalist architecture. It’s located on the cusp of the East End, in the creative neighbourhood of Clerkenwell, which is home to many leading design agencies. Here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the best hotels near the Barbican Centre.
Don’t mistake South Place Hotel’s sleek minimalism for simplicity. Bedrooms are understated with subtle sci-fi details such as webbed orb chandeliers, touch-panel mood lighting and smooth tulip chairs. There is also plenty of flair at this East London hotel, including a spa with soothing holistic treatments and Michelin-star restaurant Angler. Spend your evenings in one of three bars and lounges, like the suave Le Chiffre that exudes the same sleek sophistication as its Bond villain namesake with a black marble bar and slate-grey pool table. The real show-stopper however, is definitely the Secret Garden Bar – an Eden of overhanging foliage, glowing lights and botanical cocktails. It’s got “date night” written all over it.
Just 10 minutes from the Barbican Centre, this undeniably luxurious hotel has been pulling in fans of the finer things in life for years. Expect to find elegant Georgian decor oozing out of every gilded fibre – rooms are furnished with pillowy sofas, antique tables and 17th-century carved oak beds, with a palette of deep emeralds and rich violets adding an aristocratic backdrop. Take a long soak in a cavernous freestanding tub or grab a good book and make the most of the well-stocked honesty bar down in the vintage setting of the conservatory.
The Apex London Wall Hotel may be corporate but still manages to feel boutique thanks to its friendly staff and hearty all-day menu. A true reflection of the surrounding city, rooms stick to a clean-cut aesthetic – restrained neutral tones are complemented by pops of bold blue, and amenities like 49-inch Smart TVs and walk-in showers add a luxury edge. If you plump for one of the top-floor rooms, you’ll also be rewarded with a rooftop view and a balcony from which to enjoy it. Close to the Financial District, it’s also perfect for those in town on business, and a nifty 10-minute walk from the Barbican Centre through the City.
Besides being a 10-minute walk from the Barbican Centre, the Malmaison is within strolling distance of the endlessly fascinating Smithfield Market. Inside, you’ll find a dynamic mix of warm colours and textures, from velvet-clad headboards and marble tabletops to retro armchairs. The restaurant Chez Mal Brasserie offers up an enticing à la carte menu – any dedicated carnivore will relish their signature self-titled burger with gruyere cheese, while vegetarians can dig into the beetroot and chickpea alternative. Finish off the day in the Chez Mal Bar, lounging on tangerine seating and sipping on a tangy Mais Smash cocktail – an effervescent mix of lemon sherbet, gin and IPA.
The Zetter is a reflection of the talent that resides in Clerkenwell, which is said to be home to more creative businesses per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Overlooking St John’s Square, the boutique hotel was fashioned from an old Victorian warehouse. Bedrooms bring together the warmth of country style and the edge of modern design to create supremely comfortable spaces to hang out in. Fill up at the restaurant – a casual brasserie that serves contemporary takes on classic British cuisine.
Call a corner of the capital your own with these sleek mini-apartments close to Farringdon and Chancery Lane tube stations. The 58 suites in a restored Victorian red-brick building are ideal if you prefer a little more space, with even the smallest studio apartment furnished with a washing machine and dryer, iPod dock and fully equipped kitchen complete with dishwasher, toaster and Nespresso machine.
No need to look elsewhere for a good night out. This refurbished pub on busy Commercial Street has everything you need under one roof. Start in the ground floor’s atmospheric pub with its locally brewed beer and all-natural wine list, then head for dinner at the excellent first-floor restaurant or cocktails in the rooftop garden. Five dreamily shabby-chic bedrooms are on the second floor, with original fireplaces, bare plaster walls, sheepskin rugs and a welcome plate of chocolate chip cookies.
Prepare for sensory overload at nhow’s only UK outpost, which opened in January 2020. The lobby is a riot of neon signs, a Big Ben rocket sculpture, golden thrones and an LED fireplace, and rooms are equally bamboozling. Think Union Jack rugs, graffitied bathrooms and vintage teapots, with robot butler Henry delivering anything else you need. Dine on vegetable-based dishes at the hotel’s flexitarian restaurant, then enjoy a lie-in – check out is a blissful 5pm on Sundays.
Locations don’t get much better than this if you’re in the capital for business or a night out. Five minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street mainline station, this affordable newly refurbished property is close to Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch and the Indian restaurants of Brick Lane. Simply furnished rooms come with comfy Hypnos beds, super-powerful showers, smart TVs and multi-coloured mood lighting, while decent buffet breakfasts are worth the extra cost.
There’s something to see at every turn in this extraordinary Victorian red-brick building overlooking Liverpool Street Station. From the sumptuous lobby splattered with graffiti to the health club in an Egyptian Masonic temple, every detail is an Instagrammable delight. Rooms are plainer, but thoughtful extras include Apple TV, REN amenities, Nespresso machines and a free minibar of snacks and soft drinks. There are also five restaurants and bars within the hotel, plus a complimentary wine and canapé hour every night.
If you yearn for period drama opulence, this Georgian gem will help you feel to the manor born. Named after an eccentric 18th-century architect, the hotel feels like a mini stately home transplanted to Shoreditch, with a courtyard, cosy library with crackling fire and charming honesty bar. There’s no restaurant, but smoked salmon bagels and bacon baguettes are delivered each morning to the lavish bedrooms, complete with 17th-century carved oak beds, antiques and jewel-coloured silk drapes.
Save your cash for the vintage shops, craft beer bars and street food pop-ups of Shoreditch by staying at this affordable boutique chain within walking distance of Liverpool Street station. Rooms are small but have all you need with XL king-size beds, free movies and a MoodPad to control lights, blackout blinds and temperature. Downstairs, there’s a brightly coloured canteen splashed with modern art serving food all day and a bar with top-notch cocktails.
In the heart of Shoreditch on Great Eastern Street, this former cabinetmaker’s workshop is now a handsome 126-room hotel designed by London interior brand Fabled Studio. Elegant rooms come with herringbone flooring, concrete vanity units and built-in sound systems, while some have freestanding baths with skyline views. Feast on flavourful Eastern-Mediterranean dishes at Barboun, but don’t skip drinks at lobby bar Tavla, which offers barrel-aged cocktails, vinyl DJs, backgammon boards on every table and Turkish coffee cooked over hot sand.