The Southbank is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic areas of London. It’s where Hugh Grant confessed his love to Andie MacDowell in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and where Shakespeare’s plays were performed for the first time. Home to the London Eye, the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre, this stretch of land hugging the banks of the Thames is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks. As much of a draw for the capital’s residents as it is for its visitors, it also offers some great places to stay.
Here we’ve rounded up the best Southbank hotels for your next London adventure.
Nestled next to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, the Mad Hatter Hotel offers an unbeatable location for first time visitors to the capital, as well as the traditional novelty of being a pub with rooms. As with most London buildings, this one has operated as a hat factory (hence the name). The rooms on offer are either standard twin or doubles and each comes with a private bathroom kitted out with bath and shower. Book into the pub for a Sunday roast and enjoy the ceiling mural of Alice in Wonderland.
Originally intended as a hotel, the Sea Containers building in Southwark spent years being used as an office space before finally fulfilling its initial purpose with the opening of the Mondrian in 2011. Nods towards this industrialism are still hinted at – a copper-lined entrance hall here, a sleekly designed writing desk there – but the Mondrian is much more about play than work. Rooms range from standard doubles to deluxe apartments with views of the sprawling riverbank and each is decked out in the hotel’s modern and elegant style. Though perfectly placed to explore the city, there’s enough going on to keep you indoors: a stay wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Agua Spa or Curzon cinema and you can easily lose a whole evening to a game of Backgammon in the hotel parlour, The Den.
The backdrop for the Notting Hill film and the inspiration behind Arnold Bennett’s 1930 novel Imperial Palace, The Savoy has been one of London’s leading characters for over a century. Though it’s technically facing the Southbank rather than on it, its legendary status earns it a spot on the list. Opulent and elegant, the decor at The Savoy is testament to the decadence of traditional five star hotels and the service is second to none – anyone booked into a suite gets their very own butler. When not out on the town, guests can relax in the indoor pool or be enthralled at the literary salons in the Lancaster Ballroom before slipping into Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill for a steak and burgundy dinner.
CitizenM prides itself on providing rooms with all the amenities you’d find in a luxury hotel, but at a fraction of the cost. Here you’ll find king-size beds, rain showers and flat-screen TVs in each of the rooms despite the low price tag. It’s the co-working spaces, cool bars and travel-inspired décor that really stand out. As soon as you enter the lobby, you really feel the dynamic energy of this space. Aimed at digital nomads and world-travellers, it offers the perfect spot from which to explore London. You can quickly nip over to St Paul’s or take a stroll along the river.
A Victorian boys’ grammar school in a former life, The LaLIT in London has been reincarnated as a Bombay palace with deep blue, starry ceilings, killer Indian food and Sherwani-wearing staff. Each of the 70 rooms celebrates the heritage of both the building and the hotel’s origins with Ganesh effigies and printed soft furnishings perfectly complementing the old sash windows and fireplaces. The old Great Hall has been transformed into an Indian fine dining restaurant and the aptly named Headmaster’s Room serves some seriously potent cocktails. After a particularly stressful day, check into the award winning Rejuve spa for an ayurvedic massage.
Occupying the 34th to 52nd floors of one of the tallest buildings in Europe, the Shangri-La at the Shard reigns supreme over south London. Just a short walk to the Southbank, it goes without saying that the view is the main attraction here – with each room showcasing the city skyline through its floor-to-ceiling windows – but the decor is equally captivating. As with all the Shangri-La hotels, the colour scheme reflects the hotel’s location so at the Shard you’ll find lots of slate grey, twinkling lights and dusky blues. At TING restaurant you’ll find a British-Asian fusion menu and for a Bond-like experience, dip into the 52nd floor pool just as the sun goes down.
Overlooking the river and just a stone’s throw from the Southbank, the London Bridge Hotel has an air of smart-casual ease. Whether you’re after a standard room or an apartment, each one is decorated with a kind of elegant homeliness – like the guest bedroom of a particularly sophisticated friend. Angle-poise lamps keep the atmosphere ambient whilst the chest of drawers (practically unheard of in a hotel) make unpacking easy. The Quarter Bar and Lounge is equally equipped for business meetings as it is for a nightcap – especially recommended if you like single-malt whisky.