A cinematic snapshot of England’s capital, the South Bank is home to some emblematic city sights as well as an abundance of lesser-known treasures, making it one of the most popular places to stay in the metropolis.
The South Bank 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, Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre, this stretch of land hugging the banks of the Thames is where you’ll find 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.
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 South Bank, 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.
The arty culture that characterises Bankside Hotel was borne from the hearts and minds of creatives. Look around and you’ll see artistic expression ingrained into every element, from the array of original wall art to the exposed-wire lighting, slatted walls and monochromatic tiling of its all-day restaurant. The rooms are equally magnetic, sticking to a neutral palette but keeping things interesting with prismatic feather-down pillows, rain showers and blackout blinds for those valuable lie-ins. The cultural treasures of the South Bank promise dynamic days out, with Tate Modern, BFI and the National Theatre all within walking distance.
This quirky hotel is a hybrid of Johnny Cash and The Greatest Showman. The bar-slash-café houses jewel-toned velvet armchairs and candy-striped tables that mingle with the Art Deco-inspired booths (complete with an utterly Instagrammable swing set). Upstairs, rooms consist of dark cherry-wood panelling, distressed leather and quaint wagon-wheel decor that captures a smooth country-western vibe. If you’re an aspiring musician, you’ll love the Marshall amps that feature in every room – and you can even hire a guitar for an afternoon jam session. When the time comes to explore, you’ll find yourself only a 10-minute walk from the London Eye and the bustling banks of the River Thames.
This converted Victorian tea warehouse sits beside the River Thames and so right on the doorstep of one of the city’s most exciting neighbourhoods. For dinner, head to Flat Iron Square – a thriving street food market just a stone’s throw away, with a rustic rooftop bar that serves as the perfect summer suntrap. Back in the hotel, there’s a sophisticated interior hiding behind the restored arch windows. Think exposed brickwork and sleek wood flooring with rust-orange chairs, dusty-pink headboards and bold patterned rugs scattered around the place. From simple crash pads for weekend breaks to bigger family-sized flats, you can choose a space to suit your needs.
The Sea Container Hotel fuses bright Las Vegas luxury with the sleek nautical style of a 1920s-era cruise liner. Based in the heart of the South Bank, the hotel boasts sensational views of the river, best witnessed from the neon-pink-lit terrace of the rooftop bar, 12th Knot. Inside, over 359 rooms offer glam minimalist spaces, combining pale greys with pops of fuchsia and featuring rainfall showers, flatscreen TVs and marble bathrooms. You can even step things up with a superior patio room – surrounded by a wall of ivy, its verdant outdoor space is perfect for romantic nights spent sipping bubbles under the stars.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Bianca Barratt.