Right at the heart of Central London and close to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, Westminster is bound up with the very idea of Britishness. It’s where the fate of the nation is decided, and sovereigns are born and buried. You’ll also find some of the capital’s most quintessentially English hotels, complete with intuitive service, fine dining and stories to tell. From Soviet spy rings to secret doors, these Westminster hotels have it all.
Within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, the Conrad London St James is in the city’s royal heart. Walk five minutes up the road, and you’ll reach Westminster Abbey, the final resting place of Plantagenets, prime ministers and poets. Stroll northwards, and you’ll hit St James’s Park, which has a colony of pelicans that have lived there for more than 350 years. Back at the Conrad, settle in the wood-clad lounge of the Blue Boar Bar, a Westminster rejig of the classic British pub.
On the corner of Whitehall Place and Northumberland Avenue, Corinthia London is an all-out luxury option with one of the most opulent spas in the city. The ornate stone exterior sets the regal tone, leading into light-flooded lounges with marble floors and gleaming chandeliers. The themed penthouses are as grand as any in the city, complete with private roof terraces and princely views. The award-winning ESPA Life at Corinthia spa spans four floors – the lounge areas alone will make you feel like royalty.
The location of the St James’s Hotel and Club is hard to beat, placing you moments from Piccadilly and Pall Mall. The hotel is a destination in its own right, not least because of its Michelin-star restaurant, Seven Park Place. However, it’s the St James’s Club that makes 7-8 Park Place a hallowed address. Founded in 1857, the club was quick to attract the cream of society and has been a hangout for politicos and celebrities ever since. Come dressed to kill – Sean Connery and Roger Moore were members.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel occupies a palatial riverfront building in Whitehall, putting you right at the heart of the establishment. Its multiple-turreted design was modelled on a French château, and many rooms have kingly views across Whitehall Gardens and the Thames. Horse Guards Parade, where the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment struts its stuff, is minutes away.
Ask for a river-facing room at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, and you’ll have three famous landmarks in your sightline: the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. Completed in 1922, County Hall was designed as the headquarters of the local government. Now, the most impressive of its wood-panelled rooms is the Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar, which gets its prime cuts from local O’Shea’s Butchers.
You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to guess that the Great Scotland Yard Hotel has harboured a few secrets in its time. The building is best known as the Central Detective Unit of the Metropolitan Police, a history that’s hinted at with shields, etchings and hidden doors. In the lounge and restaurant, the walnut panelling, moulded plaster and palm-print wallpaper will transport you to the era of Arthur Conan Doyle. The surrounding streets, peppered with old-school pubs, are the haunt of civil servants – running the country is thirsty work, after all.