Budget boutique hotels don’t come much better than this. At first look, the hotel really is to be applauded – it’s essentially a giant shipping container floating on the the water of the Docklands with a rooftop garden that stretches across. Profits go back into the business, helping with training and jobs for long-term unemployed locals. Good by name, good by nature – and very cool.
Escape busy Soho and the West End by heading to Bankside – a cool part of Southwark equidistant to London Bridge and the Southbank. Perfect for art and theatre-goers, the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe are a stone’s throw away, while The Shard is a 15-minute walk.
A glance at the Artist Residence will tell you it’s something special, but the Pimlico favourite really is truly beautiful inside. Often touted as “affordable luxury”, the 10-room hotel features exposed brickwork, quirky art and a very British array of eccentric-but-it-works clutter. Plus, it houses Michael Brennan’s delicious 64 Degrees restaurant, which opened following the success of the Brighton establishment.
Billed as “anti-hotels”, the Hoxton was the original of the hotel properties owned by Sharan Pasricha, who has since opened in Holborn, Amsterdam, Paris and now New York and Oregon. Rooms offer great value for money, and the brand focuses on a community feel. Since its opening in 2006, the Hoxton has become synonymous with the cool, East London vibe – making it perfect for hipsters at heart.
It doesn’t get more Shoreditch than Ace Hotel – as soon as you walk in, you’ll spot dozens of creative types busy on their laptops in the lobby’s co-working space. Rooms are a whole new experience thanks to the unusual amenities, which can include acoustic guitars, and almost everything in there is for sale; including the toiletries. Restaurant Hoi Polloi is a favourite for locals thanks to its buzzy atmosphere.
This Clerkenwell hotel pays homage to Smithfield, and its past reputation as a less-than-desirable area, which doesn’t necessarily sound like the perfect overnight stay – but it really works. Think Georgian-inspired interiors with creaky floors, wonky pictures frames and cosy open fires. The 33 rooms are named after people who lived in the area, including a prostitute and a knight, and the building itself is believed to date back to the 1760s. All in all, it’s a clever theme that doesn’t come across as gauche.
Located in stylish Fitzrovia, The Mandrake is an oasis from the busy tourism hotspot. Hallucinogenic plant, the mandrake, is – unsurprisingly – the theme for the hotel, and while it might sound familiar to Harry Potter fans, it could go over some heads if it weren’t for the outstanding jungle vibes throughout the establishment. A palm tree-lined inner courtyard, flowers dotted around everywhere and behind the bar a half-kangaroo, half-peacock mythical creature made from beetle wings and deer legs sits in a glass cabinet. It’s bizarre, but it sure does work.
Located bang in the middle of trendy Soho, the Ham Yard is within walking distance of the West End, Chinatown and Oxford Street. But the best way to see London is easily on the hotel’s rooftop garden – a well-kept secret amongst guests. The drinks menu is original and delicious, and the atmosphere is joyful (helped by the garden theme – there are even two bee hives). There’s a real focus on having fun at the Ham Yard – the interior, designed by Kit Kemp is playful and colourful, and there’s even a 1950s-style bowling alley.
A room at Dean Street Townhouse | Courtesy of Dean Street Townhouse / Expedia
If it comes from the people behind Soho House, you know there’s always going to be a buzz around – and that’s exactly the case with Dean Street Townhouse. The rooms come in sizes – from Tiny to Bigger – meaning there’s a price point for almost every guest. With an eye on comfort (the freestanding bathtubs a perfect example) and luxury in the form of the Cowshed toiletries, you’re guaranteed a great introduction to London’s busy neighbourhood.
This Covent Garden hotel is made up of just 18 bedrooms, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in style. Designed by Dorothee Meilichzon, and owned by the same group that created the Experimental Cocktail Bar in Chinatown, you can expect plenty of quirky touches such as staff in trainers and lots of pink, mirror and marble. Make the most of the bar, restaurant and Instagram-friendly angles during your stay here.