Whether you’re simply looking for a base or in need of some serious luxury, here’s Culture Trip’s guide to the best hotels in Central London to make staying in the heart of the Big Smoke that little bit easier.
Central London encompasses the areas of the city that feel about as quintessentially London as it gets. From glitzy Fitzrovia to the well-connected King’s Cross – they’re all a joy to explore and give you easy access to many of the city’s most most famous sights. Luckily, there’s no shortage of top hotels to choose from – here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the very best.
Named after the 18th-century writer who once lived there, Hazlitt’s is right in the heart of Soho and has developed something of a celebrity status over the years, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations. Once you step inside you won’t believe this hotel is in the thick of city life – the library and bedrooms are perfect pockets of peace and quiet. Around every corner you’ll find new treasures and each room pays homage to the old-fashioned charm of the building’s heritage. Take it easy in front of the drawing room fire with the resident cat, Sir Godfrey, and a book from the hotel’s extensive collection of signed first editions. To top it off, pour yourself a drink from the honesty bar, which is available to all guests.
If you want to be right in the middle of Piccadilly Circus – otherwise known as tourist heaven – you can’t get much closer than the luxurious Hotel Café Royal, arguably Central London’s most beautiful hotel. Renowned for its opulent French decor, it’s home to Akasha– one of the best spas in the city. Choose from hammam or hydrotherapy treatments, or simply take a dip in the huge swimming pool for the ultimate escape from the busy city outside. Rooms are minimalist and modern with Carrara marble bathrooms, crisp colour palettes and integrated Bang & Olufsen sound systems. If you’ve got time, book in for the champagne afternoon tea, which is served in the Oscar Wilde Lounge to the sound of live classical piano music. The interior of the space alone will make it one of the highlights of your stay.
Despite being right between Leicester and Trafalgar Squares, the Assembly Hotel offers one of the quietest stays for miles around – each of the simple and eccentric rooms has been soundproofed, meaning you can enjoy both the central location and the peace and quiet. Arriving late yourself? The reception is open 24 hours a day, so you can check in whenever you like. What with its contemporary decor (think neon signs, oversize cushions and cartoonish sculptures), it certainly appears to the millennial crowd and the superfast Wi-Fi is sure to attract a few digital nomads.
Everything about The Mandrake is a talking point and a little out of the ordinary – everything from the name (which comes from a hallucinogenic plant) to the lobby’s living wall and jasmine-filled courtyard you’ll find inside. Though it’s not long been open, The Mandrake has already developed a reputation as one of the best boutique properties to book into in Central London – you feel as if you’re stepping into a tropical retreat rather than a city hotel. Everything about it is geared towards giving guests an experience. You’ll enter through a dark tunnel and emerge into an urban rainforest – and this is all before you’ve even checked in. Artwork features heavily throughout, and the uniquely styled rooms allow you to choose a decor that feels most familiar to you – whether that’s the womb-like cosiness of the Mandrake rooms or the breezy chic of the Newman.
A stone’s throw from top sights such as Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery and Piccadilly Circus, The Z Hotel places you right in the thick of things. Embracing the concept of accessible luxury – comfy hotel rooms that offer all the amenities you could want for lower-than-average prices – the property makes it easy for you to get the most out of the area. Rooms make clever use of their space, with enormous beds, full-size en-suite bathrooms and numerous hidden storage alcoves for safely stowing your belongings. There’s no need to rush in the morning – take your time to wake up in the dreamy beds while sipping your morning coffee.
If walls could talk, those of Royal Horseguards would have a fair few secrets to spill. The hotel is housed in the location of both the former MI6 headquarters and the National Liberal Club – a favourite of Winston Churchill throughout his time in parliament. The interiors pay homage to the building’s past, with historical paintings of London and public figures, distinctive headboards and heavy Edwardian drapes. Opt for a room with views over the Thames – the Riverview Royal Horseguards Suite is the pick of the bunch, with its windows looking directly across to the London Eye.
Opened in 1908, DUKES has a long-standing reputation as one of Central London’s finest hotels. Having recently undergone an extensive renovation, it pays homage to its early days with mahogany wood furnishings, gilded picture frames, velvet textiles and an original wood-panelled lift. Yet, the place feels simultaneously modern and fresh thanks to features such as free Wi-Fi, state-of-the-art TVs and marble en-suite bathrooms with designer toiletries. Nestled behind St James’s Palace, the hotel gives you plenty to do in the surrounding area. Wine fans could spend an afternoon getting lost in the racks of 17th-century wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd, while royalists will only need to nip round the corner to watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
Built on the site of an old Scottish castle, this place started out life as the Metropolitan Police HQ before being converted into a hotel. Today, you’ll find tributes to this intriguing history woven into every aspect of the interior design – from artwork by prisoners involved in the Koestler Arts programme to motifs of police uniforms and badges. Bedrooms feature cupboards disguised as bookcases, and guests can browse a selection of books inspired by the building’s policing past (the Met Police still called the building home while investigating Jack the Ripper). Meanwhile, drinking and dining options include modern British fare at The Yard and strong cocktails at Sibin – a hidden whisky bar inspired by the illicit speakeasies originating in Ireland.
Established in the mid-1800s as a private members’ club for travelling diplomats, St James’s Hotel and Club today boasts the likes of Sean Connery and Michael Caine as honorary members. Rooms are discreetly luxurious with silk wallpaper, chandeliers made from Murano glass and Penhaligon products in the bathrooms. The Michelin-star restaurant, Seven Park Place, is definitely worth pushing the boat out for; its menu combines French and British influences to tantalising – and salivating – effect. For a meal to remember, try the foie gras with prune puree and turnips or the roast monkfish tail with wild mushrooms and roast chicken emulsion.
Blending elements of East and West, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate is like a transplant of India hidden away inside a Victorian-Edwardian building in the middle of London. Each luxury suite comes with plush bedding, mid-century-style leather sofas and high-tech TVs that provide a sense of modernity. Mere moments from Buckingham Palace, you could be watching the royal guards marching for their daily ceremony within minutes – or taking a private shopping excursion around Central London led by a hotel concierge. Dining options are rich and varied, but the jewel in the crown is most certainly the Michelin-star Quilon, which serves up a delicious and suitably hot and spicy South Indian menu.
The building this luxe hotel is housed in has a long and curious history. Once the entrance to Hyde Park Corner station (note the distinctive Tube arches on the facade above the main entrance), the building went on to serve as a jazz venue that hosted the likes of John Dankworth and Amy Winehouse. These days, guests can still get their jazz fix in the aptly named Jazz Lounge, which hosts live music as dinner is served. The interiors tap into the building’s history, too, with a strong Art Deco focus and an inescapably ritzy appeal. Many of the marble-clad bathrooms come with enormous roll-top silver baths, plus Hermes-branded toiletries. And to top it all off, there’s even a Rolls-Royce chauffeur service to take you anywhere in the vicinity – the most glamorous free taxi ride you could ever wish for.
Set between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, Great Northern Hotel is all about subtle luxury. The main entrance hides the grandeur found inside: rooms painted in earthy Farrow & Ball tones, with historical references and modern touches including a smart TV loaded with movie options. While King’s Cross is best known for its transport links, the area has seen something of a renaissance in recent years – the eateries of Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard are most definitely worth a visit.
There’s a sleek and Scandi-like look and feel to the rooms at Locke at Broken Wharf – though you might not realise it at first glance. Located on the banks of the River Thames, it’s housed in a former 1970s office block. Yet upon closer inspection, you’ll notice plenty of 21st-century modifications. The common spaces are abound with blond-wood furniture and butter-yellow sofas, while rooms are sage green from floor to ceiling and come with fully equipped kitchens and kooky touches such as a ceramic rooster. Stock up on fresh produce from nearby Borough Market and cook up a feast for a cosy night in.