In ever-changing London, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a veteran at planning trips to the capital, you’re unlikely to exhaust your options when it comes to cool hotels. Make this list your first port of call when choosing where to stay.
When it comes to hotels, London’s diversity is unmatched. From over-the-top eccentricity and dreamy design to unique themes and budget boutiques that punch above their weight, each one is as inimitable as the last. Don’t overlook high-end neighbourhoods like Fitzrovia and Marylebone in your hunt for on-trend interiors. Shoreditch might have garnered a reputation as London’s capital of cool, but in this individualistic city, voguish boltholes can be found wherever you turn. This list is Culture Trip’s pick of the best.
Home to a central courtyard filled with hanging jasmine and passion flowers, The Mandrake makes this list for being the most unique hotel in the capital. Named after a hallucinogenic plant, it’s a wonderland of ethereal music, living plants and lush decor. The fun starts at the front door, which conceals a tunnel to the spectacular lobby. Located right in the heart of the West End, it’s ideally situated for Soho’s culinary delights and the best theatre shows in town.
The Laslett is located in leafy Notting Hill and takes its name from Rhaune Laslett, the founder of the Notting Hill Festival (which would later become the world-famous carnival of today). The library, covered in tomes and objets d’art, is the perfect place for tea. The Laslett celebrates local artists and displays their work throughout its space, as a true champion of Notting Hill’s rich cultural heritage.
The Artist Residence brand has become synonymous with homely boutique charm, and its Pimlico outpost is no exception. Wooden floorboards, fireplaces and old leather armchairs are complemented by an array of local artwork and custom furniture. The hotel attracts everyone from well-heeled socialites to bohemian artists, making it one of London’s most culturally relevant hotels.
Opulent, exciting and mysterious, The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone is the former home of an eccentric fictional Victorian character. The more-is-more decor features candelabras, Union Jack flags, gilt frames and stuffed animals, while some rooms have dramatic, carved four-poster beds. Book Lear’s Loft for the copper bathtub on the terrace, and try your hand at mixing a cocktail with the kits provided in each room.
Aimed at digital nomads, citizenM offers affordable luxury in abundance. You’re just as likely to see a group huddled over MacBooks, flat whites in hand, as you are London residents enjoying an evening aperitif. There are citizenM hotels in Shoreditch and Tower Hill, but the Bankside branch on the city’s stunning and culturally vibrant South Bank is a favourite.
It’s hard to decide whether The Standard turns time backwards or forwards. Its ’70s Brutalist exterior – complete with a cherry red, pill-shaped elevator – is nostalgically futuristic, like it belongs on the set of Thunderbirds (2004) or Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). Inside, tartan-inspired fabrics and modern furniture are undeniably vintage, while the curved, pod-like windows feel like they’re from another time to come (book the Queen of Queens for cinematic views of St Pancras station). Head to the retro Library Lounge to pour over books about space, science or psychology while sipping a classic cocktail, but the on-site restaurant, Decimo, deserves an entire evening of your time for its modern-Mexican fare (such as manchego cheese quesadillas and zingy aquachile, or ceviche) and dramatic skyline views through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Even though there’s no reception desk, The Pilgrm has made checking into the hotel simple – guests do it through their phones. However, if needed, there is someone available to answer questions. Inside, designers have given the reclaimed furniture from schools, hospitals and military facilities a contemporary update. Before heading out for the day, visit the street-level café, Workshop Coffee, for a selection of coffees, teas and sweet treats. Breakfast and brunch are also available in The Lounge.
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Covent Garden’s curvaceous Henrietta Hotel is the most Instagram-ready in the city. Its 18 rooms blend Art Deco-inspired style with Italian design and millennial pink bathrooms that wouldn’t be out of place on a Wes Anderson film set. Henrietta Bistro serves equally pretty plates of food, with a fresh and vibrant menu inspired by southwest France, Corsica and the Basque Country. Literary-inspired cocktails recall the building’s former use as a publishing house, such as the Adventures in Two Worlds – a bucolic combination of single-malt whisky, lemon and vanilla-honey syrup.
The Curtain brings a glimpse of New York to London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood. The converted warehouse takes the rough with the smooth – think exposed brickwork complemented by velvet drapes – and attracts an edgy East London crowd. Celebrated chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant serves Deep South-inspired recipes in the building’s basement. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the rooftop pool or a gin cocktail among the hanging plants and emerald tiles of the Green Room.
This Scandi brand is all about chic minimalism, with enviable eco-credentials to boot. The name Qbic stems from the rooms’ cube-like design and ingenious layout that maximises space. With fast wifi, hot showers and super-soft, fluffy beds, this is the place to recharge. For a great start to your day, visit the on-site restaurant and have the full Motley Grail and a cappuccino.
Sometimes it’s better to stick with the original. The Hoxton has been something of a trailblazer when it comes to exporting East London’s aesthetic overseas. There are branches in Chicago, Portland, Amsterdam and Paris, to name just a few, but this Shoreditch branch – with its parquet floors and industrial details – was the first. Rooms come with Chesterfield sofas and minimalist back-lit mirrors, but you can also opt to hunker down in one of nine concept rooms designed by local artists. Its open-plan lobby and dining area is a hub of activity and the perfect spot to appreciate an impeccably made negroni.
Hazlitt’s is a Soho institution and offers an escape from the miasma of London. Its bedrooms are gloriously peaceful with cushy four-poster beds, velvet armchairs and roll-top baths. The library is a relaxing space where you can curl up in front of the fire with a good book, a drink from the honesty bar and the resident cat, Sir Godfrey. For special occasions, book one of the suites – the Duke of Monmouth has a private terrace.
Every playful room at the sky-brushing Treehouse Hotel has a view. The best can be found in the Skyline King rooms, where you can settle into a snug window seat and look out over Regent Street. Childhood- and forest-themed decor is scattered throughout; beds have carefully placed stuffed toys while bathrooms have tree trunks with cuckoo clocks. The rooms are designed to appeal to your nostalgic side but with all the hallmarks of an on-trend hotel (concrete walls, warehouse-style windows and plenty of plants). On the roof, you’ll find a clubhouse for adults; The Nest is a whimsical wooden bar that combines Turkish rugs, hanging plants and woodland trees with sweeping city views.