Whether you’re a first-time visitor or consider London your home from home, Culture Trip has picked the best hotels across the capital, from five-star luxury to budget boutiques that punch well above their weight.
Home to a central courtyard filled with hanging jasmine and passion flowers, The Mandrake makes the 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 located 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). 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 cosy boutique charm, and their Pimlico outpost is no exception. Think wooden floorboards, fireplaces and old leather armchairs complemented by an array of local artwork. The hotel attracts everyone from well-heeled socialites to bohemian artists, making it one of London’s most culturally relevant hotels.
Famed for its French Neoclassical design, Hotel Café Royal has an award-winning spa with an 18-metre (60-foot) swimming pool and nine treatment rooms. It’s a bubble of serenity in London’s theatreland. The rooms are minimalist and modern, with Carrara-marble bathrooms and an integrated Bang & Olufsen entertainment system. Enjoy afternoon tea in the Oscar Wilde Lounge, which is hands down one of the most beautiful rooms in all of London.
Opulent, exciting and mysterious, The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone is the former home of fictional Victorian character Uncle Seymour. The eccentric design features candelabras, gilt frames and stuffed animals. Book into 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 locals enjoying an evening aperitif. There are citizenM hotels in Shoreditch and Tower Hill, but our favourite is the Bankside branch on London’s stunning and culturally vibrant South Bank.
The Pilgrm has done away with extraneous extras, including reception. Guests check in using their phones, although there’s always someone available to answer questions. The designers have used reclaimed furniture from schools, hospitals and military facilities and added contemporary flair. The street-level café offers a selection of CRU Kafe coffees and teas and mouthwatering Crosstown doughnuts. In the afternoons, you’ll find the Dolcelatte cheese toasties from head chef Sara Lewis impossible to resist.
Covent Garden’s Henrietta Hotel blends exquisite design with great food and some of the best beds in London. The Mediterranean-inspired menu will keep you coming back for more, as will the innovative literary-inspired cocktails that recall the building’s former use as a publishing house.
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 from 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 bar.
This Scandi brand brings its chic minimalism and eco-credentials to London’s Whitechapel. The name ‘Qbic’ stems from the rooms’ cube-like design and ingenious layout that maximises space. With fast Wi-Fi, hot showers and marshmallow-soft beds, this is the place to recharge. Whether you’re a breakfast person or not, the full English and cappuccinos from the restaurant will keep you going.
Claridge’s has been at the top of its game for over 200 years and boasts an impressive list of former guests including Queen Victoria, former prime minister Winston Churchill and Hollywood royalty Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. The afternoon tea is one of the best, and the Michelin-star Fera restaurant serves exceptional cuisine. From the doormen who tip their hats to the monochrome lobby, everything about this hotel is timeless.
This charming inn is located on Milkwood Street, where author Dylan Thomas once lived, namechecked in his famous novel Under Milk Wood. Each of its 12 bedrooms are named after astronauts who’ve landed on the moon and feature mobile-style chandeliers and starred wallpaper. The whimsy continues downstairs in the pub, which offers a wide selection of ales.
The Hoxton has been something of a trailblazer in Shoreditch for over a decade. Its open-plan lobby and dining area is a hub of activity and the perfect spot to appreciate a well-made Negroni. Couples will love the crisp, white sheets, leather Chesterfield sofas and backlit mirrors in the Cosy rooms, and art lovers can hunker down in one of nine Concept rooms, designed by local artists. Sometimes it’s better to stick with the original.
The budget-friendly Z Hotel Soho is modern and centrally located with comfortable rooms, and offers all you need for a great stay in the capital. A spectacular multistorey spiral staircase leads to sleekly designed bedrooms with all the essentials, such as fast Wi-Fi and power showers. The best part, aside from its prime location on Moor Street? The free cheese and wine every night between 5 and 8pm.
Hazlitt’s is a Soho institution and offers an escape from the miasma of London. Its library and bedrooms are gloriously peaceful. Curl up in front of the fire with the resident cat, Sir Godfrey, with a book in one hand and a drink from the honesty bar in the other. The bedrooms feature cushy four-poster beds, velvet armchairs and roll-top baths. For special occasions, book into the Duke of Monmouth suite, which has its own private terrace.