Looking to escape the madness of Central London? Head south of the River Thames for a touch of tranquillity, where some of the capital’s cosiest hotels put you among bustling food markets, regal royal parks and serene river walks.
Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London
The rooms at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London offer cityscape views | Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London / Hotels.com
Perched on floors 34 to 52 of London’s tallest building, Shangri-La offers guests incredible views of the city. The skyline takes centre stage in the hotel’s sleek and minimalist rooms, which incorporate clever, angular lighting that reflects the cityscape beyond the windows. A swim in the hotel’s top floor infinity pool is a must, as is a martini at GŎNG bar. After taking in the view, head back down to earth for culinary delights at nearby Borough Market, or take a walk along the river. If you love to swim, check out our list of the best outdoor swimming pools in London.
The London Bridge Hotel has a homely atmosphere that’s often missing from other, more extravagant, London stays – not at the expense of style, though. All the rooms are smart and sophisticated, plus there is plenty of storage space so that you can unpack and keep things uncluttered. Head up to the Quarter Bar & Lounge for a single-malt whisky nightcap after a day of exploring the South Bank, which is just a couple of minutes away.
This Victorian boys’ grammar school has been reincarnated with vibrant decorative touches, killer Indian food and Sherwani uniforms that wouldn’t be out of place in the palaces of Rajasthan. Each of the 70 rooms combines the heritage of the building with a celebration of Indian culture, so you’ll find the original sash windows and fireplaces dotted with Ganesh statues and printed soft furnishings. The old Great Hall has been transformed into an Indian fine-dining restaurant, and the aptly named Headmaster’s Room serves some seriously tasty cocktails. Make sure to check into the award-winning Rejuve spa for an ayurvedic massage on your visit.
Don’t be fooled by the low price tag, king-size beds, rain power showers and flat-screen TVs – it’s all standard at citizenM, which offers affordable luxury in the heart of the city. An ideal base for digital nomads, it has a co-working space, plus a comfy living-room-style lobby crammed with books on photography, fashion, design and travel. Its central location also means you’ll be conveniently placed for strolls along the river or visits to St Paul’s.
Once the watering hole of Dylan Thomas, the Half Moon is now a cosy and polished inn just a short walk from central Brixton. It still serves great ales, but its bedrooms have been completely reformed with mobile-style chandeliers, pastel-shaded soft furnishings and astrological detailing. Bedrooms are named after the 12 astronauts to make it to the moon, and there are whimsical nods to this theme throughout the hotel. The bar is just as beautifully decorated, with a dreamy combination of velvet, copper and lush, green plants.
Closer to Clapham than Balham, but conveniently located within walking distance of both, The Windmill is a local gem. Cosy and welcoming, and everything a London pub should be, the decor is country-chic; think wooden tables, big squishy leather sofas and plenty of dogs making themselves at home. The stylish bedrooms boast industrial-chic bathrooms, and some have big baths for soaking. Book in for dinner – the pie is particularly delicious.
The lodge-style rooms at The Dog and Fox are full of thick, fur throws, dark woods and tartan accents. All have touches such as Nespresso coffee machines and air conditioning, but each luxurious suite has a unique feature – a skylight, a cosy turret with a window seat or a roll-top double bathtub, for example. You’ll struggle to leave the supremely comfy Hypnos beds, but if anything can coax you out, it will be the classic English pub fare in the bar and restaurant, which is equally charming and has a mini library.
Richmond’s Bingham Riverhouse is a laid-back restaurant offering modern British fare with river views and a place to rest your head in Scandinavian-inspired rooms. Done up with wooden furniture, warm lighting, cosy autumnal throws and cushions, each room has its own hygge magic. Plug your music into the docking station and take in the views from your copper bathtub, or head out to explore Richmond High Street and London’s largest park.
You wouldn’t necessarily think to stay in Kennington, but The Tommyfield – a casual and modern pub with rooms – might change your mind. The guest rooms feature the kind of rustic industrial style you’d expect in a New York City loft; exposed brick, hanging filament bulbs and modern artwork all jostle for attention in these small but perfectly formed spaces. London’s Waterloo station and the South Bank are within reach.