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, majestic royal parks and serene river walks.
London’s young and trendy are flocking south of the river in droves, towards of-the-moment Peckham and the nightlife hotspot of Brixton. With city highlights like Borough Market, Southbank and Shakespeare’s Globe lining the Thames, and neighbourhoods further south brimming with repurposed rooftop spaces and cacophonous food halls, there’s never been more reason to base yourself in the city’s southern postcodes. Explore them for yourself from these hotels, dotted from Waterloo to Southwark and everywhere in between.
Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London, London Bridge
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 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, first-class 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, 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.
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.
Located right behind Waterloo station, within striking distance of the landmark-lined Thames, this hotel gets big ticks for location. Entering the hotel feels as if you have stepped into the circus, with a theme that feels part big-top tent, part rock’n’roll. Electric guitars populate the walls and you can sip a cocktail perched inside a carousel at the 24-hour bar – start (or finish) your evening here, and recover with the breakfast buffet filled with healthy treats such as fresh fruit or warming porridge. Competitively priced, this hotel targets the budget traveller looking for a bit of luxury. Bright and monochromatic rooms are a stark juxtaposition to the chaos downstairs and, perfect for musos, each room comes fitted with a Marshall amp and high-quality bedding to ensure a dreamy night’s sleep.
Housed in a Grade II listed building dating back to 1905, The Dixon’s Edwardian-inspired rooms are full of jewel-hued headboards and velvet Art Deco-style seating, with sweeping views over Tower Bridge or the rooftops of SE1. Elsewhere, preserved period features have been paired with feature walls of kooky contemporary artwork, while the hotel’s restaurant is a graphic design dream: peach and millennial pink contrast with sunshine yellow and sage green, and dining booths are separated by Crittall-style panes. Head to the bar in the old courtroom for a glimpse into the building’s history (originally the Tower Bridge Magistrates Court) – it’s decorated with photos of the criminals who came through its doors, and the original judge’s bench has been preserved.
The Hoxton’s third London hotel has brought East London’s aesthetic south of the river. Sitting at the junction between industrial and elegant, the five room sizes (ranging from Shoebox to Biggy) are all equally appealing thanks to a combination of Crittall windows, exposed concrete, Art Deco-style velvet headboards and mid-century furnishings. But Instagram-ready rooms are far from the only reason to stay here: free takeaway breakfast bags are included, and you can order minibar goods without the minibar price tags from reception. Seabird restaurant, on the 14th floor, has a spectacular terrace, but neither should you miss the street food stalls at Borough Market, sitting just to the east.
This trendy aparthotel is housed in a meticulously renovated Victorian tea warehouse. Careful attention has been paid to maintaining the building’s heritage, keeping the original windows and exposed brick walls that complement the mid-century chic furnishings. All rooms come with an open-plan kitchen and dining space where you can whip up a meal with fresh produce from nearby Borough Market, before heading out for an evening at Shakespeare’s Globe, which is less than two minutes’ walk away.
Reminiscent of a 1920s cruise liner, and possessing all the glamour that comes with it, Sea Containers is sleek and modern while harnessing some 1920s nautical charm: rooms have large windows (all of which take in views of London in some way shape or form) and a soothing grey-toned colour scheme mixed with geometric prints and Art-Deco furnishings. The true winner here, however, is 12th Knot, the hotel’s busy rooftop bar and lounge, where you can take in panoramic views of London’s most iconic sights. Park up with a cocktail after dark and marvel at just how beautiful this city is.