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London does luxury like nowhere else – and the city’s high-end hotels are the ultimate proof of that. From historic buildings to shiny new skyscrapers, this is one of the easiest cities in the world to stay in elegance and style.
London is a time capsule of turbulent and remarkable history. Its streets are layered with Medieval structures and polished Georgian architecture, while its skyline is dotted with dramatic contemporary skyscrapers. It’s unsurprising that among them all are some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, each offering a different perspective on the city. Here are Culture Trip’s favourites so that you can spoil yourself on your next trip to the UK’s capital.
The Nobu Hotel is located in London’s hipster stomping ground, Shoreditch, and is a striking ensemble of Asian inspiration and East London eclecticism. With an architecturally sharp presence in an artistic area, the building plays with natural light and industrial features, such as steel beams, while still staying true to Nobu’s sleek style of contemporary luxury. A jewel of the East in more ways than one, the hotel is also home, of course, to a branch of the eponymous world-renowned restaurant – a sophisticated dining experience that blends the best of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. After a deep sleep in one of its decadent rooms, enjoy equally decadent dishes like black cod miso and yellowtail sashimi.
It’s clear to see why Agatha Christie used Flemings Mayfair, converted from 13 Georgian townhouses dating back to the 1700s, as a setting for one of her novels. Deluxe and executive rooms feature soft and bronze tones and bespoke furniture that nod to the hotel’s 1930s heyday, while suites come with high-end extras like honesty gin bars. Fine dining here comes in the form of seasonal menus inspired by the Channel Islands at Ormer Mayfair, where renowned chef Shaun Rankin crafts dishes from freshly caught seafood and foraged shoreline herbs. Manetta’s Bar is not to be ignored either. Regal in decor, it was once the place of rendezvous for the prestigious literary and artistic residents of Mayfair.
The Ritz London has long been synonymous with the elite and a place to go for royals. The fittingly opulent decor sweeps through the hotel, and droplet chandeliers adorn the ceilings. The finest cuisine is served in the hotel’s Michelin-star Ritz Restaurant, home to a spectacular dining room held up by marble columns and overlooking the lush greenery of Green Park. Having afternoon tea in the Palm Court is a must at The Ritz, and you should dress up to nibble on tiered trays of almost-too-pretty-to-eat cakes, classic mini sandwiches and sublime scones with Cornish clotted cream. Stay in the Trafalgar Suite to travel back to the 1800s – submerged in twinkly chandeliers and classic patterns – which famously featured in the hit film Notting Hill (1999).
Juxtaposing most lavish Mayfair hotels, the Bulgari puts a contemporary twist on classic luxury. The hotel is so high-end that there are minimal differences between the rooms and suites, so opt for a signature Bulgari Suite if you’re looking for a noticeable upgrade. The bathroom – a Nero Marquina marble affair – is particularly impressive, fitted with a walk-in steam shower. Architect Antonio Citterio has kept the brand’s silversmith history alive with flashes of silver throughout the interiors. For a late-night tipple, you can’t beat Nolita Social for its live music and menu of eclectic cocktails.
This belle-époque establishment is the epitome of opulence. Previously the old Ministry of Defence building, the hotel is within walking distance to most of the West End’s top spots. From the terraces of the top-floor suites, you can tick off all the London sights – marvel at Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament – while rooms themselves are stylishly minimalist, with neutral sandy tones complemented by cocoa-coloured furnishings. The Garden Suites are an ode to the classic English garden, with plants, splashes of olive green and contemporary artworks on the almond walls; it’s like relaxing in your own botanical sanctuary. The serenity continues in the award-winning ESPA Life spa, which spans four floors and boasts a dark, steel pool; a glass-walled sauna fringed by a dramatic fire; and a lavish marble and leather spa lounge.
The Ned is the sort of place a modern-day Gatsby would pick as his local hangout. The hotel feels like an ode to the 1920s, set in a spectacular former banking hall in the financial district. All of the rooms vary in size but have delicate finishing touches and distinguishable features. But the most lavish of them all is the Lutyens Suite – named after the hotel’s architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. It offers private access to the exclusive rooftop, where you’ll find a pool with a backdrop of towering skyscrapers. Its nine restaurants cover worldwide cuisines – dine at Kaia on a Sunday for an all-you-can-eat Asian-Pacific feast or The Nickel Bar for classic American fare and cocktails, surrounded by majestic African verdite columns.
It’s hard to miss The Shard piercing through the skyline. It’s home to the exquisite Shangri-La Hotel – the only hotel in the city that can provide guests with 64-kilometre (40-mile) views of London. The hotel begins on the 34th floor, 125 metres (410 feet) up, and all rooms come equipped with binoculars so that you can spot the capital’s beloved landmarks from afar. Each room is decorated with premium textures of marble, leather and silk, and every single one boasts sublime views. The panoramas from the London Suite, however, are unbeatable, taking in the main hotspots and the Thames. On level 52, you’ll find the hotel’s heated infinity pool, where you can peep over the edge from the water and experience London from new heights. Although it’s tempting to stay put, make sure to venture to nearby Borough Market, one of the oldest food markets in the city.
Sanderson is a boutique bolthole in the heart of the West End, just steps from sultry Soho and the shopping paradise of Oxford Street. Its Courtyard Garden is a highlight, drenched in Zen and tranquillity, and much needed after a fast-paced day of visiting nearby landmarks (or an afternoon at the Cocktail Heaven masterclass in the hotel’s Purple Bar). State-of-the-art details filter throughout the hotel, adding character to the ultra-contemporary decor, such as the plush red-lip sofa that sits in reception. All rooms come with 300-thread count linens, but you should stay in the Loft Suite Terrace for its peaceful private outdoor space and free-standing bathtub.
This Georgian townhouse comprises 24 eccentric bedrooms for those after a slightly more unconventional stay in the city – it feels like the home of a long-lost, and slightly outlandish, relative. Decor favours mismatched furniture, bold colours and unadulterated patterns, and you’ll find a bespoke four-poster bed in the Superior rooms, along with a tempting “raindance” shower. Meanwhile, hiding at the end of a private staircase is Lear’s Loft (aptly named after the house’s former resident and author, Edward Lear) – a treasure trove of Asian artwork and interesting ornaments. Head to Seymour’s Parlour, where bartenders can whip up pretty much any tipple that takes your fancy.
This swish Knightsbridge haunt is a short stroll from the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum, yet it feels tucked away from the hordes of tourists. High ceilings and picotee-blue walls sweep through the palm-scattered entrance, and the same whimsical vibe is continued in the rooms. You’d be content in any of them, with their heavy velvet curtains, mirrored furnishings and framed pressed flowers, but the Garden Suites are perhaps the most impressive. French doors open onto a Juliet balcony overlooking the manicured gardens below, and a contemporary metal four-poster bed is backed by towering arched window-pane mirrors.
The Savoy was the first luxury hotel to hit the streets of Britain. Its rooms have hosted a flurry of star-studded guests, such as Marilyn Monroe and Oscar Wilde, who came to experience the fine service and luxury for themselves. Most rooms have huge windows that drench the space in natural light and frame views of the Thames – the majority of London’s landmarks can be spotted from the comfort of your plush bed. These days, The Savoy is also marching ahead when it comes to sustainable travel. Rooms use energy-efficient light bulbs, and one of the hotel’s restaurants, Kaspar’s at The Savoy, has a three-star Sustainable Restaurant Association rating. The chefs use locally sourced, seasonal produce, and all food waste is converted into renewable energy.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Abigail Malbon.