Many of London’s hotels are world-famous, thanks to their historic designs, movie cameos and even the odd royal guest. These illustrious properties will guarantee a memorable stay in the capital.
Royal residences, historic landmarks and famous film locations lurk on almost every corner of central London. And in one of the world’s most recognisable cities, there are plenty of places to stay with equal prestige. Perhaps you’re after somewhere with Hollywood’s seal of approval, or you want to pamper yourself in the suite where Kate Middleton spent the night before her wedding to Prince William. London’s hotels have notoriety and glamour in spades, none more so than the following places.
The Ritz London, Piccadilly
Suite Hotel, Chain Hotel, Spa Hotel, Hotel
Sister of the Paris hotel, the Ritz London is probably best known for its afternoon teas, served from 11.30am to 7.30pm daily, comprising a mouthwatering selection of dainty sandwiches, cakes and pastries. It featured heavily in the film Notting Hill (1999), when Hugh Grant’s character pretended to be a writer for Horse & Hound to interview Julia Roberts. Stay on a Friday night for dinner and dancing and you’ll feel as though you’ve travelled back in time.
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As the cream of the crop, the Savoy is as much a part of London now as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Opened in 1889, the building was a groundbreaker at the time, thanks to the installation of electric lights and lifts. Now Grade-II listed, it underwent a complete refurbishment and reopened in 2010, the designers sticking to the hotel’s historic look but with added comforts.
When it opened in 2014, the Chiltern Firehouse quickly became the city’s most talked-about celebrity hangout. Helmed by André Balazs, the mogul behind Château Marmont in Hollywood, it has garnered a reputation as a retreat for the rich and famous. Tables at its restaurant are all but impossible to come by, and entry into the secretive Ladder Shed bar actually impossible – despite articles on how to trick your way past the stringent entry policies, which then change once word gets out. A room reservation guarantees you entry to the ultimate see-and-be-seen party destination, and rumour has it Bill Clinton jumped on the decks one night. Rooms are done out with velvet couches, stained-wood headboards and real fireplaces – the perfect place to hole up like a celebrity.
This historic hotel on Park Lane, which opened in 1931 and still features many of its 1930s decor, has played host to a string of well-known faces, including Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who often holed up in the penthouse. Prince Philip had his stag do here before marrying her majesty, Queen Elizabeth. In terms of interiors, things are as you’d expect – traditional, luxurious and opulent. Interesting fact – the hotel claims to have the deepest baths in London.
Johnny Depp and Kate Moss put this hotel on the map in the 1990s after allegedly filling a bathtub with champagne. But honestly, one look at those gorgeous Victorian tubs and you’ll see why they were tempted. The tiny hotel, with 21 belle-époque style rooms, was the merger of two neoclassical mansions in a quiet street in trendy Notting Hill, west London. Each room has an abundance of atmospheric features and round beds, and thanks to guests such as Alice Cooper and Robbie Williams it has become a favourite among the rock’n’roll set.
A hop and a skip from Hyde Park, the Royal Lancaster London came to fame after a cameo appearance in the Michael Caine box-office hit The Italian Job (1969). The decor is a throwback to its dapper heyday, with plenty of classy 1960s touches such as azure crushed-velvet sofas and retro carpeting. Large picture windows are a neat touch – so you can spend your evenings watching the sun sink behind the city skyline, from the luxury-linen comfort of your king-size bed. Start your day with breakfast at the Park Restaurant: its traditional full English garners glowing reviews.
The Goring is famously where Kate Middleton stayed the night before her wedding to Prince William in 2011. It’s not hard to see why she chose it: a favourite among the royals, it is the only hotel awarded a Royal Warrant for hospitality services to the Queen. The entire Middleton clan stayed here – Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael, as well as siblings Pippa and James. Tucked behind Buckingham Palace, the Westminster location is handy for St Paul’s cathedral, but it’s the traditionally English interior that lends the hotel real charm. Opened by Otto Richard Goring in 1910, the owners say it was the first hotel to offer all-ensuite rooms, and it remains in the Goring family to this day.
Located on Frith Street in Soho, this 18th-century building is the former home of essayist William Hazlitt, who died in poverty in 1830. Yet it feels incredibly authentic even to this day. The floorboards still slope, the door frames can be wonky, and the rooms are decorated with traditional paintings. Of course, it comes with a whole heap of charm, including Hazlitt’s cabinet of curiosities and an honesty bar, so you’re guaranteed to feel comfortably at home.
Opened in 1873, this hotel next to St Pancras railway station used to be known as the Midland Grand. By 1930, it was used as offices after becoming too expensive to heat, and following a huge refurb, it reopened in 2011. Fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) will probably recognise it, but tourists are bound to have noticed the impressive building during their trips. The interior is almost as showstopping as the facade, with lots of gold leaf and marble, and the impressive grand staircase.
Built between 1863 and 1865, at a whopping (at the time) £300,000, The Langham was considered London’s first grand hotel. It is London through and through, and today focuses on experience, and its Artesian bar was voted the world’s best bar four years in a row (2011-2015). Head here for a cocktail and watch the world go by.
Discreetly located at the end of a drive canopied by branches and greenery next to St James’s Park, St Ermin’s Hotel, built in 1899, was the hub of covert operations during World War II. Since then, filmmakers have been drawn to its grand Victorian facade, regal surroundings (Buckingham Palace is minutes away) and ornate, baroque-style interior. The rooftop served as the setting for Sid and Nancy’s riotous toy-pistol gunplay in the 1986 punk biopic, and the glamorous art nouveau decor was the backdrop to George and Simone’s hurried meeting in Mona Lisa (1986). Rooms are equally classic with marbled bathrooms, luxury White Company toiletries and 24-hour room service.