South Kensington is London’s museum capital, home to the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum – not to mention the Royal Albert Hall and world-famous shops such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Here’s Culture Trip’s guide to the best hotels in South Kensington to suit all budgets.
The rooms at The Ampersand Hotel take their lead from the area’s local landmarks, in particular its museums, with a bird-themed room representing the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum being channelled by planet-themed decorations in another. While gimmicky can sometimes stray dangerously close to tacky, this boutique hotel – built in 1889 – is all luxury. There are five themes governing the design of the hotel: botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy. There’s also a vintage-inspired Mediterranean restaurant and cocktail bar, a wine room, and a vividly coloured, French-style tea room.
Often described as feminine, the rooms at Number 16 are filled with bright, bold and colourful prints and pleasantly clashing patterns, giving it a real sense of personality. With owner Kit Kemp doubling as an interior designer, each modern, English-style room has been given the personal touch, uniquely decorated with its own colour scheme, made all the more inviting by large French windows. There’s also a lovely tree-filled patio for guests to enjoy in the summer months, and an airy conservatory for the winter.
This opulent Art Deco-inspired hotel has a dramatic and theatrical air. The grand restaurant has a long marble bar, black panelling and gold-framed mirrors, making you feel like you’re in a golden age Hollywood movie. Blakes Below is the name of the dark and mysterious club beneath where many a hedonistic night may be spent.
A four-star boutique hotel without the extortionate price tag (the founder calls it ‘affordable luxury’), The Nadler is a great option for those wanting to save cash for South Kensington jaunts. Housed in a fresh, white stucco townhouse, The Nadler has eliminated ‘unnecessary extras’ from its 65 rooms, whilst retaining great facilities such as kitchenettes with Nespresso machine, a Brita-water-filtered tap, and free Wi-Fi, all complemented with plush furnishings and sleek design.
Housed just off fashionable King’s Road inside two Georgian townhouses, Sydney House describes itself as a ‘bijou Chelsea pied-à-terre’ – that’s a small and elegant second home in the city, for those of you who don’t speak posh. More relaxed than most on this list, it’s part of a group called Baby Abode, which aims to bring affordable options to the table. The rooms at this four-star hotel – many of which have their own balconies – are modern and bright, with ‘The Room at the Top’ enjoying its own private roof garden.
Another Kit Kemp design, The Pelham is a luxury townhouse hotel with a fun and flirty style. Unique, signature furniture and artworks dot the hotel – including a racing measurement chair in the reception – alongside colourful furnishings and antiques. The hotel also boasts some beautiful public spaces including a popular bistro and bar, a stylish, wood-panelled drawing room with honesty bar and fireplace, and a library.
Last but certainly not least comes The Exhibitionist – perhaps the most extravagant and eclectic on this list, as its name suggests. This arty boutique hotel in Kensington doubles up as a gallery (actually, there are eight), and describes itself as ‘an intervention’ – a blazing flash of anarchic colour and curatorial precision; it is the ultimate expression of the new boutique. While we’re not sure anything with so hefty a price tag can be called anarchic, The Exhibitionist certainly is a sight to behold. Spaces in the hotel are opened up for artists to display their work, the collection being switched up twice a year, while set pieces such as a life-sized bull and a Jimmie Martin mannequin lamp decorate the open-plan ground floor.