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 Ampersand Hotel
The Ampersand Hotel | Courtesy of The Ampersand Hotel / Hotels.com
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.