12 London Hotels We Absolutely Adore
Our favorite stays in London are the epitome of British style and charm. Here are 12 that top our list.
It may seem like a tall order to make a mark in one of London’s most established neighborhoods—South Kensington is, after all, home to Hyde Park, Harrods, and Royal Albert Hall—but this Edwardian townhouse hotel fits in perfectly. The hotel's tasteful mismatch of eclectic patterns and motifs (astronomy, botany, geometry) is inspired by nearby landmarks like the Natural History Museum and the V&A: there are armchairs sporting colorful prints of herons, flora-covered pillowcases, and various objets d’art, while velvet tufted headboards and silk curtains keep the luxury in check.
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If the 2nd Viscount Lanesborough walked into his classical country retreat today, it's safe to say he'd be impressed. An 18-month renovation, overseen by the late Alberto Pinto, breathed new life into this landmark hotel overlooking Hyde Park, stripping it to the bone before returning it to its Regency-era golden days. Notable additions include patterned pastel drapery and bedspreads, ornamental plasterwork, gold leaf, and trompe l’oeil along with a new French restaurant, Céleste. For one of the more pricey stays in all of London, the Lanesborough is, once again, the embodiment of extravagant British elegance.
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Live out your own Julia Roberts love story at this Notting Hill bolt hole. Five connected Victorian townhouses, within walking distance of trendy Portobello Road, house 51 rooms featuring bedside paperback novels and clustered wall art, along with a full lending library, a quaint breakfast room, and a public space that transforms from a coffee shop to a bar to a gallery. For an afternoon pick-me-up, keep an eye out for the roaming cocktail cart (and get the signature, a rum-based drink inspired by the area's Caribbean communities).
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It's easy to find this boutique hideaway—if you know where to look. Sequestered behind Buckingham Palace, Hotel 41 is more like an old-world British club, all rich mahogany, antique leather armchairs, glittering chandeliers, and a roaring fireplace where one might curl up with brandy in hand. A chic, black-and-white aesthetic carries from the lobby to the 30 individually designed rooms that look out over the Royal Mews. While full English breakfasts and afternoon tea are held in a glass-topped executive lounge, the most lauded amenity is undoubtedly the stellar service—unsurprising, perhaps, since staff outnumber guests here.
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InterContinental London - The O2
Historic Royal Greenwich welcomed the 453-room InterContinental in January, and while its vast interiors and destination spa may appeal more to the style-conscious business set, there isn't a more luxurious—or convenient—place to stay this side of Canary Wharf. Sitting on the edge of the Greenwich Peninsula, you're just minutes away from the Old Royal Naval College and the National Maritime Museum, a World Heritage Site with a Royal Observatory where geography junkies can straddle the prime meridian.
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The art world was aflutter when this Art Deco hotel debuted in Mayfair, thanks in no small part to the Antony Gormley-designed cuboid suite that protrudes from the building's front façade. The rest of the 73-room hotel, borrowing from styles of the 1920s and 30s, is masculine and refined: there's checkerboard flooring in the lobby, early 20th-century paintings, marble and chrome bathrooms, an equally sleek basement spa, and a Corbin & King restaurant, Colony Grill Room, that quickly made a name for itself among London's dining elite.
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We would be remiss if we excluded this century-old, family-run charmer minutes from the gates of Buckingham Palace, bestowed with a Royal Warrant by the Queen a year after Kate Middleton famously spent the night here before her royal wedding. Like the Duchess herself, this hotel is the epitome of English grace and style—there's fine glassware, country-house antiques, and woven drapery from the same textile mill used by the royal palace. A top-to-toe renovation in 2015 brought in archival wall silks and a fleet of footmen for the suites, while the level of service and hospitality remains as top dollar as ever.
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The London EDITION
The design at the EDITION, in a landmark Georgian building just off Oxford Street, is expectedly edgy—exactly what we'd expect from hotelier Ian Schrager. The show begins in the lobby, which features a giant stainless steel egg overhead that reflects the room's flanking columns, green velvet sofas, and Art Deco flair. At the center of it all, you'll find Jason Atherton’s lauded Berners Tavern, where the city's style set come to nosh on contemporary British fare before sequestering themselves in see-and-be-seen basement club. Upstairs, 170 slick rooms are quiet escapes from the din below.
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St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
King's Cross was once an industrial, forgettable section of London seen only on one's way to and from the train station—but now there's reasons to stay, including a handful of new hip restaurants, interactive art installations, and the restored St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Along with 245 rooms, a spa, a barber shop, and one of the most convenient locations in all of London, the hotel is itself a pristine example of Neo-Gothic architecture and train hotel history. Everywhere you turn is another study in intricate stonework and colored marble, while the spiraling Grand Staircase, topped by a sky-blue dome studded with stars, is something out of a Victorian fairytale.
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What happens when a former Bond Girl turns her sights to interior decorating? Great things, if you’re talking about Anouska Hempel, a New Zealand-born actress who cashed in on her B-movie laurels to become the ne plus ultra of British designers. Her latest work: The Franklin, a 35-room bijou built in a row of Knightsbridge townhouses overlooking Egerton Gardens, where her signature moody yet whimsical interiors feature charcoal walls, mirrored beds, and luxurious Italian silks. Don't miss the nightly sabering ritual in the champagne and martini bar, sure to become this posh neighborhood's next watering hole.
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citizenM Tower of London
The Dutch hotel chain’s second opening in London (and its biggest, at 370 rooms) is everything we love about the brand—quirky yet sophisticated interiors are rife with digital art, coffee table books, vintage sporting paraphernalia, and standout furniture pieces by Eames and Prouvé—but with the added bonus of being smack in the middle of the city. Just head to the top-floor cloudM bar for sweeping terrace views of skyline landmarks like the Shard, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, and—you guessed it—the Tower of London. Other new additions found only at this branch: a coffeeM bar for all your caffeine and pastry needs and a shop, dubbed collectionM, if your needs are more along the lines of Bakelite radios or vintage telephones.
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Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch
Dare we say the prison hotel trend is on the up? There’s Amsterdam’s Het Arresthuis, The Liberty in Boston, and now the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch. A former magistrate’s court and police station—famous for holding East End gangster brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray—has been turned into one of Shoreditch’s more fashionable stays. Along with 128 rooms, you’ll find an impressive cinema, an indoor swimming pool, a two-lane bowling alley, and a rooftop bar. Scattered throughout are graffiti-like portraits of former (or faux) inhabitants: look out for the handcuffed Mona Lisa and a Darth Vader mugshot. The place to be, though, is the main bar, which features five original jail cells and serves up mean cocktails with names like “The Solitary” and “Ball and Chain.”
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