The Best Hotels in London

London has approximately 123,000 hotel rooms. Nobody knows for certain how many. You’d think, like schools, hospitals, and public swimming pools, there’d be a definitive and up-to-date list of the city’s hotels. Evidently not. In any case, 123,000 was the figure that some astute hospitality scholar came up with back in 2010. That number has undoubtedly increased significantly over the last decade.

Still, a shortlist of 12 hotels in London is plenty, especially 12 as diverse, exciting, innovative, sumptuous, original, and surprising as these. While certain other great cities around the world are similarly blessed in terms of hotels – Paris and New York, without a doubt; Hong Kong and Geneva, possibly – none is more so than London.

The word ‘best’ in our headline, with its hint of know-it-all certainty, is part of the point of lists like these: provoking civilised debate. We hope you will agree that our assessment of what is best is generally correct. If you don’t, you can rest assured that there are at least 123,000 alternatives available to you during your stay in London.

What is the best area to stay in London?

If you’re visiting London for the first time or want to stay in the heart of the action, the best hotels in London tend to cluster around the West End in neighborhoods like Soho, Piccadilly, Mayfair, and Covent Garden. Some of London’s smartest high-end hotels are located near Hyde Park or Green Park, and grand landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Harrods are nearby. Head to East London, where there are a number of smart hotels in Shoreditch, to be closer to London’s creative, music, and nightlife hub.

#1 Claridge’s, Mayfair

claridges mayfair

Claridge’s has developed an almost mythical aura over the years, making it more than the sum of its parts. Nothing wrong with its parts – an irresistible mash-up of flapper-tastic Art Deco, grand Victorian flourishes, and low-key, streamlined contemporary luxe. Passing through its strangely fragile-feeling revolving doors is like entering another, more beautiful world. The foyer serves one of the best afternoon teas in London, and a drink at the bar (or, better yet, in the tiny Lalique-panelled fumoir) is mandatory. Always at the top of our list of the best hotels in London.

Rooms and prices

#2 Mondrian London, Shoreditch 

mondrian london

This East London enclave should have died a long time ago. Shoreditch’s street food stalls, concept bars, and cutting-edge boutiques have been thriving for years. Then there were the chic hotels, award-winning cocktail bars, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Bright young creatives were quickly priced out of living in this neighborhood. Then, over the course of 18 months, the once-vibrant streets fell silent. A couple of big names had closed for good, leaving room for newcomers to shake up the re-emerging neighborhood scene. After handing over the keys to its South Bank stalwart a few years ago, Ian Schrager’s city-slicking group Mondrian was poised to launch a new London hotel.

The Reuben brothers’ company took over the shuttered members’ club-hotel The Curtain and brought in design studio Goddard Littlefair – also behind the 2016 facelift of Scotland’s Gleneagles – to shake things up. The most beautiful of the 120 whitewashed, exposed-brick rooms have large balconies and skyline views, but this isn’t a place to spend much time in bed. The lobby is filled with art, including a double-height piece by British painter Fred Coppin, and Christina’s on the ground floor serves glossy pastries by day and Espresso Martinis by night. A members-only rooftop restaurant with its own pool and a co-working space where events and panels are held are available. The biggest coup of all is that downstairs, Spanish chef Dani Garca has opened the first UK outpost of his renowned BiBo brand. The best reason to rediscover Shoreditch yet.

Rooms and prices

#3 The Shangri-La at the Shard, London Bridge

the shangri la shard london bridge

Never before has a traffic jam on the Old Kent Road appeared so enchanting – everything seen from The Shangri-La appears to be enchanting. The hotel is located on floors 34-52 of Renzo Piano’s 87-story London landmark. The rooms (contemporary, creamy, Asian-influenced), restaurants (especially the romantic Ting), and bar (gin and rosemary – divine) are all fantastic, but nothing beats the incredible views over London, which turn every guest into a slack-jawed infant, lost in wonder, gazing out, palms to the window, all day long. At night, sitting cross-legged on the bed with the blackout blinds open feels like you’re on a magic carpet, floating high above the city’s never-ending glow.

Rooms and prices

#4 The Connaught, Mayfair

the connaught

A hotel known for its Englishness, exemplified by its celebrated central staircase (dark and woody bannister, bright and stripy carpet), which apparently inspired Ralph Lauren to commission a replica for his Madison Avenue store. The Connaught Bar is a miniature Art Deco masterpiece and our choice for best bar in London. Both Hélène Darroze’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant and Jean-Georges at The Connaught are excellent (the latter with a view onto a magical Tadao Ando water sculpture outside).

Rooms and prices

#5 The Lanesborough, Hyde Park

the lanesborough

This is not the place for minimalists, modernists, and lovers of all things sleek, shiny, geometrical, and monochrome. The Lanesborough was an unapologetic riot of Regency splendor. It reopened in 2015, more unrepentant, riotous, and Regency-splendid than ever before. The Royal Suite, at £26,000 per night, is allegedly the most expensive in London – guilty as charged – but certain Junior Suites are among the most charming and cleverly designed hotel rooms anywhere. The renowned Library Bar and cigar terrace remain largely unchanged. Céleste, the main restaurant, is one of the most spectacular dining rooms in town, with decorative cues from Wedgewood and daylight from God via a gorgeous ‘sky dome.’

Rooms and prices

#6 Nomad London, Covent Garden

nomad london covent garden

Despite the Ace Hotel’s departure from the city, London is experiencing something of a USA revival, with The Standard opening in King’s Cross and the Mondrian opening in Shoreditch. In addition, the first NoMad outside the United States opened earlier this year in a palatial former magistrates’ court opposite the Royal Opera House. It came with some expectations – after all, the original put a whole New York City neighborhood on the map, with its Dirty Martini-fueled bar becoming an overnight sensation – but it has smashed them. The main restaurant, in a luminous, almost neoclassical atrium draped with greenery, had been booked for weeks and was a must-see destination.

There’s plenty of showmanship here, but it’s more Noel Coward than PT Barnum: vintage chandeliers in brass and crimson, mohair and damask, opera house mural painters involved in the decor. The bedrooms and bathrooms are decorated in golden Twenties Art Deco, while the main areas are decorated in a transatlantic connoisseur spirit, with big-brushed abstract expressionism propped up on the floor, Hopi kachina dolls beside the fireplace, and a mix of Victoriana and art history on the walls (thanks to hotelier Andrew Zobler’s grandmother, who owned an antiques shop).

The Library bar has shelves and shelves of books, but a tour of the adjacent new Bow Street Police Museum, birthplace of London’s first force, which has seen the Krays, Oscar Wilde, and Emmeline Pankhurst pass through its cells, can’t compete. Shakers in the tavern-esque Side Hustle rattle like sidewinders, mixing up fancy American-style cocktails. This hotel is forward-thinking but surprisingly intimate, and it deserves a standing ovation.

Rooms and prices

#7 Ham Yard Hotel, Soho

ham yard hotel soho

First and foremost, it has its own bowling alley. No less than a 1950s bowling alley imported from Texas. Kit Kemp’s design sense continues to impress after nine properties. Her love of acid accents, contemporary art, and rampant eclecticism lends its own unique energy to the space. Nothing about Ham Yard’s public spaces screams “hotel.” Sink into a chintzy armchair in front of an open fire with a book from the library shelf, or nibble on a savory tartlet in the drawing room served on Kemp for Wedgwood china – the tone is almost clubby. Only better, since clubs lack bowling alleys.

Rooms and prices

#8 Lime Tree Hotel, Belgravia 

lime tree hotel

This townhouse conversion on Ebury Street is a masterclass in maximizing eclectic style in a small space. It also keeps a difficult promise: an elegant hangout that feels like home, in a great location, at a reasonable price. The property was opened in 2008 by Matt and Charlotte Goodsall, who quickly transformed it into the area’s loveliest little boutique hotel and the best affordable hotel in London. During the 2020 lockdown, they reframed the challenge as an opportunity, redesigning the interiors and adding a new café. The couple enlisted the help of architects Fraher & Findlay, whose previous work includes Wolf & Badger in Coal Drops Yard, but relied on their own taste for the decorative details, sprucing up corners with Sanderson wallpaper and Pooky lampshades.

The 28 bedrooms range in size from minuscule to moderate, but this only adds to the country-cottage coziness. Teal velvet headboards, mountains of ikat pillows, and marmalade-colored armchairs (thoughtful reading material is provided – ours was Aesop’s Fables) ensure that even the smallest space is optimized. Single rooms are less expensive, so solo travelers are well taken care of. Stefano Cirillo, who previously worked at Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill, is in charge of the Buttery kitchen. Breakfast consists of perfectly executed classics such as avocado on sourdough with runny eggs, chocolate-spread-layered French toast with berries, and a full English with halloumi, all accompanied by the aroma of freshly ground Gentlemen Baristas beans and crunchy pastries from the bakery down the road. On late summer evenings, the back garden is a tiny haven for chatting. It’s a sweet miniature that has all the elements needed and charm in spades, just like the rest of the house.

Rooms and prices

#9 The Berkeley, Hyde Park

berkeley hyde park

The Berkeley is managed by the Maybourne Group, which also manages Claridge’s and The Connaught. It is similar to both but not quite the same. There are no heritage trappings on this child of the early 1970s; instead, the look is cool, low-key, and non-specifically modern. Soothe your aching muscles and find peace at the Blue Bar or the health club, which houses one of London’s best spas. The views of Hyde Park are spectacular, and the rooftop pool is as lovely as a picture, albeit too small for anyone who wants to swim. Andre Fu’s 278-square-metre Opus Suite, on the other hand, is a spectacular space with even more impressive views.

Rooms and prices

#10 The Mayfair Townhouse, Mayfair

the mayfair townhouse

The minds behind classic country-house hangouts Cliveden and Chewton Glen have created a sharp new city offshoot for any of their devoted guests who want to spend the night in a London hotel. However, there is no hint of a rural familial connection. Instead, the Half Moon Street address pays homage to the frilly artistic folk of the nineteenth century: there’s a playful dose of Alice in Wonderland meets The Importance of Being Earnest (the play is set on the same street), with nods to Oscar Wilde’s characters’ flamboyance and quirky coloured graphic art referencing motifs from down the rabbit hole.

It could all come across as gimmicky, but restraint and a Claridge’s-like appreciation for Art Deco have resulted in moody, masculine, and smart rooms. Some have a tiny quiet garden terrace to retreat to, which is unusual for central London, while others specialize in marble. The building sprawls grandly across 15 converted Georgian houses, a few of which are Grade II-listed, and a select few of the jewel-toned suites have views of the leafy Green Park below. The real highlight, however, is The Dandy Bar on the ground floor, a gleaming mirror-and-plush-leather speakeasy serving a smooth cocktail menu alongside dishes like chicken cobb salad and steak frites.

If you can drag yourself away from your bar stool, Shepherd Market and Kitty Fisher’s restaurant are just around the corner, the Royal Academy is a quick 10-minute walk down Piccadilly, and 5 Hertford Street is a late-night stumble away. A brilliant new spot in a town that already knows how to have a good time.

Rooms and prices

#11 Sea Containers London, Southbank

sea containers london southbank

Designer Tom Dixon went all-in on the maritime theme here, transforming Sea Containers House, a massive office building on the south bank of the Thames, into a hotel modeled after a transatlantic liner. A transatlantic liner, on the other hand, that makes expressive use of a distinctly non-nautical palette while also referencing Art Deco, Pop Art, and disco (velvet banquettes in mimosa-yellow, wardrobes in bubblegum pink, staff uniforms in baby blue). Outside, the Tate Modern is to your left, Shakespeare’s Globe is to your right, and the entire city of London appears to spread out before you beneath the balcony of the hotel’s brilliant, brassy rooftop bar 12th Knot. See our full Sea Containers, South Bank review.

Rooms and prices

#12 The Ritz, Piccadilly

the ritz piccadilly

In recent years, there have been a few changes at The Ritz. Above all, there was the renovation of the Rivoli Bar (which serves the best cocktails in London) and the acquisition of the magnificent William Kent House next door, which had been Cesar Ritz’s dream since he built the hotel in 1906. The main public spaces, however, have remained largely unchanged, including the adored Palm Court and dining room, which are aligned along the sumptuous gallery that runs the length of the building, from Arlington Street at one end to Green Park at the other. You still get the impression, aided by the rich, warm, golden glow of this section of the hotel, that you’ve been preserved in amber. The rooms have not been touched by celebrity interior designers, and they retain their original Louis XVI style and a lustrous palette of pinks, yellows, and blues. Ravishing.

Rooms and prices

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