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Steeped in history yet infused with an electrifying energy embodied by countless theaters, bars and world-class restaurants, London is the ultimate urban playground. Each borough is its own kingdom. Head to elegant Knightsbridge for unparalleled designer shopping; or to Soho for a unique blend of high culture and debauched revelry. In this round-up, we look at some of the capital’s best accommodation options, from Square Mile business hotels to luxury boutiques in royal Belgravia.
Best Overall: Hotel 41
In a city that excels at luxury accommodations, this five-star hotel is situated a few minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace and stands out for its flawless service. Staff outnumber guests two to one, and with only 30 guestrooms and suites, the level of personalized attention to detail is astounding. All rooms feature stunning monochromatic decor, mahogany furniture, Bose sound systems and free Wi-Fi. Enjoy thoughtful details, including a pillow menu, fresh flowers and gourmet snacks.
Complimentary refreshments are a large part of the Hotel 41 experience. Choose from four different champagnes at check-in or sit down to scones and tea every afternoon. The hotel’s “Plunder the Pantry” system allows you to help yourself to an impressive selection of snacks after a night out on the town. The Executive Lounge serves comfort food classics throughout the day. There's also 24-hour butler service, optional chauffeur service and amenities specially designed for children and pets.
Best Budget: hub by Premier Inn London Westminster, St. James’s Park
There are six hub by Premier Inn hotels in the capital, all of which offer clean, contemporary rooms at affordable rates. Of these, the London Westminster property provides particularly good value considering its enviable location near Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. All rooms are light and airy, with up-to-date technology, including free Wi-Fi, a 40” Smart TV and an app that allows you to control lighting and temperature. Choose a Bigger Room for a little extra space.
The hotel’s Lounge restaurant serves an inexpensive continental breakfast buffet, as well as complimentary tea, coffee and snacks throughout the day. It’s a cheerful spot for dinner and drinks in the evening, although there are also plenty of affordable restaurants within a few minutes’ walk. There is no hotel parking, but St. James’s Park tube station is just across the street. Many of the city’s top attractions are within easy walking distance, allowing you to save money on public transport.
Best Boutique Hotel: The Levin
Renovated townhouse The Levin enjoys an exclusive location in upmarket Knightsbridge near world-famous department store Harrods and the designer flagships of Brompton Road. With just 12 guestrooms, it was voted one of the Top 25 Coziest Hotels in Britain by The Daily Telegraph. Avant-garde design features, including robin's egg blue walls and artistic lighting make this the perfect choice for fashion-conscious travelers. All rooms include Egyptian cotton bedding, a champagne minibar and marble bathrooms with underfloor heating.
Boldly patterned hotel restaurant The Metro treats you to seasonal British cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s also the perfect spot for a classic afternoon tea and for sophisticated cocktails during the weekday happy hour. Guests can also charge meals at Michelin-starred Outlaw’s at the Capital (located next door) to their bill. The Levin offers complimentary Wi-Fi, valet parking and 24-hour room service.
Best for Families: Park Plaza County Hall
The four-star hotel Park Plaza County Hall is a few minutes’ walk from family attractions, including the London Eye and SEA LIFE London Aquarium. Studio rooms include a living area, two TVs, a kitchenette and a pull-out sofa bed for up to two children. For extra space, choose a suite. Kids under 12 stay and eat breakfast for free when sharing a room with two adults; while older kids pay a £30/ night supplement.
Upon arrival, children receive a goody bag with a Sudoku book, an origami animal and vouchers for food and drinks. L’Italiano restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner and has a special children’s menu. There are pizza-making classes on Saturdays, as well as regular movie nights and themed holiday events. When you need a break, escape to Aurora Spa, enjoy a workout in the fitness center or catch up over cocktails at the bar.
Best for Romance: Draycott Hotel
Surrounded by the upmarket shops of Sloane Square, this red-brick Edwardian hotel was built in 1890. It provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway defined by Old World British elegance. Each of the 35 boutique rooms are inspired by the theater, with Edwardian antiques and beautiful patterned fabrics. Choose a spacious suite with a working fireplace and whimsical Cadogan Garden views.
In the afternoon, reconnect with your loved one over complimentary tea and homemade biscuits or with a glass at the daily champagne reception. In the evening, hot chocolate and biscuits are served in the lobby. Although there’s no restaurant, there’s an honesty bar in the lounge and an eclectic room service menu for romantic evenings in. Other amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi and chauffeur and concierge services.
Best Luxury: The Goring
Located in fashionable Belgravia, five-star hotel The Goring shares its immediate surrounds with Buckingham Palace and The Royal Mews. It has been owned and run by The Goring family for over a century. Each suite is individually designed to reflect timeless class, while luxury amenities include a complimentary in-suite cocktail hour and the services of a dedicated footman.
For ultimate luxury, choose the two-bedroom Royal Suite. A private balcony overlooks the Goring Gardens and the rooms are adorned with genuine royal artifacts. The marble bathroom is lined with the same silk used for the Queen’s throne room. Indulge in afternoon tea or savor fine British cuisine at Michelin-starred restaurant The Dining Room. In the evening, sip vintage champagnes and rare wines by the fireplace in The Bar & Lounge.
Best for Nightlife: ME London
Cosmopolitan ME London is ideally placed for exploring the eclectic bars and nightclubs of Covent Garden and the Strand. Some of the area’s best party spots are located on-site, however. Start the evening with bespoke cocktails around the Marconi Lounge’s fire pits. Gourmet steakhouse and seductive cocktail lounge STK London hosts late-night DJ sets - but the highlight is the Radio Rooftop Bar. Here, you can party under the stars while sipping cocktails, sampling Spanish tapas and admiring breathtaking 10th-floor panoramas. During the day, recover in your soundproofed guestroom, where Egyptian cotton linens and cool white tones make relaxation easy. Cucina Asellina serves a restorative full English breakfast and there’s a 24-hour gym on-site.
Best for Business: Apex London Wall Hotel
Located in the heart of the City of London financial district, contemporary Apex London Wall Hotel is a convenient choice for savvy business travelers. The hotel has a private meeting room capable of hosting up to 10 delegates. In the guestrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and free local calls make it easy to stay in touch, while the minibar and TV help you to unwind after a busy day. Wake up with bottomless coffee at the hot breakfast buffet, then head to international restaurant Off the Wall for dinner. Room service is available around the clock and there’s a private fitness studio on-site.
Best Hostel: YHA London Oxford Street
Take advantage of rock-bottom rates at YHA London Oxford Street, a modern hostel located near the fashion stores of Oxford Street and the bars and theaters of Soho. Rooms range from private doubles to mixed-bed dormitories, all with shared bathroom facilities. There’s a self-catering kitchen, a friendly lounge and dining area and a self-service laundry. A continental breakfast is available each morning and you can order alcoholic drinks from reception until 1 a.m. Activities include free walking tours, pub crawls, movie nights and Saturday cream teas at Kensington Palace.