LONDON: A HOTEL GUIDE
Look, London is expensive. You know it, we know it, and even if we didn’t, every guidebook in the world knows it and will inform you of this by page five. So if you’re heading to the capital for a long stay, a budget hotel – or better still, a friend’s sofa – is probably the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re staying for one or two nights, suddenly London’s luxury hotel scene opens right up to you. There are few better cities in the world to have a short term blow-out where the building you’re staying in is as memorable as the city around it. Here, we round up the best London hotels for a short stay with your significant other. They range from the reasonable to the eye-watering, but they all have a special something to recommend them above the rest.
THE ONE WITH…THE HISTORY | The Savoy, The Strand |
London isn’t short of hotels with a proud history, but when it comes to famous heritage, The Savoy remains in a league of its own. Built in 1889, it set a new bar for luxury and the stars of the day were quick to flock to the legendary parties and balls. In 2007 it underwent a three-year refurbishment, or – as the staff label it – ‘restoration’, which is actually a far more appropriate description for what’s been achieved. The hotel now stands as a stylish marriage of Edwardian and Art Deco design, championing its rich history and fusing it with elegant, modern touches. The suites that used to attract the likes of Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin are the height of refined luxury, and the famous American Bar is still one of the best spots in the city to satiate your thirst. For offers at The Savoy, visit Elegantresorts.ae
THE ONE WITH…THE ROOFTOP HANGOUT | Mondrian London At Sea Containers, Southbank |
The Morgan Group’s latest opening is on the vast site of a former shipping company and as a result, a discernible maritime theme can be found throughout. From model ships on display right down to the impressive Tom Dixon-designed ground floor that curves like a ship’s hull from the lobby right to the downstairs riverside restaurant, Sea Containers. In the neighbouring bar, Dandelyan you’ll find a chap called Ryan Chetiyawardana, twice crowned the UK’s best barman and as well placed as anyone to fix you your favourite tipple. On the top floor you’ll find the The Rumpus Room bar, offering incredible views across the river to the city and back towards the West End. After that, pretty much all that’s left to do is ease your way into the next morning, where we’d advise you start proceedings getting ‘Zen’ at the calming, (yet simultaneously dazzling) Agua Bathhouse & Spa downstairs. Morganshotelgroup.com
THE ONE WITH…MUSIC AND SNOW | K-West Hotel & Spa, Shepherd’s Bush |
Now here’s a London hotel that ticks a lot of boxes, but not at the expense of individual identity. K-West Hotel & Spa might not be bang in the centre of town (though it is two minutes from Shepherd’s Bush tube station)
but that means the rooms are a decent size. You also don’t have to pay a fortune to stay here – Dhs600 will get you a bed for the night. More interestingly, it has a distinctly rock ‘n’ roll air, as witnessed by the music biographies in the lounge area, the DJ playing decent music in the lobby at the weekends and the staff decked out in converse shoes and skinny grey/black uniforms. This isn’t some naff attempt to be hip – the hotel is over the road from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and not far from the Hammersmith Apollo, and many famous bands have used the hotel as their base over the years when playing nearby. So that familiar looking guy sitting near you at breakfast? He might actually be famous enough to be able to get away with wearing those sunglasses indoors. Finally, it has a gigantic Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and, in a touch worthy of Dubai, a snow room. It’s perfect for anyone recovering from a big night out. Which is probably most of the other guests at the hotel. In the interests of a thorough reviewing, we also tested this theory and can confirm that the spa really does help. Who says rock stars get to have all the fun? K-west.co.uk
THE BEST ONE FOR…LARGE AND WEALTHY VISITORS | Corinthia Hotel, Embankment |
One of the best things about London’s top hotels is that they are posh in a very old-school British way. But that can be a little intimidating, because unless you’re dressed like a country squire or city banker, you can feel like the staff are just figuring out whether you’ll cause a fuss when they politely ask you to leave.
This makes the Corinthia somewhat unique. Although gloriously opulent the atmosphere isn’t stuffy and neither are the guests or the dress codes. That guy in shabby jeans and a tee-shirt might be a famous author so the doormen clearly figure it’s best to be nice to everyone.
It’s also a bit more like a Dubai hotel in that the lobby area, bars and restaurants are bustling with outside guests at all times of day and night. There’s a lively mix of tourists, leisure travellers, suits, and arty folk meeting for drinks (in fact the hotel has an artist in residence) or using the lobby as a venue for meetings.
The other things you’ll notice about the lobby are the gigantic chandeliers, modern art works, huge bunches of fresh flowers and the mini-branch of Harrods. This attention to luxury is in keeping with its history: it began life in 1885 as the 600-room Hôtel Métropole, before being taken over by the Ministry of Defence for much of the 20th century and the restoration in 2011 has taken it back to those opulent roots. Another reason why there’s always a buzz about the property is the restaurants, which have quickly become destinations in their own right. The Northall serves British cuisine and does some tremendous lunchtime fish dishes, with the menu showing the provenance of the seafood. Massimo is a large, Art Deco inspired room, where high quality Italian food is the speciality. Finally, Bassoon bar offers up cocktails in replicas of Queen Victoria’s glassware, accompanied by live jazz. If you’re more into wellbeing, or just shaking off jet lag, there’s a gigantic four-floor spa that features 17 treatment rooms, a private spa suite, swimming pool, vitality pool, amphitheatre sauna, ice fountain, marble heated loungers and the somewhat futuristic sounding, private sleep pod. But really it is the seven penthouses that make this a destination for the Middle East crowd. They’re huge for starters, ranging from 100m2 to 465m2 making them ideal for families – or after parties of P-Diddy proportions. These aren’t just posh apartments, however. Each one is themed – in a good way – around acting, music, explorers and art. For example, the Musician’s Penthouse has a Steinway grand piano and other instruments dotted about the rooms, a vinyl turntable and a very well curated record collection. Spread over two floors, there are also steps up to a rooftop terrace that has views across London and the nearby River Thames. Of course you get what you pay for so the penthouses aren’t cheap: the price runs well into thousands per night, but you do get your own butler who’ll unpack your case and arrange your socks neatly in the accessories drawer, and who can put a price on that? Corinthia.com
THE ONE WITH…THE BEST VIEWS | Shangri-La, London Bridge |
If you’re looking for an overriding reason to plump for the Shangri-La over any other luxury hotel in London, then the breathtaking views on offer here should provide a fairly formidable one. Located at the top of The Shard – the capital’s tallest, and increasingly iconic glass structure – guests are treated to sweeping views of the entire city at almost every point of the hotel. Despite the obvious advantage of such a formidable setting, there’s no resting on laurels from the hotel and its staff– the rooms are immaculate, both the European-Asian food and cocktails are superbly inventive (at TĪNG and GŎNG respectively) and the indoor pool at (almost) the very top is well worth packing your swimming trunks for. You’ll also find regular Cultural Salon events too – the first was with designer Paul Smith, with more exciting speakers planned for the year ahead. Shangri-la.com
THE ONE WITH…AN ARABIAN TERRACE | Hotel Café Royal, Regent Street |
From the end of Ramadan until August 11th (from midday to midnight), Hotel Café Royal will host a pop-up majlis in celebration of Middle Eastern culture. Restored to its original 19th century splendour, with antique mirrors and gold details, the Grade II-listed Pompadour ballroom and terrace overlooks Regent Street and Mayfair. The lounge will offer a selection of Arabic teas, coffees and shisha on the terrace, while hot and cold mezze and juices will also be available. Guests not staying in Hotel Café Royal signature suites will be able to access the lounge at the discretion of the hotel, so brush up on your Arabic phrases. Hotelcaferoyal.com
THE ONE WITH…THE LOCAL FEEL | Thompson Belgraves, Belgravia |
Anyone who’s stayed in a Thompson Hotel in the US will concede that they have a good thing going on. But how best to describe a Thompson hotel? For starters, each manages to pull off a decidedly neighbourhood feel with a fairly distinct design and atmosphere, while a few common threads help bring the whole piece together. In the wrong hands, details such as the Sixties carpets and ironic piped elevator music shouldn’t work, but Thompson have an ability to pull off ‘cool’ without trying too hard. The rooms are hard to fault as well, sleek, feature-heavy and all making expert use of space.
Another plus in the Belgraves’ tally concerns its location, managing to be both categorically central but still quiet and relaxing. Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Mayfair are all walkable, putting it in decent proximity to numerous London’s hotspots. Alternatively you may decide to just never leave and make use of in-house restaurant Pont St and relaxed mezzanine bar. Thompsonhotels.com
THE ONE WITH…THE PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB | The Hospital Club, Covent Garden |
The Hospital Club has been one of London’s most welcoming and imaginatively ran private members clubs for years, providing the city’s creative professionals with relaxing work spaces and an excellent calendar of art events to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi. Fortunately, this year they opened their door to non-members too, with fifteen hotel rooms that include full use of the club (all from the heart of Covent Garden). The best bit? The rooms are among the most delightful in the capital, full of quirky, interesting features, luxuriously finished with warm wood and stained glass. Thehospitalclub.com
THE ONE WITH…THE BEST SHOPPING | London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, Park Lane |
Having undergone extensive renovations that completed this month – the London Marriot Hotel on Park Lane is now the latest property in the capital to emulate a modern boutique look and feel but housed in a larger property. Impeccable attention to detail of the hotel’s interior is matched by some quintessentially British flourishes, including a collection of Brit artwork throughout and in-room toiletries that come with a Royal seal of approval. For the summer months they operate a “Roofnic” concept — essentially a rooftop picnic destination with views over adjacent Hyde Park. But if you do actually want to feel the grass between your feet, the hotel can deliver picnic basket to guests for some bucolic loafing. But in a city renowned for its for top hotels, it’s the little touches that really set the Marriott apart — from offering you a cheeky tipple when having your shoes shined, to the handy doormen providing a Smint or two when you re-enter from the smoking section outside. For those looking to shop, the hotel is a gold credit-card’s throw from world-famous department store Selfridges, where the Marriott has a special partnership. This offers a VIP shopping package that includes an overnight stay for two with access to executive lounge, complimentary glass of Champagne at Harry Gordon’s Bar & Kitchen or The Corner Restaurant & Champagne Bar and access to VIP area of Selfridges lounge on fourth floor. Plus all your shopping is delivered back to the hotel from the store. LondonMarriottParkLane.co.uk
Article originally by Jeremy Lawrence