The Dorchester, Claridge’s, the Savoy, the Ritz – London’s venerable 5-star hotels are famous the world over. They’re icons, intimately tied with the history of the city and beacons of stately luxury in a world where Airbnb more often nabs headlines.
But for some, “stately luxury” translates to “stuffy”. These travellers long for a different kind of stay, one with modern design, hip eateries, and artistic sensibilities. One where Instagram influencers line the lobby bar and a celebrity could be snoozing in the room next door. Like London itself, these hotels are trendy, eclectic, fashion-forward, and innovative.
The city’s accommodations scene is evolving by the second, but these ten extraordinary and impeccably designed lodgings are the coolest hotels in London right now.
Despite receiving the 2016 “London Hotel Of The Year” Cesar Award from Good Hotel Guide, the Artist Residence remains relatively under the radar in the London hotel world. Perhaps it’s due to its diminutive size – with just ten rooms, it’s not setting any records for capacity, but what it lacks in volume it makes up for in style. The rustic-luxe décor is part vintage, part modern urban, and just a touch theatrical. A buzzy cocktail bar (64 Below) and restaurant (64 Degrees) complete the concept.
Ace Hotel London Shoreditch
The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch is a US import bursting with ultra-cool downtown NYC vibes. The aesthetic is industrial chic, with stripped-back furnishings and a chilled out colour palette. The lobby bar, juice bar, coffee shop, and wood-clad brasserie Hoi Polloi are big hits with the hipster set. Spring for a more expensive room and your digs will include a Rega turntable with a selection of vinyl and an acoustic Martin guitar. There’s also a record shop and performance venue in the building.
citizenM hotel London Bankside
citzenM is a stylish yet affordable way to experience the English capital. The hotel ditches some more conventional comforts, like bellboys and pillow chocolates, in favour of gifting guests a range of free features. A stay at citizenM includes free movies, free Wi-Fi, and a fridge filled with free goodies (so no more panicking because your mate moved something in the minibar). The design is fun, funky, and colourful – slightly futuristic, but always welcoming. Don’t forget to explore the on-point book selection in the living room-style lobby.
The Hospital Club
Meet the only hospital you’ll be happy to check into. The Hospital Club is a private members club in Covent Garden catering to the creative industries. Members, guests, and clients can stay in the luxury boutique hotel extension and receive full access to the Club’s facilities (including a restaurant, a screening room, lounges, rooftop terraces, and a live performance space). Each of the 15 rooms has its own unique identity courtesy of artists from the Club’s Art Programme commissioned to curate and exhibit their work.
The Ampersand Hotel
Modern design meets historic London at South Kensington’s Ampersand Hotel. The building is a late 19th century townhouse conveniently located near museums, Harrods, and Hyde Park. The interiors are fresh and elegant, with a dash of Victorian whimsy inspired by the hotel’s 1888 heyday and the neighbourhood’s cultural institutions. Highlights of the hotel include a colourfully eclectic lounge boasting contemporary art and quirky knickknacks, along with an underground cocktail bar and a 24-hour gym.
The Rookery is pure period charm located a short distance from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England. Polished wood panelling, stone flagged floors, open fires, clawfoot baths, and antique furniture give the space a warm and cosy atmosphere (although modernity isn’t forgotten – there’s free Wi-Fi and an honesty bar downstairs). The ultimate guest experience is found in The Rook’s Nest, a two-storey penthouse suite The New York Times called “straight out of James Bond.”
Good news for the trendy east London set: you don’t need to be a member to stay at the Shoreditch outpost of the Soho House empire. The 26 minimalist rooms are open to all, though non-members pay a little more for the privilege. All guests are granted access to the members’ club next door to indulge in its world-famous eating, drinking, and fitness facilities (not to mention the celebrity spotting). Visits to the Cowshed Spa, the rooftop pool, and the picturesque Lazy Lawn are musts.
Found in Clerkenwell and Marylebone, the Zetter Townhouses are fuelled by a passion for superb cocktails, sumptuous food, sensational parties, and the perfect slumber. The Clerkenwell location is a 13-bedroom Georgian townhouse with an award-winning cocktail lounge and charmingly outlandish décor. The Marylebone location is a 24-bedroom townhouse with a spectacular rooftop apartment accessed via it’s own staircase. If the townhouses are both booked up, there’s also a Zetter Hotel nearby.
The Hoxton Shoreditch, opened in 2006, aimed to provide style without sacrificing value. The approach proved to be a wise one – a second Hoxton opened in Holborn in 2014, followed by The Hoxton Amsterdam in 2015. New York City, Paris, Southwark, and Chicago are now in the works. Each edition has its own character, but in all you can expect clever design, a free light breakfast bag dropped in the morning, destination dining and drinking, and Hoxtown, a varied programme of monthly events curated by local creatives.
It’s hard to beat Blakes for sheer eccentricity. The dramatic (some would say campy) hotel was and still is one of London’s best and most unique boutique hotels. Converted from a set of Victorian town houses in 1978, the Blakes Hotel is the brainchild of celebrity designer Anouska Hempel. The rooms are densely decorated, borrowing liberally from cultures across Europe and Asia, with plush canopy beds and marble baths. If you’re prone to sensory overload, this is not the place for you.