London hotels for every traveller

By Francesca Syz

London-based travel editor

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October 2017

With a reputation as a global capital of finance, art and culture, London isn’t short of accommodation options. Whether you’re looking for a convenient business base in Canary Wharf or a family-friendly option near the sights, London-based travel editor Francesca Syz shares her essential London hotel guide.

For couples: ME London

The lowdown: Brilliantly located across the street from Somerset House, ME London feels glamorous from the moment you’re handed your welcome glass of Prosecco at check in. Enjoyably futuristic throughout, the soaring, pyramid-shaped marble atrium on arrival sets the scene nicely. Expect sleek white bedrooms, some with balconies, two great restaurants and the show-stopping Radio Rooftop Bar. Pop to Somerset House for al fresco concerts and music screenings in the summer and ice-skating in the winter.

In the know… You may have to plan ahead a bit to get a table but dinner at Henrietta, Ollie Dabbous’ fabulously imaginative new modern seasonal bistro is a complete treat – try the grilled flatbread heaped with crab and crème fraiche – and just a five-minute walk away in Covent Garden.

Book a stay at ME London

Brilliantly located across the street from Somerset House, ME London feels glamorous from the moment you’re handed your welcome glass of Prosecco at check in.

  • The grand exterior of Strand Palace Hotel.

    Heart deco

    Back in the roaring 1920s, the Strand Palace Hotel underwent a glorious Art Deco redesign, including a glamourous foyer so emblematic of the style, it is now exhibited by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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For business: DoubleTree by Hilton London, Docklands Riverside

The lowdown… Housed in a converted 17th-century riverfront warehouse in Rotherhithe with two contemporary wings, this is a great choice for those doing business in the city. A 20-minute taxi from London City Airport to the hotel, its complimentary ferry shuttle will whisk you across to Canary Wharf in three minutes. From Canary Wharf, you can catch the Thames Clipper river bus into town or hop onto the DLR to Bank or the Jubilee Line into the West End. While it may not win any design awards, it’s a good, comfortable hotel with an excellent buffet breakfast and a loungy riverside terrace for late-night Cuban mojitos.

In the know… To really enjoy the setting, ask for a river view room in the historic, exposed-brick four-story Wharf Wing.

Book a stay at DoubleTree by Hilton London Docklands Riverside

For a budget: Holiday Inn London, Kensington High Street

The lowdown… This hotel may not be as eye-catching as its upmarket Kensington neighbours, but it makes up for that in many other ways. Not only is it more affordable than most other hotels in the area, it’s also just a two-minute walk from Kensington High Street Tube station, has a big indoor pool – a rarity in a budget London hotel – and a leafy little garden for al fresco dining and drinks.

In the know… Add a bit of glamour to your stay without breaking the bank with a visit to the High Street Kensington outpost of boho Soho cocktail bar Balans Soho Society. It’s fun at any time of day – from the excellent Soho Full English breakfast to its late night Lychee Gimlet cocktails.

Book a stay at Holiday Inn London, Kensington High Street

  • A deluxe room at DoubleTree by Hilton London, Docklands.

    East side allure

    For stunning views over Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline, try the DoubleTree by Hilton’s al fresco Terrace, where the first Thursday of every month sees a superb (pre-booking only) Macallan scotch and cigar tasting session.

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  • Dim sum is served at The Grosvenor Hotel’s Grand Imperial Restaurant.

    The royal neighbourhood

    It’s not all about Buckingham Palace. Other royal sites within 20 minutes of the hotel include St James Park (the oldest of London’s eight royal parks), Spencer House, built for the first earl of Spencer, and Clarence House, home to Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

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  • The swimming pool at Holiday Inn Kensington High Street.

    Calm in the capital

    Not content with the hotel’s small garden? The Holiday Inn Kensington High Street is conveniently close to Kensington Gardens, Holland Park, Hyde Park and Queen’s Gate Gardens.

    Book a stay

For the family: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

The lowdown… This sleek, glass hotel – which is a two-minute walk from Westminster Bridge – goes the extra mile for families, with spacious bedrooms, goodie bags for each child at check-in and a kid’s menu at the in-house restaurant Brasserie Joël. Children under 12 can stay in their parents’ room and enjoy breakfast for free. Plus you are just moments from The London Eye and Sea Life London Aquarium.

In the know… A ten-minute stroll away, the Garden Museum – which is housed in the deconsecrated church of St Mary-at-Lambeth – has just re-opened after a giant refurbishment, and is a lovely place for lunch – be sure to order the Eton Mess for afters.

Book a stay at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

Best for solo travellers: Strand Palace Hotel

The lowdown: A single room with breakfast cost five shillings and sixpence (the equivalent of about 27p in today’s money) when the Strand Palace Hotel first opened in 1909. Today, they’re a bit more but the hotel still caters brilliantly for solo travellers, with lots of single rooms, six on-site restaurants and bars, 24-hour room service, a gym and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout. Check out the award-winning Carvery & Grill (the 21 day-aged roast rib of beef is wondrous) and The Gin Palace, a gem of a bar featuring over 30 different types of gin. Let the concierge organise theatre tickets and any other excursions.

In the know… The lounge bar is a great place to hang out if you just feel like digging in for the day. Treat yourself to one of its three afternoon teas or catch a live band on the last Thursday of every month.

Book at stay at Strand Palace Hotel

  • The Suite Terrace at ME London.

    Suite dreams

    Just to prove its romantic credentials, the ME London hotel offers guests a selection of ‘Passion Suites’, complete deep-soak bathtubs, feather beds and 24-hour Aura service. 

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For luxury lovers: The Langham

The lowdown: Europe’s original luxury hotel, The Langham, at the top of Regent Street, is the perfect place for an indulgent short break. Be sure to book treatments at Chuan Spa Body + Soul, a Wedgewood Afternoon Tea in the historic Palm Court, and dinner at Roux at the Landau, overseen by father and son dream team Albert Roux OBE and Michel Roux Jr. For drinks, there’s Artesian and now The Wigmore, a modern British tavern offering its own house brew, craft beers, great wine and hearty fare like veal and ham pie.  

In the know… Book to see some of the world’s best chamber music at the gorgeous, intimate Wigmore Hall, a five-minute walk away and famed for its near perfect acoustics.

Book a stay at The Langham

For a one-night stopover: The Grosvenor Hotel

The lowdown: This grand Victorian railway hotel is the only one that can claim to have its own private entrance to the concourse at Victoria Station – which makes it an excellent option for a flying visit, especially if you’re landing at Gatwick (the Gatwick Express will whisk you here in 30 minutes). The hotel is home to a fantastic Chinese restaurant – be sure to order the Peking duck – and a bar, Réunion, with window seats overlooking the concourse, which is heaven for people watching. Should you want to tick off iconic sites, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are all within walking distance.

In the know… For a convivial, buzzing neighbourhood bar – not the easiest thing to find in Victoria – head to Artist Residence, a 10-minute stroll away in nearby Pimlico.

Book a stay at The Grosvenor Hotel