London’s best contemporary hotels


By Lucy Thackray

Commissioning editor at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

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SEPTEMBER 2017

A new generation of stylish stays are joining the like of The Ritz and Claridge’s on the London travel bucket list. Lucy Thackray, commissioning editor at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine shares five contemporary hotels that are sure to leave their mark in the decades ahead.

Rosewood London

The lowdown: Sashaying into this cobbled courtyard, hidden behind a grand Edwardian façade, feels far more of an event than entering many of London’s grand old dames. Inside, the snug wood-panelled Scarfes Bar is the capital’s most romantic nightcap spot, and grand marble staircases lead to plush, understated suites – all crisp white linen and leather armchairs. You’ll feel like a celeb, but a press-shy one – think more William and Kate than Kim and Kanye.

What to check out: No trip to the capital is complete without a sip of gin and the Gin Bar at the Holborn Dining Room has over 300 to choose from, from traditional London Dry to the weird and wonderful.

Book a stay at the Rosewood London

  • Relax and rejuvenate in the chic rooms at ME London.

    ME, myself and I

    Did you know that ME London – overlooking Somerset House – once housed the BBC Headquarters?£266 pp

    Book a stay at ME London
  • Take a dip in the Shangri-La’s pool with its panoramic views of the city skyline.

    High life

    The tallest building not only in London but in Western Europe as a whole, The Shard is home to restaurants, offices, a viewing platform and the luxurious Shangri-La hotel.£632 pp

    Book a stay at Shangri-La at The Shard
  • Indulge on the best of British cuisine at Berners Tavern.

The Corinthia London

The lowdown: This former British government building has built-in romance and design features to die for, but it hasn’t rested on its laurels – it sealed icon status by opening London’s most devastatingly luxurious spa. With treatments from £140, it’s high-end stuff, but the polished granite and marble amphitheatre-style sauna and minimalist fireplaces feel as decadent as a Bond villain’s underground lair. The location is sociable – stumbling distance from West End theatres, Covent Garden shopping and dining, Trafalgar Square and the Thames – yet somehow feels sanctuary-like.

What to check out: Don’t miss afternoon tea in the dazzling Crystal Moon Lounge with its incredible orb-shaped chandelier.

Plan your visit to The Corinthia London

A new wave of iconic hotels has been taking over the capital to offer a modern take on luxury stays in London, side-by-side with the famous classics.

ME London

The lowdown: Listen closely and you can hear its history whispering through the walls – this striking corner building once housed London’s original BBC headquarters. Today, young professionals flock to sip martinis with river views at its exclusive Radio Rooftop Bar, and from the second you enter the glossy monochrome lobby, there’s a delicious designer scent that’s a wink to its European brand, Melia. The best bit? Its peaceful snow-white and dove-grey rooms overlook Somerset House, the River Thames and artsy Covent Garden.

What to check out: Its peaceful snow-white and dove-grey rooms designed by the world famous firm of architects, Foster + Partners overlooking Somerset House and the River Thames.

Book ME London

  • Treat yourself to a tipple at the sumptuous Punch Room at London EDITION ©Nikolas Koenig.

Shangri-La at The Shard

The lowdown: The hotel is inside the most iconic peak of London’s skyline, which means floor-to-ceiling glass walls, heady heights, and the best lofty view in town. Like its origins (a mishmash of Qatari funding and Italian design), the Shangri-La channels London’s international business scene – there’s a cosmopolitan Asian feel to the suites, with lashings of oyster and pale-gold satin, and a traditional Chinese-feel tea salon.

What to check out: Plunge into the hotel’s 623ft-high indoor infinity pool indoor on level 52.

Treat yourself to a stay at Shangri-La at The Shard

The London EDITION

The lowdown: When this Fitzrovia property opened in 2013, the buzz was all about its sharp Ian Schrager design. A few years on, it’s just as loved by the fashion and culture crowd for its dimly lit, velvet-trimmed Punch Room bar, and wood-panelled, cream-curtained suites that feel like a particularly fabulous yacht cabin. Nab a table at A-list bistro Berners Tavern when you book – feasting on smoky ox-cheek mac-and-cheese beneath high ceilings and gilt-framed portraits is a key part of the EDITION experience.

What to check out: Stare in amazement at the wall behind the bar of Berners Tavern, jam-packed with art and a wall of alcohol.

Discover The London EDITION