The best hotels to see the sights


By Jack Palfrey

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October 2017

London is a specialist in sapping tourists’ time, before you know it you’re leaving the city having skipped your most-anticipated monument. The best way to ensure you don’t miss out? Choose a hotel near the sights. Jack Palfrey suggests nine hotels that pair perfectly with some of the city’s premier landmarks.

Best for the London Eye: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

The lowdown: Overlooking London’s most whimsical landmark, the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge sits on the eclectic South Bank, a happening hub of riverside cafes, exhibition spaces and street performances. While the bustling neighbourhood – and the Eye – can leave some visitors in a spin, R&R is on offer at the hotel’s luxury spa and Brasserie Joël restaurant, which both specialise in slowing the pace of city life.

In the know… This hotel is perfect for families, with over half the bedrooms able to accommodate a family of four.

Book a stay at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

Here the only shackles guests need to break from are their in-room iMacs, the only shock is the vistas from the rooftop Skylounge and only submission is to the delicious complimentary chocolate chip cookie on arrival.

Best for Buckingham Palace: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane

The lowdown: Visit the Queen’s living quarters in suitable style with a stay at the regal Sheraton Grand London Park Lane. With guests granted enviable bedroom views overlooking Green Park, 32” HD plasma televisions and portable Wi-Fi devices, as well as the option of a traditional English afternoon tea, don’t be surprised to see Her Majesty herself checking in for the weekend.

In the know… During the months of August and September visitors are permitted to tour the inside of Buckingham Palace, when the Royal Family spend much of their time in Scotland.

Plan your stay at Sheraton Grand London Park Lane

  • Amba Hotel Charing Cross has retained its Victorian period details, including the sweeping staircase © Press Image.

    Trip down memory lane

    Once one of London’s magnificent 19th-century railway hotels, the four-star Amba Hotel sits majestically above Charing Cross station. There are clues to its Victorian history at every turn, from the magnificent facade to its wide, wood-panelled corridors and marble-pillared ballroom.£314 pp

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  • Wallow in style at the luxe Conrad London St James in the heart of Victoria © Press Image.

    Walk the talk

    A stone’s throw from the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and St James’ Park, the five-star Conrad London St James offers a curated list of 1-, 3- and 5-hour tours, designed to reflect a local take on culture, art, food and adventure.£357 pp

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  • Marvel at the jaw-dropping beauty of the glass roof at the British Museum Great Court © Alamy.

    A night at the museum

    You could spend an entire week in the British Museum - where the astonishing collection spans over two million years - and still not see everything. So it might be a good idea to book yourself into the nearby President hotel, which offers spotless suites in the heart of Bloomsbury.£171 pp

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Best for the Tower of London: Doubletree by Hilton Tower of London

The lowdown: While a spell in the country’s most famous prison was far from luxurious for inmates, a stay in the neighbouring Doubletree by Hilton imbues elegance. Here the only shackles guests need to break from are their in-room iMacs, the only shock is the vistas from the rooftop Skylounge and only submission is to the delicious complimentary chocolate chip cookie on arrival.

In the know… Arrive early at the Skylounge to snag a seat on the terrace for sunset views over the tower and wider cityscape. And of course, don’t forget to stop by and see the crown jewels.

Treat yourself to a stay at Doubletree by Hilton Tower of London

Best for the British Museum: President

The lowdown: With its classic Bloomsbury setting and striking glass-domed lobby the President could almost pass for a grand museum exhibition itself. Fortunately there’s nothing dated about the well-priced hotel’s array of services and amenities, including a selection of spotless suites, complimentary Wi-Fi access and a 24-hour reception. Plus, the British Museum is just an easy 10-minute stroll away.

In the know… Struggling for time? Consider booking onto the museum’s curated tour, Around the World in 90 Minutes, which runs every Saturday and Sunday.

Book your stay at President

  • The expansive presidential bedroom at Sheraton Park Lane doesn’t disappoint in the luxury stakes © Press Image.

    Divine Deco

    The Art Deco fabulousness of the Sheraton Park Lane is not to be missed (the ballroom is so spectacular it’s Grade II-listed). If you can tear yourself away from all that opulence, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Mayfair with its elegant shops, exclusive art galleries and oh-so-fashionable eateries.£347 pp

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Best for the V&A Museum: Rembrandt

The lowdown: A must for culture vultures, the Rembrandt grants guests easy access to some of the city’s premier cultural highlights, including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and spectacular V&A – the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. The hotel itself oozes sophistication, from the resplendent rooms (all with complimentary Wi-Fi) to the sleek 1606 Lounge Bar, offering traditional afternoon tea by day and expertly mixed cocktails by night.

In the know… Rooms at the Rembrandt include the use of a handy smartphone that comes with unlimited 3G data, Google Maps and Tube and travel updates – perfect for exploring the city.

Plan your stay at the Rembrandt

Best for the Houses of Parliament: Conrad St James

The lowdown: The sense of majesty that emanates from the Houses of Parliament is infused into the neighbouring Conrad St James. This luxury 5-star hotel is steeped in heritage, housing Queen Anne’s former chambers – in which guests can still stay – as well as an original Division Bell in the on-site bar, used to recall MPs to Parliament. Modern additions include complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness centre and the on-site Blue Boar restaurant, which serves up contemporary British dishes.

In the know… For a real insight into the history of Parliament (and access to the inside of the building), consider booking onto the popular audio tour, available every Saturday and during parliamentary recesses.

Book your stay at Conrad St James

  • Foodie haven Borough Market is a magnet for those looking to sample gourmet goodies © Press Image/ John Holdship.

    Did you know…?

    Borough Market is the capital’s oldest market, dating back to the 13th-century. Fast forward a few hundred years and the sprawling site near London Bridge is a warren of colourful stalls and stands, selling an eye-boggling array of produce.£270 pp

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  • Marvel at the treasures on display in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the V & A © Press Image/ Alan Williams.

    Turn to stone

    One of the highlights of a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum on the Brompton Road has to be Room 50a, aka The Renaissance City 1350 - 1600. Here you’ll find large-scale works displayed in the context of the cityscape, as well as dramatic sculptures, altarpieces and stained glass.£276 pp

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  • For captivating skyline vistas book yourself into Doubletree by Hilton London - Tower of London © Press Image.

    Room with a view

    At sunset whizz up to the rooftop bar at Doubletree by Hilton London - Tower of London, bag a table by the floor-to-ceiling glass window, order a cocktail and watch below as London becomes a sea of twinkling lights - a more magical experience you’ll be hard pushed to find.£213 pp

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Best for St Paul’s Cathedral: Crowne Plaza - The City

The lowdown: It’s just an eight-minute walk to the iconic Grade I-listed dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, but guests at the Crowne Plaza – The City have the privilege of sampling the city’s heritage without even leaving their accommodation. Situated in the historic Square Mile area of the city, the four-star hotel is constructed on the remains of King Henry VIII’s former Bridewell Palace, and nods to this history with a chic cocktail bar housed in the structure’s subterranean prison cells and bank vaults.

In the know… The hotel runs monthly cocktail-making masterclasses, a great gift or evening activity for visitors who take their tipple tasting seriously.

Find rooms at Crowne Plaza - The City

Best for Borough Market: Hilton London Bankside

The lowdown: Borough Market functions as the capital’s culinary core, offering visitors a smorgasbord of delicious delicacies, from traditional pie and mash to moong dal dosa. This gourmet calibre continues into the neighbouring Hilton London Bankside, where the Distillery Bar on the ground floor serves signature perfume-themed cocktails – a nod to the building’s history as a perfumery. Accompaniments include modern conveniences like bedside USB ports, and on-site facilities such as a heated indoor swimming pool and state-of-the-art spa complex.

In the know… At London’s most renowned food market the crowds can often be fierce during peak times, avoid the chaos by arriving early for lunch then taking your feast to secluded Mint Street Park to tuck in.

Book a stay at Hilton London Bankside

Best for Leicester Square and Soho: Amba Charing Cross

The lowdown: Rub shoulders with Hollywood A-listers at the Amba Charing Cross, a short strut from Leicester Square, and where international film stars flock for lavish film premieres. Even if you don’t spot any celebs, the hotel itself is a beautiful Grade II-listed property providing a taste of the highlife, with rainfall showers, smart TVs and complimentary mini-bar access – just avoid trashing the hotel room.

In the know… the hotel can organise tickets to the majority of West End shows, the rate also includes a three-course dinner and cocktail before the performance.

Plan your trip to Hilton Amba Charing Cross