For couples: The Ampersand
The lowdown: If the thought of towel-art, rose petals and lukewarm bubbly is more likely to kill your romance than stoke its embers, then book into the Ampersand for a more original experience. This quirky hotel has fun interiors with velvet and ornithological wallpapers, a High Tea inspired by the nearby Science Museum and a restaurant set in a completely renovated 19th century vault. May the Ampersand mark the beginning of your new love affair with London’s eccentric side.
In the know… Upgrade to a Deluxe Room for even more charming décor and a sumptuous velvet bedhead. But you won’t get ‘bed-head’ yourself – thanks to L’Occitane beauty products in your bathroom.
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.
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.£204 ppBook a stay
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.
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.
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.£170 ppBook a stay
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.£175 ppBook 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.
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.
Don’t miss brunch
The Apero restaurant serves brunch until 3pm – order an Aperol Spritz and Full English or a vegetarian breakfast – featuring eggs any way you like them.£326 ppBook a stay
For luxury lovers: The Rosewood
The lowdown: When the beautiful Rosewood reopened in 2013, it was a masterclass in restoration. This positively palatial 1912 building has resplendent marble and mahogany interiors, open fires, modern bedrooms – and a friendly hotel dog, Pearl. (The golden retriever happily greets travellers at reception, some of whom follow her Instagram account.) The gentlemanly Scarfe’s Bar is perfect for an evening spent in armchairs, ordering an excess of cocktails, whilst Holborn Dining Room is a busy brasserie that stocks London’s largest collection of gins.
In the know… For lofty ceilings, choose a room on the lower floors – the first-floor rooms are tall as can be.
For a one-night stopover: Rembrandt
The lowdown: If you’ve only got limited time in London, then it’s all about location, location, location. The Rembrandt is near South Kensington tube, so you can get the Piccadilly line straight to and from the Heathrow terminals. What’s more, go the other way on the line and you can be at Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Leicester Square in minutes. Then, there’s what’s on your doorstep: the Rembrandt is opposite the V&A museum and within walking distance from Harrods. The hotel fits in well with its neighbours. Set in a converted Edwardian building, it’s a quiet, comfortable four star with an adjoining health club.
In the know… Every room at the Rembrandt comes with a smartphone preloaded with 4G data, maps and free calls. Book that show, grab that bus, and call home to tell everyone just how well your whistle-stop tour is going.