London hotels for every budget

By Simon Coppock

Photograph courtesy of The Langham

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April 2016

Whether you are looking for a boutique stay, affordable accommodation close to the sights or cutting-edge design, our guide to London’s best hotels will have you covered – whatever your budget.


Budget: Best Western Burns

Best for: Museum lovers

The lowdown: The Burns offers a bit more for your money than its Earls Court budget competitors, with a lounge bar and patio garden named after former resident and Victorian celebrity, actress Ellen Terry.

Stay for: The quaint traditional British Victorian architecture – the hotel is set in a Grade II-listed building.

Know this… This bit of London isn't blessed with much open space, so the tree-lined garden square in front of the Burns is a blessing in summer.

Book a stay at Best Western Burns

  • Bed down in style at Clerkenwell’s Zetter Hotel

    Rooms with views

    For truly jaw-dropping views, book either the Rooftop Superior or Rooftop Deluxe studios. Both have spacious private terraces with sweeping views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Gherkin.

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  • The 17m pool at Hilton London Bankside

    Art attack

    As a nod to its neighbour, the Tate Modern, Hilton Bankside’s walls are adorned with work from British artists, from papier mâché sculptures by David Farrer to a graffiti wall designed by Niki Hare.

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  • Luxury abounds at Rosewood London

    Gin o’clock

    The Rosewood London’s new gin ‘library’ stocks 400 international gins – from Northumberland Gin Company’s Steam Punk Gin to Japanese-inspired Jinzu – and a range of 27 tonic waters, meaning you can choose from 14,035 possible pairings. Cheers!

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Mid-range: Rembrandt

Best for: Classic location, modern style

The lowdown: Minutes from South Kensington’s slew of museums, including the adjacent V&A, and just a pleasant stroll from the high-end department stores of Knightsbridge – Harrods chief among them – the Rembrandt has business-smart interiors behind a reconditioned Edwardian façade.

Stay for: The surprisingly delicious British fare at Palette Restaurant – you may have the world’s best restaurants on your doorstep but it’s worth staying in for.

Know this… Residents get access to the swimming pool, gym and steam rooms at the adjoining, private Aquilla Health and Fitness centre for just £7.50 a day (£2.50 for under-12s).

Book at stay at the Rembrandt

Luxury: The Langham

Best for: Old-school luxury

The lowdown: Laying claim to being Europe's first ‘grand hotel’, the Langham has exuded old-fashioned class since it was new fashioned in 1865. It is still one of the capital’s finest hotels, but without the stuffiness of some of its rivals.

Stay for: The hotel bar, Artesian (so named after the 360-foot deep artesian well beneath the hotel), voted the world's best bar by ‘Drinks International’ every year since 2012, or a sumptuous afternoon tea – The Langham's Palm Court kicked off the whole tradition of formal high teas.

Know this… If you’re having trouble getting a dinner reservation at the hotel’s French restaurant, Roux at the Landau – run by Michelin-starred Michel Roux Jr and his father Albert – opt for a weekday lunch (fantastic value at just £37 for three courses; £45 including a half bottle of wine) or an early Sunday supper.

Book a stay at The Langham

  • Expect high style at The London EDITION © Nikolas Koenig

    The hot table

    With British super chef Jason Atherton at its helm, it’s no surprise that advanced bookings are required at Berners Tavern – luckily, hotel guests can secure a seat. Expect high-end comfort food in the form of fish and chips, classic Sunday roasts and grass-fed British steaks.

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Budget: Aloft London ExCeL

Best for: High design, low price

The lowdown: The multi-storey, new-build Aloft adds a dash of style to the stiffer hotels that crowd the ExCeL conference centre. There are coloured lighting effects and floor-to-ceiling windows in well-appointed rooms connected by smoothly curving corridors, as well as some high-spec facilities, not least the swimming pool. The nearby Emirates Air Line cable car is a fun way to cross the Thames for blockbuster gigs at the O2 Arena, and the hotel offers a free shuttle service to the Canary Wharf hub.

Stay for: The peaceful location by the Thames. Perfect for a pre-morning meeting jog.

Know this… Aloft's self check-in service – just slot your credit card into the machine to receive your key card – is a boon for unfriendly arrival and departure times.

Book a stay at Aloft London ExCel

Mid-range: The Zetter

Best for: Style seekers

The lowdown: The Zetter was a pioneer in Clerkenwell when it opened in 2004 - the area has since grown into a hub for foodies, architects and designers. A remodelled Victorian factory, the hotel combines quietly tongue-in-cheek design, subtly effective tech and relaxed wining and dining. The rooftop studio has spacious private terraces with view of the Gherkin and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Stay for: The atmosphere – the Zetter is all about friendly touches like hot water bottles in knitted cosies, and eco-friendly touches like bottled water from its own borehole and folding bikes to hire from reception.

Know this… Book through British Airways for guaranteed late checkout (until 13:00) and a complimentary box of homemade truffles. And do nip across the courtyard for inventive cocktails in the Zetter Townhouse.

Book a stay at The Zetter

Luxury: Rosewood London

Best for: The high life

The lowdown: In the heart of London's legal quarter, this grand building began life in 1912 as the headquarters of an insurance company. Restored in slavish detail (and with English Heritage approval), the public areas are resplendent with marble and mahogany, fires and leather upholstery. The hotel feels calm and exclusive, across a courtyard from its popular restaurant and bar along the busy main road. 

Stay for: A drink in Scarfes Bar – book-lined, full of velvet-covered armchairs, and hung with innumerable drawings by scabrous British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. Order the signature Thyme Out cocktail – Bombay Sapphire gin muddled with yellow chartreuse, fresh lemon, agave nectars, orange bitters and, of course, fresh thyme. Or try one of 400 gins (London’s largest collection) in the newly-opened Gin Bar at Holborn Dining Room.

Know this… For rooms with the highest ceilings, opt for rooms on the lower floors.

Book a stay at Rosewood London

  • The Rembrandt

    Did you know…?

    The Rembrandt was originally built in 1911 as apartments for Harrods department store – which is just a 10-minute walk away from the centrally-located hotel.

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  • Kensington Close: perfect for sightseers on a budget

    Go green

    Instead of battling the crowds in Hyde Park, head to Holland Park – just a short stroll from Kensington Close. The picturesque green space is home to the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens, complete with a waterfall and peaceful rock pool teeming with koi carp fish.

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Budget: Kensington Close

Best for: Escaping the crowds

The lowdown: Just off Kensington High Street, and only half an hour on the Underground from central London, this is a quiet location for a keenly priced hotel. History has it that this building was commissioned reputedly as a small property on land co-owned by Sir Isaac Newton almost 300 years ago; the Hotel itself was built in 1960, having been originally opened as a Residential Club in 1937.

Stay for: The gym and swimming pool – a rarity at this price point.

Know this… The hotel is just a ten-minute walk from London's loveliest green space, Holland Park, where you can spot free-roaming peacocks.

Book a stay at Kensington Close

  • High spec: Aloft London ExCel

    Access all-hours

    It’s not just Aloft’s self check-in service that makes life easy for guests arriving or departing at anti-social hours. The hotel also has a 24-hour ‘grab-and-go’ food and drink station serving snacks, hot meals and breakfast items.

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Mid-range: Hilton London Bankside

Best for: Culture junkies

The lowdown: This converted perfume factory is just inland of arty Bankside and the South Bank – as reflected in the sometimes edgy wall art that gives a contemporary twist to otherwise business-friendly décor. The hotel has its own restaurant and gin is a specialty at its Distillery bar. Overindulged? There’s a gym and 17m swimming pool.

Stay for: The location – forget the West End, Bankside regained its historic status as London's cultural heartland two decades past: Tate Modern is a short walk away, and theatre (Shakespeare's Globe, the National Theatre), music (the Royal Festival Hall), film (BFI Southbank) and fine food (Borough Market, Maltby Street Market) are just a pleasant stroll away along the river Thames.

Know this… The windows of several rooms look at each other across an interior courtyard – specify or upgrade if this is a problem for you.

Book a stay at Hilton London Bankside

Luxury: The London EDITION

Best for: Urban tastemarkers

The lowdown: This classy hotel by Ian Schrager – the designer behind New York’s Studio 54 in the 1970s and Morgans boutique hotel chain in the 1980s – is neatly situated in subdued Fitzrovia, just across Oxford Street from the buzzy bars and restaurants of Soho. The décor in the two bars (including the terrific reservations-only Punch Room) and fine restaurant (the Berners Tavern) blings up the warmth of traditional wood panelling, while the rooms are more minimalist luxe.

Stay for: Berners Tavern, whose Michelin-starred executive chef Jason Atherton is behind several of the best restaurants in town.

Know this… The hotel may look high-end, but as it is a part of the Marriott chain, there are surprisingly affordable perks, such as room service. Breakfast won’t set you back more than £3.50-£10, while you can get a bottle for under £30.

Book a stay at The London EDITION