Londoners may not have invented luxury (we’ll credit the French with that, or maybe The Ottomans. The Byzantines?) but they’ve certainly perfected it. From Belgravia to Soho, the capital’s luxury hotels are supersaturated with history, and they emerge from some of the greatest talents on earth. The Savoy’s air-raid shelter was named “the smartest in London”, and The Dean Street Townhouse was the home to Charles II’s mistress. London’s luxury hotels have, over the last century, become so much more than opportunities to splash around wealth (though it does help if you’re happy to do that). They’re gold-leafed, flood-lit, marble lined monuments to opulence and splendor, yes, but they’re also where the world’s greatest architecture and design talent comes together with most revered men and women in hospitality and service. They can transport you in time and take you to unbelievable heights. And after the rivers have been toured and the fish and chips have been consumed, the savvy London visitor should know where to find the best of the best luxury hotels. So if your bank account allows, or you want to take a sneaky daytime peek, we’ve narrowed down the top ten luxury hotels in London to take your breath away and leave you starry eyed.
Old Belgravia is alive and well in Beeston Place, where the Goring has stood for some hundred and five years. What its Mayfair counterparts like the Dorchester and the Ritz offer in proudly displayed adornment, The Goring offers in a subdued voice — think less Versailles and more Buckinghamshire, with autumn tones and a few modern touches. It’s a richly calm hideaway, and its suites live up to its promise of a “unique home from home feel”. The Goring’s “Delightful Queen Rooms” float at close to 450 per night, with fluctuation based on season and occasion. But splash out for the Royal Suite and you could enjoy hand-picked antiques, marble bathrooms, and a life-size portrait of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: The calm inside reflects the total serenity of history-rich Belgravia
The Shard might be London’s most controversial, complex, and — oh yes — BIG piece of modern architecture, but love it or hate it, very few skyscrapers would claim to be “a vertical city”. And in this almost-sci-fi megalith is Shang-Ri-La, The Shard’s own luxury hotel boasting breathtaking views and binoculars in every suite. Book the cool-hued, ultra-stylish Southward Suite to feel like space-age royalty, and luxuriate in their 52nd floor “infinity skypool”. You’ll get to see London from an angle unlike any other, and you can rest easy in the knowledge that you broke off from the classic Mayfair luxury hotel set.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: The air is thin enough that the champagne will go straight to your head!
You can save the artsy cutting-edge for your next London vacation — a stay at the Connaught is all about traditional magnificence and days of yore. But think more pearls-and-martinis yore than milkmaids-and-codpieces yore: The Connaught is like the Savoy’s quiet cousin, a 200-year-old establishment built on reserved elegance and unapologetic Englishness. Tucked away in the quiet winding roads of ultra-posh Mayfair, you might never want to leave the ornamental-ceilinged, roaring-fireplaced premises. With three bars, two restaurants, afternoon tea, Sunday brunch, and an award-winning spa (not to mention actual human butlers), you might have to shuffle around that pesky itinerary of yours.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: It’s in Mayfair’s coziest nook, where you’re never believe youre as close to Oxford Circus as you are.
It’s not all glitz and glam, but if you play your cards right you could live the Mayfair life with Bethnal Green style at Town Hall. From the outside, it might come across as more a sweeping citadel than a classically opulent hotel. But go through its doors and you’ll find just that: it’s as though Vogue’s creative directors took over the hotel from The Shining. One wrong turn and you’ve wandered into The Corner Room, an intimate restaurant made up of all things concept-gastronomy, decorated, seemingly, with relics from a Steampunk convention. Another turn and you’re in an earth-toned, antique-ish corridor that could, without proper lighting, give you the heebie-jeebies. Art deco sconces, almost futuristic rooms, and sexily lit cocktail bars demarcate the stylish mishmash of aesthetics and tastes that culminate in Town Hall’s je ne sais quoi. Scratch that — je sais quoi: utter, enviable cool.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: It’s got two fabulous eateries under one roof: The Typing Room and The Corner Room
Photo courtesy of The Ace Hotel
It may be pushing the definition of a “luxury hotel, but The Ace brings its own unique style to classic London decadence. The Ace embraces all things zeitgeisty, but it does it with a knowing wink and a tasteful eye. It’s streets ahead of the outdated concept of a rock n’ roll hotel (though hotelier Alex Calderwood did add to that flavor of mythos when he passed away in one of the rooms prior to opening), and it’s been slowly garnering a reputation as artistic and culinary hub. Play from an in-room offering of vinyl records on a Rega record player in a suite for around £500, or cozy up in a standard room for a song — around £145, to be precise. Then head downstairs to their rotating selection of club nights. It’s true Hackney-style glamour, for when you feel you’ve maxed out on Mayfair.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: It’s got some of the best cocktails and liveliest nightlife you’ll find in the city.
Photo courtesy of Dean Street Townhouse
If you find yourself at the Dean Street Townhouse, odds are you don’t need to be told why you should be there. Hidden in plain sight, it’s the regular hangout of celebs like Noel Fielding and Sienna Miller, a stone’s throw from its ultra-glam parent company Soho House and the legendary Soho Theatre. And the hotel’s history is as rich as its decor: the structure dates back to 1732 and has hosted the likes of Francis Bacon, Oscar Wilde, Fred Astaire, and King Charles II’s mistress Nell Gwynne. And while the rooms, priced by size at an average of £300-ish for non-Soho House members, might set you back, they offer everything from free-standing in-room Victorian-style bathtubs to serene courtyard access.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: It’s hip and modern and set in the middle of Soho, exactly where the art-eager visitor would want to be stationed.
Bring your compass with you — Claridge’s Hotel has everything that a London visitor could want, and it could take days to explore all of its nooks and crannies, goodies and services. Nestled in — you guessed it — Mayfair, Claridge’s puts you within easy walking distance to Bond Street, Soho, Hyde Park, and Berkeley Square; all the better to enjoy Selfridges and Nobu, if you’ve dined at Claridge’s own award winning restaurant Fera. Go for a tasting menu (with a selection of smoked yolks, Cornish lamb, nasturtium, stewed rabbit) before resting your head in the Grand Piano Suite, styled by Diane von Furstenberg.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: It’s the most sure bet in the city for celebrity-spotting and celebrity-esque luxury.
The Savoy is the ideal destination for the luxury-minded city slicker. It’s smack in the beating heart of The Strand, with the Southbank on one side and Covent Garden’s theatre district on the other. The first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity, The Savoy has a history rich in both invention and scandal. It’s where, in 1923, Egyptian Prince Fahmey Bey was murdered by his wife Marguerite, and it’s where Queen Elizabeth was first seen with Prince Philip. Its guests have included everyone from George Bernard Shaw and members of international aristocracy to Babe Ruth and Amy Winehouse. After a refurbishment, The Savoy still maintains its old world glitz, and rooms like the Junior River Suite are the ideal place to take in the flow of the city from the comfort of your armchair — fitted with “bespoke Savoy furnishings” of course.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: It’s the perfect luxury retreat for the unabashed city-slicker — it’s nothing like the quiet Belgravia hideaways.
For a hotel so renowned for its classical elegance and old-fashioned opulence, The Ritz presented Britain with a lot of firsts. It was the first hotel to provide en suite bathrooms, and the first to allow ladies to enter unescorted (hence its explosively popular afternoon teas). And that same spirit has remained to this day — you just may have to dig through some foie gras and gold leaf to find it. The Ritz’s signature suites are exquisitely maintained monuments to beauty and detail, and spending a night in one is the stuff of life-long aspirations. A flurry of marble, gilt and champagne, The Ritz’s take on accommodation is more Louis the IV than hip boutique (you can head east for that), and its newly renovated William Kent Wing is a hidden treasure which has housed dignitaries and celebrities. (A stay there comes with Rolls Royce airport pickup.)
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: Downstairs, cocktail bar Rivoli, The Palm Court, and The Restaurant remain iconic in their own right.
Photo courtesy of The Dorchester
The Dorchester may just have perfected modern luxury: The Art Deco era hotel has maintained its history and reputation for inter-war decadence, and stepping through its doors is a headrush to the senses. Its suites, particularly the ones inspired by legendary set designer Oliver Messel, are like something out of a colorful Edwardian dream. But what makes The Dorchester stand out from the crowd is its subtle eye for modernity: Its bedrooms serve as an ode to comfort and excess, and its sitting rooms are a stylish stage for paired-down socializing. It’s excess without garishness, offering the kind of elegance that fits into the life of any fabulous Londoner. Downstairs, The Grill cannot be missed: Head chef Christophe Marleix has brought sumptuous innovation to classic British cuisine: Scottish salmon with bearnaise and blue lobster chowder, all in a golden interior space designed by legendary French architect Bruno Moinard.
Recommended for Luxury Hotels because: Its Park Suites, in particular, strike the balance between form and function.