*This post includes some PR stays, however, as always, all views are personal to me.
As a city that welcomes millions of tourists each year, London has no shortage of accommodation options, from luxury hotels in the heart of the city to unique stays like on a yacht docked near the River Thames. With plenty of unique and interesting things to do in London, you’ll undoubtedly want to find the perfect London hotel that complements your vibe and enhances your memorable experience in this vibrant city.
I’m a travel consultant and writer who grew up in North London, so I often plan trips here for clients and welcome visiting friends. Over the years, I’ve given hundreds of recommendations on the best hotels to match various travel requirements, including for visitors who want to be near the busiest tourist attractions and others who want to embrace a more local side of the city. It can be tempting to book a franchise hotel that you’re familiar with or just stick to hotels in Central London, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. However, I typically recommend that friends instead look into the many unique hotels tucked away in lesser-known neighbourhoods around London that are just as comfortable, and sometimes even more charming.
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Whether you’re travelling for business, with family, or on vacation, there’s something for everyone in London. Here are my top 10 picks for where to stay.
1. Shangri-La The Shard, London
Shangri-La The Shard, London is a luxury hotel option for tourists who want to splurge. The 202-room property is conveniently located less than a minute’s walk from London Bridge Train and Tube Station. While staying here is pricey, I think it’s a beautiful choice for the ultimate memorable stay or special occasion. The hotel has an indoor pool, sauna, and gym on the 52nd floor, and guests can book private spa treatments like massages in their own rooms.
There are seven on-site restaurants and bars, including the casual Sky Lounge, which serves Sunday brunch, and the dimly-lit Hutong, which serves upscale Northern Chinese cuisine. My favourite option for a drink at The Shard is GŎNG Bar, a champagne and cocktail bar on the 52nd floor. The bar has intimate, plush velvet seating and floor-to-ceiling windows, which I think makes it a sophisticated stop for a nightcap.
Just a short stroll from the Shard, visitors can walk along the River Thames’ South Bank, where you can see landmarks like The London Eye and Big Ben. While staying here is pricey, I think it’s a beautiful choice for the ultimate memorable stay or special occasion. I recommended this hotel to a friend recently who wanted the ultimate luxury spa experience for her birthday, and she loved it.
2. Royal Lancaster London Hotel
For visitors who appreciate nature walks and gardens, I recommend the Royal Lancaster London, a hotel in the Paddington neighbourhood, which has a scenic backdrop of Hyde Park. One of my favourite childhood memories at this park was having picnics and catching the sunset at The Serpentine. This hotel with over 411 guest rooms including stunning suites with 180-degree views across London’s skyline is dog-friendly if you plan on bringing your beloved pet on vacation.
I later went down and discovered the hotel has afternoon tea in a pretty calming space, just behind the hotel lobby, with an assortment of sandwiches, cakes and vegan afternoon tea sweets. I had already made plans for lunch so I took a taxi and picked up at the front of the hotel from the designated taxi parking bay, but next time I think it would have been faster to walk to Paddington Station, which was just a 6 minutes walk, as there was a bit of traffic.
I recommend asking for a room on the highest floor available to get the best possible views of Hyde Park. When I stayed here, I had breakfast on the window bench in my room, overlooking the park and reading a book as it happened to be raining that morning. It was a lovely and serene experience.
3. St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, London
I stayed at the St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel in London for a lovely staycation weekend in central London and let me tell you, the service was impeccable and was giving luxury. I was upgraded to the Premium Courtyard Junior Suite St James’ Court and enjoyed the generous space the suite offered, overlooking the decorative St James courtyard. If you’re looking to take your royal treatment up a notch, then you have to stay at their sister luxury 5-star hotel, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences. I think if the Taj Mahal and Buckingham Palace tied the knot, the Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences hotel would be their baby. Featuring elegant Indian and contemporary British design details, the individually designed suites and residences deliver a luxury yet homey British feel for travellers with families looking for privacy and spacious comfort. This is a 5-star Heritage hotel that’s had a historical presence in London since the 19th century.
Both hotels are perfectly positioned close to Buckingham Palace and Mayfair and guests at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate & St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel can enjoy Europe’s first Jiva spa, offering traditional Indian wellness treatments. I also experienced the award-winning royal afternoon tea at the on-site fine dining restaurant, Kona with a friend and enjoyed the superb service and educational storytelling highlighting the queen’s favourite savoury treats. The sandwiches, scones & cakes were amazing and the details were well thought out! At the moment, you can enjoy the Indian Jasmine Afternoon tea or the secret garden afternoon tea experience from Thursday to Sunday with three seatings each day, 12:00,14:00 and 16:00 hrs for £75pp. The afternoon tea experience makes a great gift to someone special.
4. Sunborn London Yacht Hotel
This 130m long floating hotel with 133 rooms and five suites serves as the UK’s only superyacht hotel, located at Royal Victoria Dock. For visitors looking for a unique romantic haven overlooking alluring river views, which will have you feeling like you’re on a cruise getaway. As the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel is just a five-minute walk away from Docklands Light Rail trains, it’s an ideal starting point for exploring Greenwich’s museums and London’s only planetarium. If you are up for a serious shopping spree, hop on the Jubilee line to Westfield Stratford City, which is Europe’s largest urban shopping centre and leisure destination I haven’t stayed at this hotel yet but I did dine at the yacht’s Lands End restaurant to celebrate my friend’s milestone birthday and it was truly an unforgettable experience with unparalleled views of London.
5. Hotel 55
Hotel 55 vibrant boutique hotel with just a 2-minute walk to North Ealing Tube Station and only 20 20-minute drive from London Heathrow Airport. I’ll choose the double room with garden views as it’s an affordable stay for the economical visitors who are looking for great value for their money. I like how unique each of their rooms is with some having a more modern design and others more artisan. Their staff are really friendly and one of them spoke Spanish which was helpful for some visitors I noticed had come from Spain.
There is a stunning lounge and outside terrace area to enjoy some quiet time. Eat at their restaurant on-site, serving Indian cuisine and a range of drinks at the bar. Guests at the hotel also have access to their limited free parking but I would suggest taking the tube as the Ealing area has good transport links.
6. Room 2, Chiswick
Room 2 in Chiswick, West London is a hometel perfect for environmentally conscious travellers. I stayed here last month and I was impressed by the property’s focus on sustainability. The hotel says it’s 89% more energy efficient than other hotels in the UK thanks to using renewable electricity sources. I loved the brightly-coloured carpets throughout the hotel, which an employee told me are made from recycled fishing nets. The hotel’s furniture is also locally made from natural and recycled materials. I also love the attention to detail, with features such as the bits and bob box, the recycled market bags for shopping, a 3-in-1 recycling bin, the recipe cards for cooking inspo and manual guides for kitchen use.
There’s an on-site gym and a cafe that serves breakfast items and coffee. I worked here for a couple of hours after checking out of my room, and have since returned for casual breakfasts with friends. Another perk offered by Room 2 is the late checkout time at 2 p.m., which I appreciated since it’s uncommon at London hotels, in my experience.
7. Hotel Saint London
Hotel Saint London is a 4-star hotel located near the Aldgate tube station in Shepherd’s Bush neighbourhood. This property has a modern type of vibe, is it luxurious, and elegant without being stuffy. This 13-story building has 267 guest rooms and suites, as well as a 24-hour fitness gym and access to Jin Bo Law Sky bar, one of London’s best rooftop bars with incredible skyline views. This hotel is also home to what I consider one of London’s best rooftop bars, the Jin Bo Law Sky Bar.
I think Hotel Saint London is a great choice for visitors who want an easy commute to some of London’s most famous sites. The hotel is a walkable distance from iconic attractions like the Tower of London and Tate Modern. Nearby, I highly recommend checking out the Sky Garden, an indoor garden providing fantastic views of London and only an 8-minute leisurely walk from the hotel. It’s free to access but you’ll have to book your ticket online in advance.
When I’m in the London Bridge area, I also love to stroll through the Borough Market farmer’s market for fresh produce and delicious food stalls. If you are in the taste and mood for some local shopping, stroll to Borough Market, Spitalfields Markets, Brick Lane and Columbia Road Flower Market.
8. Montcalm East, Autograph Collection
Rediscover your creative side along the way at Marriott’s own Montcalm East, Autograph Collection at the heart of East London. Just a few minute’s drive away is an area called Shoreditch, renowned for its street art, vintage shops and food markets.
Montcalm East, Autograph Collection also features artwork and locally sourced products from local businesses in East London. This innovative hotel features an optical illusion walkway near the reception and is remarkable for its external architectural design of a futuristic style, whose silhouette arouses the curiosity of more than one who contemplates it from afar. My sister was celebrating her birthday here and she appreciated the staff going out of their way to decorate our room with balloons.
With 288 rooms beaming with natural light and floor-to-ceiling city views, guests can request a ring light kit to capture selfies. I also love the enticing idea of a photo lab experience, especially as I enjoy capturing moments through photography with friends and family. Guests can print their photos using the studio’s Polaroid printers. It’s a unique concept that I haven’t experienced in a hotel stay yet. For couples, friends and solo travellers looking to unwind, book the Rose Quartz + truffle spa treatment at Bookeh spa. With a large swimming pool, sauna, steam jacuzzi and well-equipped fitness suite, you can truly rest and reset. Enjoy British classics and signature cocktails onsite at Moor & Mead Restaurant.
9. Z Hotels
If you’re the type of traveller who hardly stays in your room and will spend more time outdoors, I recommend the budget-friendly Z hotels chain, which has 11 locations throughout the city. I stayed at the Z hotel in Holborn with over 100 modern rooms for ease of access as it was conveniently located with unbeatable transport links. They have 11 central locations with accessibility to a variety of sightseeing venues in a matter of minutes.
Stay at Z Soho to be close to London’s best theatres, Z Trafalgar to see some of London’s most recognised landmarks, the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, and Z Holborn for museum and history lovers since it’s near the British Museum and London Transport Museum. If you fancy a range of restaurants, galleries, bars, and boutique shops, I recommend the Z Covent Garden.
In each hotel, the air-conditioned rooms are compact and designed with smart features, including a flat-screen TV with a free selection of Sky Sports and Sky Movies and an electric kettle. There’s also free Wi-Fi and the hotel is well equipped with rooms for wheelchair accessibility. I was particularly impressed with their option for family rooms as it is quite a compact and cosy stay. As the location was central, I was able to find a variety of cuisines locally to dine in or order from Uber Eats. The hotel also offers a lovely continental breakfast and I would definitely recommend their warm pain au chocolat.
10. The Adria Hotel
The Adria Hotel is a charming and historical 1870 boutique Victorian townhouse in South Kensington offering a butler service. I stayed here this summer when I needed to be close to South Kensington for an event and this residence feels a lot like home. I rang the doorbell to enter and was greeted by staff who walked me down the h red-carpeted entryway.
Whilst I waited to be checked in, I appreciated the beautiful floral scent along the lobby and the glass of prosecco. I was welcomed and enjoyed the gentle jazz music playing in the background. There are 24 suites with an English countryside feel and refined comfort with each room named after a memorial location in London. Key characteristics of the Wimbledon room I liked were the high floor-to-ceiling spacious rooms, underfloor heating and discrete Marble interior bathroom which looked like a wardrobe before you opened it up.
11. South Place Hotel
South Place Hotel is a modern boutique hotel located in Finsbury, a bustling commercial area in East London. The hotel offers quick connectivity to the west end using the Elizabeth line and is just minutes away from Liverpool Street Station, making it an ideal spot for travellers exploring Central London. It’s also about a 15-minute walk from the historic St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was built between 1675 and 1711, and was where Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married in 1981. The hotel’s 80 rooms range from top-floor lofts to an apartment-style suite that has three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a kitchenette. Another suite, called ‘The Pad,’ is made up of adjoining bedrooms with a king-sized bed and two twin-sized beds, which I think would be a great choice for a family or group of friends.
All of the rooms at South Place Hotel have mini bars, Nespresso machines, and Dyson hair dryers, and the larger suites are also stocked daily with sodas and snacks, free of charge. But one aspect that makes this hotel stand out for me is how it embraces contemporary and urban art. There’s an on-site art gallery that displays rotating exhibitions, and artwork throughout the hotel sourced from local London galleries. For art lovers like me, you will appreciate stepping into your very own intimate art gallery.
The hotel has a handful of onsite dining options, including a steakhouse, a rooftop terrace and the secret garden which is absolutely stunning. If you’re a foodie, and looking for modern British classics, I recommend making reservations at Chop House restaurant. I caught up with my friend for dinner for a 3-course meal — the seabass meal and fish and chips are incredible.
In conclusion, London is a city teeming with diverse and exceptional hotel options to suit every traveller’s needs and preferences. Whether you’re seeking luxury and indulgence, a unique and eco-friendly experience, or a budget-friendly yet comfortable stay, this dynamic city has it all.
With such a diverse array of hotels to choose from, London’s thriving hospitality scene ensures that your stay in this vibrant city is nothing short of remarkable. Whichever hotel you choose, you’re in for an unforgettable experience that will complement your exploration of London’s rich history, vibrant culture, and captivating attractions.
Which hotel would you love to stay in?