My 6 favourite London hotels
From family-friendly to all-out fabulous, here are the hotels I recommend to visitors
I have always loved a London mini-break. When I was young, my mum would book us a London hotel and West End show for special occasions and now it’s my turn to take my family on the same jaunts.
I’m lucky enough to visit and stay in some of London’s best hotels, for work, so I’m a bit spoilt when it comes to paying for them myself, as my expectations tend to grossly exceed my budget, but of all the hotels I’ve visited, these are the ones I would recommend. I’ve included a mix of price-points, although it’s worth noting London hotel prices have increased steeply in the past year.
Ham Yard Hotel
Actually, this is a bit of a lie, because I couldn’t decide between any of the Firmdale group’s London hotels. This, The Soho Hotel and the Haymarket Hotel are my ALL TIME FAVOURITE London hotels and deserve capital letters because I seriously can’t recommend them any more highly. The beautiful, quirky, styling by Kit Kemp has been much emulated by other hotels, but nobody comes near to the impeccable interiors, comfort and service of this group. They are so brilliantly British, yet world-class. I’ve visited them many times for work (they often host movie junkets in them) as well as privately. In fact, we have made visiting them an annual Christmas treat, so if you can stretch to staying here, you won’t regret or forget it.
St Ermin’s Hotel
This was a surprise hit for me – it’s a historic little hotel tucked away in St James’s, which was the centre of World War II spy operations and is now part of the Autograph Collection. It’s a five-star location on a four-star budget. I loved the quirky touches like its beehive terrace, where you can do a beekeeping workshop and afternoon tea, or its family and fur-family playcation packages. It’s a great little find and good value. I wrote about it for Escape and I’m planning on returning soon.
If you want an alternative to a central-London hotel, then Kensington is a great place to base yourself and The Kensington hotel a lovely choice. We stayed here in the middle of winter and enjoyed a fabulous couple of days, visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum and Natural History Museum, just around the corner. This is a classic British hotel, full of velvet banquettes and pretty wallpaper and if you can run to one of their suites, you’ll love it. They also have nice family rooms, with sweet touches like milk and cookies and welcome gifts for children.
I visited the NoMad Hotel for a feature for The Australian’s Travel + Luxury magazine and was impressed by this beautiful new entry to the luxury London hotel scene (where competition is fierce). It’s in the historic former Bow St Magistrates Court and right opposite the Royal Opera House, so it’s in a terrific location. The rooms are sumptuous and artistic, if not enormous, but the stand-out is the amazing Instagrammable atrium restaurant, which has quickly become the place to be seen.
Another classic British hotel, is the family-owned The Goring, near Buckingham Palace. This is a royal-favourite and extremely high-end, but reserved. Some critics call it old-fashioned, but don’t listen, because it’s luxurious in an eminently civilised way. The Michelin-starred restaurant, bar and afternoon tea are all to be recommended. Teddy the Shetland Pony visits during the summer and we enjoyed a memorable afternoon tea here last summer.
Marriott County Hall
I’ve left out a lot of other hotels on this shortlist, but included this for family-travel. You know where you are with a Marriott hotel, they don’t pretend to be anything they’re not, but you can be assured you’ll get comfortable beds, clean, smart rooms and a good breakfast. But this one gets my repeat-custom because of its location, right on Southbank, next to the London Eye. It’s brilliant for anyone with kids because it has large family rooms and there’s loads to do on Southbank for children (beware, that carousel spins surprisingly fast). But best of all, it has a lovely indoor swimming pool. Hooray and hooray again.
The British Travel List is the sister newsletter to The Royal List. It is a weekly guide to Kerry Parnell’s favourite places to visit and stay around the country. Kerry is an experienced travel and lifestyle journalist who writes for British and Australian newspapers and magazines. She is passionate about British travel and excited to share her work and insider tips, here.
For more of Kerry’s work, visit kerryparnell.com