Belmond Cadogan Hotel
75 Sloane St., Chelsea
Knightsbridge is not short on formal hotels that could be mistaken for mausoleums. Walking down toward Chelsea several weeks back, we noticed a flurry of activity on the moneyed Queen Anne–style intersection of Pont and Sloane Street and stopped to take a peek. The Belmond Cadogan was closed for a four-year renovation, and each one of those 1,460 days was entirely worth it. Basement to rooftop, every polished corner is considered. From a literary perspective, the property is iconic—Oscar Wilde was arrested here—and each guest room contains its own mini library curated by John Sandoe books just down the street. If you’re going to splurge on a suite, do it here. The Penthouse Suite sits at the tip-top of the property, which means that aside from being the most gorgeously outfitted room we’ve seen recently—fireplaces, custom artworks, a bathroom the size of most bungalows—its outdoor terrace has a view of London most people never get to see. Locals have already adopted the bar as their own, which lends a convivial buzz to the place. But the best entertainment is the hotel itself—just walk around and take in the myriad…
The Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel
1-8 Russel Sq., Bloomsbury
The Kimpton Fitzroy took us completely by surprise. Rushing up the steps off busy, buzzy Russell Square, we stepped into the cavernous, mosaic-floored, marble lobby and gasped: The hotel is breathtaking. Taking up an entire city block, the heritage building with its turrets and flourishes contains more than three hundred guest rooms—but you would never know. The sloping corridors, palatial public spaces filled with antique furniture, specially commissioned artworks, and warm tones feel intimate and welcoming rather than austere. A basement gym, several dining spaces—peach-hued Neptune might be the prettiest dining room in London—and the softest beds we’ve slept in for a while have turned the Kimpton Fitzroy into a dreamy pied-à-terre when we’re in town.
2 Blackfriars Rd., Southbank
After three deliriously comfortable nights as Southbank’s new Bankside Hotel, we had to ask ourselves: Why can’t every city hotel be like this? It’s smallish, with under two hundred rooms, and utterly contemporary—concrete walls covered in urban photography you wish you could slip into your suitcase, light fixtures that moonlight as sculptures, locally made ceramics for your morning Nespresso, and the chicest writing sets for those postcards you might actually send. When you do leave your hotel, you’ll see the River Thames in the foreground, the Tate Modern for an art fix to the left, and Borough Market (to load up on paella, oysters, and cute to-go flutes of champagne) on the right. If you’re in town on business, take note that the Bankside has decked out a loft space with tables and sofas to type from, art tomes to procrastinate over, and a subterranean gym and spa to keep energy levels soaring.
Como The Halkin
5-6 Halkin St., Belgravia
COMO is the most quietly luxurious hotel group you’ve probably never heard of. It’s been around since 1991 with Zen-dedicated locations in Bali, Thailand, Bhutan, and more, and its forty-one-bedroom central London property is so discreet that until recently, we didn’t even know it was there. And that’s the idea. The exterior could be another sophisticated building common to the neighborhood, but stepping inside is like stepping into another world. Guest room doors and corridor walls are indistinguishable from one another, flowing in an undulating line of textured wood to mimic walking through a forest. The rooms are almost like sensory deprivation tanks—in the best way possible. Creamy walls, creamier carpets, white sheets, touches of earthy mahogany, and blackout curtains mean your bedroom is a place to rest, recharge, and maybe eat in. Room service at the Halkin is top-notch (and faster than any room service we’ve ever had). Sitting down to dinner wrapped up in soft hotel robes before tumbling into bed after a long day traipsing the city is how we like to vacation.
11 Cadogan Gardens
11 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea
Near the posh shopping area of Sloane Square and occupying a series of Victorian townhouses, this small hotel in Chelsea offers some truly attractive communal areas. And you don’t have to be a guest to use them. There’s a small, clubby bar full of leather chairs and dark, moody lighting for an early-evening drink (or to escape the London drizzle). Our favorite spot, though, is the library. Dreamily quiet, its walls lined with old books and its tables stacked with newspapers, it’s a proper oasis for the freelancer or aspiring novelist—especially with a pot (and then another) of English breakfast tea. For those looking to sleepover, guestrooms are a lesson in English elegance, many with roomy, four-poster beds and picturesque views of the leafy park on the adjacent quiet square.
Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square
10 Trinity Sq., City of London
Bank is undergoing a renaissance. Normally, it’s a neighborhood locals avoid because it’s packed with, well, banks and the casual grab-and-go cafes that feed its bankers, that’s all changing. The Ned moved in first, followed by Brigadiers for dinner, and now the Four Seasons have staked their plot at Ten Trinity Square. We love the subtly elegant guest rooms in shades of grey, and the beds are next-level comfy. They’ll let you choose a firm or soft mattress topper; orthopedic or hypo-allergenic pillows; and the most cocooning down duvets. Given the history of the neighborhood, it’s no surprise that the building is positively stately, and with four food and beverage options (including an especially atmospheric rotunda bar that hosts live music acts), there’s no need to leave.
14-15 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of London’s most charming, central neighborhoods, but until recently, there was no place really remarkable to stay. The Henrietta Hotel changed all of that.
2-6 Southampton Row, The Strand
Hotel Costes is (if you ask us) the most seductive, decadent place to sleep in Paris, and its newly-opened sibling in London, L’oscar, is no different.
16-18 St. James Pl., St. James
The Stafford is a well-kept secret. So well-kept, that despite a decade of near constant travel to London, many staffers had never heard of it. Hidden down a quiet residential street in Mayfair, the hotel has 107 rooms and occupies a collection of 17th-century townhouses. The rooms are spacious, with beautiful vintage wallpaper, separate dressing rooms, and all-marble bathrooms. And despite being in the middle of the city center, The Stafford is blissfully quiet. History buffs, or anyone else for that matter, shouldn’t miss Winston Churchill’s former home, a few doors down.
27 Poultry, City of London
Soho House’s Nick Jones has, with his signature pizzazz, created one of the more exciting hotels to hit the capital in recent years. The cavernous lobby of the Ned is totally untraditional—and we dig it. Organized almost like a maze, with Cecconi’s on your right, a huge bar on your left, and a raised platform (often with a full jazz band) in front of you. No walls separate any of these elements, so the entire space booms. The rooms are exquisite, many with wood-paneled walls, enormous beds, and beautifully upholstered furniture. It all feels very Tudor. The minibar is one of the better ones we’ve come across: an antique chest filled with crystal glasses, premium booze, and god this makes us happy, decent tonic. Cowshed products, powerful hair dryers and straighteners, and a deep tub comprise a dream bathroom. Bank Street is, predictably, banker land during the week and a dead zone on the weekend, but given how central it is, it’s a breeze to get around—if you can be bothered to leave the hotel at all. Rooms and lobby aside, the listed, Lutyens-designed building has a hammam-style…
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