Choosing a new bed can be difficult enough.
Ideally, you should sleep on it.
So choosing an entire hotel room can be even more daunting – which is why we’ve put together this discerning list of London’s top 10 boutique hostelries, from Georgian townhouses to minimalist havens, floating hotels (yes, really) to retro hideaways.
So you can literally rest assured that you’re in the best of the bunch…
Henrietta | Covent Garden | £££
Coming to you from the coolest friendship group ever (also behind Chinatown’s Experimental Cocktail Club and La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels), the Henrietta is sheltered in two adjoining townhouses in Covent Garden; boasting 18 sleekly designed bedrooms, the synonymous Henrietta restaurant headed by lauded chef Ollie Dabbous, and of course, ECC bottled cocktails in your minibar.
Amenities: Complimentary wifi, one of London’s best new restaurants on your doorstep, and ECC recipe books in your room for a DIY nightcap.
Location: Walking distance from some of London’s best sights, but surprisingly peaceful for a good night’s rest.
Best spots nearby: Dabbous has kindly put together a list of his favourites – make sure you take a gander at Frenchie nextdoor.
Rough Luxe Hotel | King’s Cross | ££
A bit of a hidden gem amidst London’s hostel hub, the Rough Luxe does exactly what it says on the tin – and it probably is tin, not silver. Combining peeling plaster walls, exposed brickwork and salvaged furniture (some from the Savoy, no less) with exotically printed wallpapers, plush bed linen and quirky art, this Grade II listed building has just 9 characterful rooms, some of which share a bathroom. Perfect if you fancy a bit of rough.
Amenities: It’s a small place so don’t expect much by way of flashy facilities – the TV sets in rooms are from the 80s – but the manager (and his dog) make great company, so don’t be surprised if you’re invited down for a drink or two with his friends. Plus, breakfast comes courtesy of Ottolenghi.
Location: It’s busy, it’s gritty – but it’s also completely accessible, slap bang opposite King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations.
Best spots nearby: You’re spoilt for choice, with Granary Square’s markets and tiny illustration museum, chic bistro Bon Vivant, and brunch spot Caravan all nearby.
Artist Residence | Victoria | ££
A secluded Bohemian bolthole, the Artist Residence is gloriously furnished, with lofty ceilings, free standing baths and four poster beds. They even host the occasional live jazz night or flower arranging workshop; plus, it’s all pitched above the delicious Cambridge Street Kitchen, and their stellar basement cocktail bar, the Clarendon Cocktail Cellar – thankfully within perfect stumbling distance to your bed.
Amenities: The decadent bathrooms are a force to be reckoned with, and their in-house events make for a unique addition.
Location: Tucked away in Victoria, this neighbourhood is fairly residential – but it’s ultimately well-connected and could make a welcome retreat.
Best spots nearby: Take a tour of London’s great museums, before chowing down at Lorne.
Hazlitt’s | Soho | £££
Hazlitt’s sprawls over 4 Soho townhouses where the author William Hazlitt once lived out his days in poverty. Which might also be the case for you if you stay longer than a few nights here. But there are worse places to go broke than in this sumptuous Georgian time warp, decked out with moody hues, rich fabrics and original wooden flooring which even slopes in places. It’s also worth taking a look at their sibling guesthouse, Batty Langley’s in Spitalfields.
Amenities: Take your breakfast in bed, like a true Georgian aristocrat, and hole up in the honesty bar come evening.
Location: Right in the heart of it – you’re within walking distance of London’s best shopping, dining and most raucous nightlife.
Best spots nearby: Amuse yourself in the Barrafina queue by perusing our Soho Guide.
The Portobello Hotel | Notting Hill | £££
Founded in 1971 and home to many famous mugs over the years, it’s easy to see why the Portobello makes such a relentless appearance in best hotel lists. Their rooms range from dinky singles to the ‘Exceptional’ – airy suites with private access to the gardens – but for our money, the more snugly-fitting ‘Good’ rooms are good enough, with their individual exotic murals and eclectic colour schemes.
Amenities: Expect complimentary boards of cheese and charcuterie at breakfast, plus a snug honesty bar overlooking the private gardens.
Location: Perfect for lazy market browsing and Sunday brunches – but be prepared to travel a bit to sample London’s rowdier side.
Best spots nearby: Make your own gin at The Distillery, catch a film at The Electric and treat yourself at The Ledbury.
Blakes Hotel | Kensington | ££££
Frankly, any hotel sporting a giant bird cage conservatory overlooked by a zebra jutting out from a neighbouring wall could totally slack off on everything else, and no-one would care. But Blakes isn’t one to do things by halves – designed by Anouska Hempel, each room is individually and completely extravagantly furnished with a nod to far-flung locations. And the communal spaces aren’t too shabby either, from the mediterranean courtyard to the Studio 54-meets-opium den cocktail bar.
Amenities: It’s all about the service here, so naturally you’ll access exclusive art tours and private members’ spa, the South Kensington Club, while the 24 hour reception and concierge service can help you out with those pesky tasks like booking a table for dinner.
Location: Deep in residential West London – great for people and house-watching, but less well-connected for hopping round the city.
Best spots nearby: You’re a fifteen minute walk from London’s museum hub, as well as dining spots like Ceru.
The Hoxton | Shoreditch | £
The Hoxton is full of surprises: parquet floors and industrial features in every bedroom; a rotating collection of artwork on their walls; a secret, fairy-lit garden which often plays host to workshops and cocktail-laced film screenings; and the fact that – given its insane location – it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to stay there.
Amenities: Room service, a very useful reception shop, and a fireplace-warmed lobby that’s great for working in.
Location: Bang in the middle of Shoreditch, with markets and boutiques to explore, excellent restaurants and plenty of places for a tipple.
Best spots nearby: Where to start? Probably HERE.
Town Hall Hotel | Bethnal Green | ££
This art deco town hall’s been successfully converted to a hall of residence – boasting vast suites with triple height ceilings, and for the rest of us, a heap of more modest – but nonetheless beautiful – bedrooms. Ranging from minimalist modern cocoons to rooms with original features (including fireplaces and gilt ceilings), they’re all unique, and most come with a fully functioning kitchen – not that you’ll need it, since the Typing Room is just downstairs…
Amenities: You can look forward to (ab)using their marble-clad swimming pool, fitness facilities and 24-hour room service. Plus, there’s a morning shuttle service to the City if you fancy hitching a free ride.
Location: Perfect if you like to be in the thick of it all, but want somewhere quiet to come back to.
Best spots nearby: Explore one of London’s weirdest museums beneath the Last Tuesday Society – and take your cocktail with you.
Boundary | Shoreditch | £££
Ironically, this former Victorian printing complex seems to know no bounds. Because their 17 modernist bedrooms are sandwiched between an excellent basement restaurant from celebrated charcutier, Stéphane Reynaud; a breakfast bakery; a bar; a miniature grocers; and a heated rooftop orangery, where you can sip hot cocktails, take in the sweeping Shoreditch vista… and catch your breath.
Amenities: Besides the unbeatable bar and restaurant combo here, there aren’t a lot of in-house facilities – but you’re well placed for anything else you could need.
Location: Sited on Redchurch Street, there’s plenty of independent shops to explore, and it’s a mere stroll to some of London’s best dining options.
Best spots nearby: The Frog and Gunpowder are worth a look, as is the classic speakeasy hidden behind a restaurant fridge.
The Good Hotel | Docklands | ££
This place has nailed it. Not only are they likely to appear pretty highly in search results for ‘good hotels in London’, they actually deserve to – being, as they are, a floating hotel on a pontoon offering Scandi-chic bedchambers, riverside views, and a little social responsibility; supporting local designers and charities, and providing training and job opportunities for the long-term unemployed.
Amenities: You’ll find an all day tapas restaurant, a spacious communal workspace with free wifi, and a rooftop bar overlooking the water.
Location: A little far out, but the unique setting makes up for it.
Best spots nearby: Head to Craft London for Stevie Parle’s acclaimed cuisine.
Main image: Blakes Hotel
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