17 of our favorite hotels in London
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After many weeks of anticipation, England is opening its borders — without a mandatory quarantine — to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. and the EU.
The new policy takes effect as of 4 a.m. local time on Aug. 2 and signals a boost for the tourism industry in the country, which has been battered by prolonged COVID-19-related border closures.
While the delta variant has raised alarm and led to renewed restrictions and lockdowns in some parts of the world, the reopening of the English border to Americans and citizens of the European Union is an exciting development. It also means one of our favorite cities on earth, London, is about to be back in action.
Whether you’re traveling to meet business colleagues in real life or if you’re clamoring for a cheeky pint at a pub, here are some of our favorite hotels to stay at in one of the world’s most dynamic cities.
Of course, this isn’t a complete list since London has thousands of hotels from which to choose, but we made an attempt at narrowing the list down. You’ll find something for everyone on this list — from over-the-top luxury to affordable stays to properties where you can burn your hard-earned points.
This monumental Edwardian hotel has it all: contemporary, luminous guestrooms, the signature Sense Spa, butler service options and a number of distinctive dining/drinking options. The TPG favorite is definitely the Rosewood’s Scarfes Bar. It has a warm and inviting members-only feel and a music-inspired graphic menu featuring innovative cocktails.
Shangri-La at the Shard
The Shard is the tallest building in the U.K., making the Shangri-La at the Shard a step above (literally) most other London hotels. The luxury property starts on floor 34 and occupies 18 levels of the skyscraper, overlooking the River Thames and London’s urban sprawl below. It’s also home to London’s highest infinity swimming pool.
Once home to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense offices, the historical Victorian landmark has since undergone massive renovations to bring it firmly into the 21st Century. The Corinthia‘s guestrooms feature amenities like marble bathrooms with heated floors and king beds, but if you’d prefer things like a private elevator and a spacious outdoor terrace with a fireplace, life-size chess set and views of the London Eye, you’ll have to splurge for the Whitehall Penthouse.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
Although the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park features elegant, traditional English decor, the hotel —which overlooks the park — feels modern thanks to a recent renovation. Guestrooms overlook the park or a charming English courtyard, and suites come complete with butler service — some even have fireplaces.
This timeless Mayfair hotel dates back to 1856 and has hosted famous historical figures including Queen Victoria and celebs such as Audrey Hepburn and Kate Moss. Claridge’s furnishings and decor are traditional yet chic, with some guestrooms and suites designed by Diane von Furstenburg and David Linley. Fans of this world-famous decor can even bring some of it home thanks to Claridge’s online shop.
Four seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
The Four Seasons London at Park Lane is an exquisite London hotel with an equally outstanding location. Located in between the city’s Green and Hyde Parks, the hotel is also located close to some of the city’s most famous shopping thoroughfares. Inside the hotel, relax in your plush bed, relax with a treatment at the rooftop spa or enjoy a meal at the hotel’s outdoor terrace.
One of the most coveted hotels in Europe, the Savoy (a Fairmont property) is best known among AvGeeks as the spot where Etihad’s A380 Residence butlers are rumored to have completed an intensive course before working flights. Between the Thames Foyer’s stunning glass cupola and the famed American Bar (voted the World’s Best Bar in 2017), you’ll never want to leave.
The Ritz London
You may have spotted The Ritz London in the film “Notting Hill” featuring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant or in the popular TV program “Downton Abbey”. The guestrooms and suites boast French classical decor, including soft color palettes, decorative moldings, gilded mirrors and hanging chandeliers.
For a funky stay on a budget, Mama Shelter in east London has hip yet comfortable rooms featuring smart TVs with free movies on demand and safes built into the nightstands. The hotel has fairly standard amenities, including a gym, restaurant and a garden bar — plus slightly quirkier ones like karaoke rooms.
CitizenM Tower of London
CitizenM Tower of London is all about comfort and functionality, but it keeps things trendy and affordable. The hotel touts large, comfortable beds, smart TVs with free movies, fast Wi-Fi and iPad-controlled illumination, blinds, TV and thermostat. Plus, there’s a rooftop bar that overlooks London’s top sights.
The Academy London
The Academy London (a member of Hyatt’s Small Luxury Hotels) is the result of five Georgian townhouses converted into a hotel. Just steps away from Russell Park, the Edwardian brick terraced buildings blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. The hotel’s interior is just as charming with an Art Deco-inspired bar and attached courtyard, a vintage library filled with books and a small but welcoming lobby.
This property is a Category 5 World of Hyatt hotel, meaning free nights will cost you 20,000 points per night.
The London Edition
Located in Fitzrovia on the edge of Soho, the London Edition has the signature marks of the Ian Schrager-conceived brand including wood-paneled walls and the faux-fur throws on each bed, but with a distinct modern British charm. The dark and moody Berner’s Tavern features cuisine by Michelin-starred U.K. chef Jason Atherton.
This is a Category 7 Marriott Bonvoy property, meaning free nights will cost you 50,000 points for an off-peak night, 60,000 for a standard night and 70,000 for a peak night.
100 Queen’s Gate Hotel
This Hilton Curio Collection property was once a former 1870s townhouse but is now a Victorian hotel. Although you can use your points to stay at 100 Queen’s Gate, boutique hotel fans will still enjoy details like moldings, chandeliers and rich, velvety fabrics throughout. The W/A Kensington Restaurant & Bar and the ESQ bar are particularly chic places to hang out and enjoy British-fusion cuisine or cocktails.
Award nights vary but typically start from 60,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
InterContinental London Park Lane
For contemporary British vibes, stay at the InterContinental Park Lane. Ideal for business or leisure travelers craving a sleek and central place to stay, guestrooms look out over the hotel’s courtyard or Hyde Park’s verdant green foliage.
Award rates vary, but rooms can typically be booked from 60,000 IHG Rewards points per night.
Ham Yard Hotel
The Ham Yard Hotel describes itself as an “urban village”. Considering it features 91 colorful guestrooms and suites, 24 apartments, 13 independent stores, a rooftop terrace, spa, gym, theatre, drawing room, library, bowling alley and more, a village (or perhaps even a town) seems like an accurate description.
The Curtain Hotel
Complete with a rooftop pool and lounge, a spa, co-working space, a screening room, a buzzy member’s club and 120 guestrooms and suites, The Curtain is located in the hip neighborhood of Shoreditch. This hotel is for the cool kids — so expect trendy amenities to match — exposed brick, Marshall speakers, artwork by Pete Hawkins and some very inviting freestanding bathtubs.
The Hoxton Holborn
This hipster hub has 220 guestrooms — aptly named for their size from Shoebox to Biggy. You might as well be in Brooklyn with guestrooms decked out in leather furnishings complete with industrial brass and wood details, but you’re not — instead, you’re smack in the centre of London with easy access to everything (walls have Dickens-inspired wallpaper as a reminder, too).
Booking non-points hotels in London
Remember, if you’re booking a hotel that doesn’t belong to a traditional loyalty program, you can always see if it participates in the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program, accessible to cardmembers who hold The Platinum Card® from American Express, among a few others. FHR offers elite-like perks and benefits when booking at participating hotels, such as:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout
- Noon check-in, when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Unique property amenity, such as a spa or food and beverage credit
When it comes to the London hotel scene, you’re spoiled with choice. So much choice, in fact, that it may be tough to pick just the right spot. But this list can help, whether you’ve got points to burn, are on a budget or are looking to go all out. And whether it’s a staycation at home or your first trip to the U.K., London — and this list — has a hotel for you.
Additional reporting by Nick Ellis.
Featured image of the Four Seasons London at Park Lane by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy.
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