With a five-day weekend on the horizon and travel on the brain, it’s tempting to consider a quick jaunt to London – except not much about the city screams “affordable”, so booking a hotel often starts with a dread-filled look at nightly rates. While we can’t really argue with the logic involved, we can suggest splurging a little on a boutique hotel that will suit your personality enough to make you want to stay, play, and dine all at one destination. Scroll through to see which of Savoir Flair’s picks for the top five London hotels matches you most, and why.
Ace Hotel London Shoreditch
If You're: Too Cool for School
If the always-evolving Shoreditch is the student of all things nonchalantly cool, then Ace Hotel London is the master. The city’s creative types gravitate towards this hotel to work, network, dine, drink, and dance – and for good reason. It compares a stay to “the experience of staying with friends who are plugged into the local scene”, and this ethos is reflected in everything from the inspirational indie businesses like East London Juice Co. that have set up shop on the property to the emerging artists whose work adorns its walls.
Also contributing to its hipster-haven credentials are a check-in counter that evokes a hip concept store, the bespectacled freelancers sitting behind their MacBooks on the packed communal work table, a lovingly restored vintage photobooth in the lobby, and edgy art in the gallery space alongside acoustic C.F. Martin & Co. guitars and vinyl sourced from legendary Sister Ray record shop in the guestrooms. But above all, a dynamic program of live music, film screenings, comedy shows, and bingo games taking place nearly daily at basement bar and performance space Miranda means there’s always an argument for staying put on the property.
If You're: Guilty of "Golden Age Thinking"
If you’re an out-and-proud Woody Allen fan, then the term “Golden Age Thinking” needs no introduction. For the rest of you, it’s defined as “the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in”. And that’s where Henrietta Hotel comes in. Catering beautifully to the perpetually nostalgic, the new boutique hotel comprises two adjacent Victorian townhouses on the quiet Henrietta Street, where novelist Jane Austen was once a resident.
The hotel’s décor also looks to the past, drawing inspiration from both the 1970s and its British architectural heritage. The genius of interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon is evident in everything from the handmade Art Deco headboards to the retro armchairs with brushed aluminium. The little details interspersed throughout also carry forth that same sense of old-fashioned charm. A gleaming gold knocker in the shape of a pineapple greets you at your room door – and you’ll need an actual key, not a keycard, to get in. The ultimate slice of old-school opulence, however, has to be a shoe shine at the nearby Joseph Cheaney & Sons, which is on the house for Henrietta guests.
Artist Residence London
If You're: Artsy-Fartsy
Artist Residence London may be situated in prim-and-proper Pimlico, but it’s brimming with youthful energy due to the cool and contemporary artwork housed within. The story of this stylish hotel chain dates back to 2006, when owner Justin Salisbury had to leave university in order to help out with his family’s B&B in Brighton after his mother had an accident. Inspired by the local arts scene, he sent out an ad inviting artists to decorate rooms in exchange for accommodation. Hundreds responded, and that’s how the concept was born and named.
With only ten guestrooms onsite at the London property, it’s no surprise that it feels incredibly homely. Each is individually designed and has its own personality, with the common denominators being plush beds, powerful rain showers, and a luxuriously eclectic aesthetic. The passion with which Salisbury has decorated the hotel is evident in the original artwork that adorns both the bedrooms and the public areas, so be sure to walk around all the floors, even if you end up booking a room on the first. And if you find that Artist Residence has set free your inner culture vulture, Saatchi Gallery is less than a 20-minute walk away. Win-win.
The London Edition
If You're: Always On-Trend
The words “achingly hip” aren’t generally associated with big hotel chains, but leave it to Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame to make the impossible possible. The hotelier extraordinaire paired up with Marriott International to launch The London Edition, a hip and happening boutique hotel in Fitzrovia. Each of the 173 guestrooms and suites here is accented impeccably with a cozy faux-fur throw, a gold-framed photograph by Hendrik Kerstens, and a tufted George Smith lounge chair.
You’ll still be tempted to spend all your time downstairs, where a swanky lobby rife with activity awaits. This work-hard-play-hard space is the star of the show, starting with the Ingo Maurer mirrored pendulum that’s akin to a futuristic disco ball hanging from the beautifully restored stucco ceiling. An antique pool table entertains the city’s rich and famous, while a 3D art installation by Chul Hyun Ahn serves as a mystifying conversation starter. To the right lies Berners Tavern by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, a contemporary eatery that’s an institution in its own right. Even teatime at The London Edition is a sexy affair, courtesy of the signature ‘Scandal Water’ experience at Punch Room, an adult take on afternoon tea inspired by the city’s elite during the 19th century.
Brown's Rocco Forte
If You're: Unapologetically Discerning
Luxury, thy name is Brown’s. Located in the heart of Mayfair, this hotel not only boasts one of the most prestigious addresses in London, but also a truly storied past considering it opened in 1837. It’s from here that Alexander Graham Bell made the first-ever telephone call, and where Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book. President Roosevelt reportedly honeymooned here, too.
At the heart of this decadent hotel are those delicious extras that you won’t enjoy anywhere else – think: “Stylists-in-Residence” to help you find an outfit for a special event, bespoke dining experiences designed by food writer and critic Tom Parker Bowles, a “Handy Mobile Device” that gives guests access to unlimited internet and calls while they explore London, exclusive art tours that make their way around Mayfair’s galleries and wrap up with a three-course lunch, and airport transfers in a chauffeur-driven Bentley. Apparently, that’s how the other half lives.