London’s best hotels are experiences unto themselves: Historic buildings with formal, white-glove service (dare we say—worthy of royalty). Sleek, modern places that shine a spotlight on cutting-edge British hospitality. Former firehouses, banks, ministry buildings, and restored Edwardian mansions, some with their own movie theaters and basement bowling alleys.
In a city with so many options, finding the hotel that’s right for your needs and preferences can be daunting. That’s why AFAR has reviewed the top places to stay in London and compiled this definitive list of the 15 best for your next trip. Whatever type of stay you fancy, all these hotels offer world-class service, standout design, and myriad ways to access the city that will make you feel like an insider upon check-in.
And so, in no particular order, here are our picks for the 15 best hotels in London.
- Location: Mayfair
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One of London’s most celebrated hotels, Claridge’s dates to 1812, yet the Mayfair grande dame, owned and managed by the Maybourne Hotel Group, remains timeless. The downstairs art deco lobby, with its black and white geometric marble floors and fluted columns, looks as elegant as when it was built in 1931, thanks to a renovation at the turn of this century. The hotel’s biggest news is the recent addition of a three-floor, 7,000-square-foot subterranean spa with nods to Japanese design by noted interiors maven Andre Fu; there are seven treatment rooms lined with oak panels and a heated swimming pool.
Upstairs, guest rooms are in either an art deco or classic English style. The suites have been updated by a who’s who of contemporary designers—Diane von Furstenberg, India Mahdavi, and David Linley among them—who have ensured the rooms, and the hotel, haven’t been left to languish entirely in the past.
The hotel is an institution, so don’t be surprised if it’s hard to score a seat at one of its dining and drinking outlets. (But the space that recently housed New York-based chef Daniel Humm’s Davies and Brook, and British chef Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred Fera at Claridge’s before it, is still awaiting a new tenant.) They include the moodily lit Fumoir, which dates to 1929 and is lined with tufted velvet seating and portraits by U.S. photographer William Klein, and the deco-inspired Claridge’s Bar, designed by David Collins Studio, which serves hard-to-find champagnes and spirits.
2. The Dorchester
- Location: Mayfair
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Opened in 1931, the Dorchester exudes luxury of a bygone era. But even with the formality of crystal chandeliers, top hat–clad bellmen, and polished marble floors, the energetic staff are encouraged to bring their personalities to work, making this Mayfair icon feel thoroughly connected to contemporary London. Recently, the Dorchester has begun to unveil its most significant renovation since the 1980s with the help of Pierre-Yves Rochon and Martin Brudnizki Design Studio.
In the colonnaded ground floor promenade, heavier furnishings were replaced with elegant wingback chairs, and columns were refinished in striking black and gold. The space is now lined with nature-themed paintings commissioned for the hotel (16 of the 18 artists are women). Within the promenade, the Artists’ Bar is clad in gold and Lalique crystal and sits beneath a chandelier; nearby is the mirrored piano of none other than Liberace. The new Vesper Bar, a nod to the hotel’s James Bond connections (creator Ian Fleming dined here often), has 1930s vibes—there are mirrored walls and velvet banquette sofas perfect for spy tête-à têtes.
The 238 guest rooms and suites have a British country manor house feel, with marble entryways, canopy beds, and Italian marble bathrooms. In May 2023, they’ll emerge from a complete overhaul—what won’t change are the spectacular views over Hyde Park. What also remains unchanged is the hotel’s three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse restaurant, which pays homage to seasonal British and French ingredients: think John Dory, spiny artichokes with cuttlefish, and artisanal French cheeses.
3. Hotel Café Royal
- Location: Piccadilly Circus
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Opened in 1865 as a restaurant, event space, and wine store, Hotel Café Royal quickly became a gathering spot for London’s intelligentsia and glitterati. During the past 150 years, everyone from Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde to Muhammad Ali and David Bowie was spotted here. Relaunched in 2012 as a hotel, Café Royal has ushered in a new era of hospitality, drawing visitors with its central location between Mayfair and Soho, a short walk from theaters, shops, and tourist attractions.
Past a showstopping lobby, which underwent a $6.6 million redesign in 2018, the 160 rooms and suites are warm and streamlined, crafted with Carrara marble, English oak, and Portland stone and outfitted with Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems, sound proofing, and rain showers. All guest rooms come with perks like complimentary John Lobb shoeshines, while the six Signature Suites feature Tudor fireplaces, deep-soaking tubs, private screening rooms, dining areas, and butler service.
The dining and drinking options alone are worth a visit. They include the two Michelin-starred Alex Dilling, which serves modern French gastronomy; the gilded Grill Room, the former haunt of Oscar Wilde with its traditional afternoon tea service; and the Green Bar for botanical-based cocktails and fine liquors. Launched in 2018, Cakes & Bubbles offers an edgy new take on pastries and desserts from Spanish pastry genius Albert Adrià, like his signature cheesecake with Baron Bigod Brie, hazelnuts, and white chocolate that’s made to look like washed rind cheese (pair it with Veuve Cliquot). A spacious gym (with LifeFitness equipment, class studios, and a 60-foot lap pool) and the Akasha Spa (with sauna, hammam, and nine rooms for East-meets-West treatments) round out the facilities.
4. The Ham Yard
- Location: Soho
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Most London hotels can’t claim to have a bowling alley in the basement. But Ham Yard isn’t most hotels. Opened in 2014, the hotel also has a 190-seat cinema with Dolby surround sound, a spa with its own Hypoxic Studio for high-altitude training, a roof terrace with a full vegetable garden, and a karaoke bar curated by Lucky Voice.
Ham Yard is the London flagship of Firmdale Hotels, the 10-property collection in London and New York City run by husband-and-wife team Tim and Kit Kemp. It’s Kit’s interior design for which the brand is best known, and Ham Yard is the most exuberant expression of her maximalist aesthetic. Here she has filled the space with her trademark mismatched fabrics and overstuffed armchairs. Curious touches, such as light installations from cult-creator Gods Own Junkyard, give the hotel an idiosyncratic edge. The unusual name derives from the Soho square in which the hotel stands. Ham Yard’s courtyard space draws locals who come to sit and linger at the hotel’s partner shops, including Brazilian beachwear brand Frescobol Carioca.
5. Corinthia London
- Location: Westminster
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From the luxury Malta-based Corinthia brand, the Corinthia London occupies a Victorian building (once home to the Ministry of Defense) near Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, the London Eye, and the theater district. The vibe is a 21st-century grand hotel, with public spaces on the ground floor—some vast and high-ceilinged, others warm and cozy. Find modern British fare and a decadent breakfast spread at the Northall restaurant; all-day dining and an afternoon tea service complete with champagne trolley at the Crystal Moon Lounge; and, in good weather, alfresco drinks, bites, and cigars at the leafy Garden lounge. In late 2022, the Velvet lounge debuted with red velvet and royal blue interiors by David Collins Studio and a cocktail menu by award-winning bartender Salvatore Calabrese. Kerridge’s Bar and Grill is the first London restaurant from English chef Tom Kerridge, with British-inspired dishes including a red prawn scotch egg and fish and chips with pease pudding made with yellow split peas.
The Corinthia is home to 283 residential-feeling rooms and suites, which include chic London and Garden suites and seven themed presidential suites, also designed by David Collins Studio. Amenities include Nespresso machines and marble bathrooms with rain showers, bathtubs with built-in TVs, heated floors, and ESPA products. Some of the higher-level suites have private outdoor spaces, butler service, and expansive views. The flagship ESPA Life by Corinthia Spa is one of the largest in the city, with 17 treatment rooms, a 24/7 gym, a nail studio, and a vast thermal floor with multiple pools, sauna and stream rooms, ice fountains, and sleep pods for extra serenity.
6. The Ned
- Location: Financial District
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The founders of Soho House teamed up to turn the historic Midland Bank building into—what else?—a one-stop lifestyle hub that’s drawing regulars of both the suit-and-tie and hipster variety. Part-hotel, part-member’s club, the Ned (named for legendary 19th-century architect Edwin Lutyens, who first envisioned the building) draws both locals and out-of-towners with several dining options set around the former banking hall. They range from Italian, French, and Californian spots to a Pan-Asian grill and poke restaurant, and a lounge for an overflowing, British-style Sunday feast, complete with a Bloody Mary bar and mimosa trolley.
Hotel guests also have access to a downstairs bar, and a wellness level supplies a nail bar, gym, separate hair salon and barbershop, and a spa with an indoor pool, eight treatment rooms, and a traditional Moroccan hammam. The Ned’s Club Upstairs offers a rooftop pool and restaurant (with views out to St. Paul’s Cathedral) to Club members or those staying in higher-category rooms.
The property is done up in cool, vintage-inspired design. The 250 guest rooms range in category from Crash Pad and Cosy to Heritage and six types of suites. All have 1920s flair: mirrored cocktail cabinets, wingback chairs, and Jazz Age motifs, plus marble-mosaic bathrooms stocked with rain showers and Cowshed products. Take all the pictures you want in your room, but social media addicts may want to leave their phones behind when in select public areas: There’s a photo ban in any place that’s part of the Club membership, including that stunning rooftop.
7. The Savoy
- Location: The Strand
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Having built the Savoy Theatre, English agent Richard D’Oyly Carte opened a nearby hotel in 1889 to accommodate the wealthy American patrons who came to see the celebrated Gilbert & Sullivan operas. In the years following, the hotel welcomed such regulars as Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and Katharine Hepburn; some of these famous guests are now celebrated in the menu of theatrical Character Cocktails served at the hotel’s decadent Beaufort Bar, while others have inspired the nine elegant Personality Suites. Anecdotes abound at the Savoy, including the time Marilyn Monroe stopped by for a press conference in 1956 to promote The Prince and the Showgirl with costar Laurence Olivier and caused a media frenzy when she appeared in a black dress that, tantalizingly, revealed her midriff.
But the Savoy, now managed by Fairmont, is not one to remain in the past. The hotel completed an ambitious $350 million renovation in 2010—in time to celebrate its 125-year anniversary—and now features timeless spaces with every modern convenience. The 267 rooms and suites include art deco or Edwardian decor, custom furniture, bespoke rainfall showerheads, and Penhaligon’s amenities; many of the higher category options look out over the Thames or city landmark, and have extras like claw-foot tubs or, in Deluxe Junior Partial Riverview Suites and above, the legendary Savoy butler service. Rotating programming—from arts and culture events to a writer-in-residence series and expert-led master classes—keep guests engaged, while dining and drinking outlets include Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill and the Thames Foyer for the iconic afternoon tea.
8. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
- Location: Hyde Park
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Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has quite the setting and history. It’s directly across from Hyde Park—a Royal Park that was once the hunting grounds of Henry VIII—and west of Buckingham Palace. (If you hear horses in the morning, that’s the royal cavalry passing by.) Originally opened in 1908 as the Hyde Park Hotel and then in 2000 as a Mandarin Oriental, the hotel closed in 2016 for a makeover—and a fire broke out in June 2018, delaying what Mandarin Oriental called the most extensive restoration in the hotel’s history. In April 2019, the property reopened with 141 renovated rooms and 40 revamped suites, an enlarged spa, a transformed lobby, and redone restaurants—including the Roseberry tearoom and its restaurant with two Michelin stars, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
Throughout earth-toned rooms and suites, designer Joyce Wang incorporated nods to the park with an art deco twist: Gilded acorn chandeliers, wooden floors, and ceilings with curved lines mimic the park’s walkways; bathrooms are done almost entirely in white marble. That said, the hotel has been smart to keep—and highlight—elements of its past, including a dedicated royal entrance originally used by Queen Victoria (today most often used for weddings) and a ballroom where Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret took dance lessons as children (delightfully, the wood floor—though covered—still squeaks).
One of the newest additions to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the Aubrey, which opened in March 2022 on the hotel’s ground floor. Billed as an “eccentric izakaya (pub),” the Aubrey consists of five separate dining areas, all cozy and low-lit, serving shared plates like wagyu beef sando, gomae (cold baby spinach and sesame), and oxtail and bone marrow fried rice. Traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints line the walls, but this is no formal space: When there isn’t Japanese trap music playing, a DJ spins live here from Thursday to Sunday.
9. Brown’s Hotel
- Location: Mayfair
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London’s oldest hotel manages to retain the Old World feel that likely charmed its illustrious past guests—among them Agatha Christie and Alexander Graham Bell, who in 1876 made London’s historic first telephone call from the hotel. Yet Brown’s Hotel, run by the Rocco Forte hotel group, has managed to reinvent this storied place for the modern luxury traveler. Brown’s sits in a collection of individual townhouses that were combined into one property. Located on the boutique and bar-lined Albemarle Street a stone’s throw from Mayfair’s busy major thoroughfares, the hotel in contrast retains an intimate scale and feel. The public spaces, with their floral and nature motifs, elaborate chandeliers, and intricate mosaic flooring, are the hand of Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte’s design director, and offer a feeling that you’re somewhere special without ever feeling overly stuffy.
Good luck scoring a bar stool or a cushy velvet seat at the popular Donovan Bar, named after photographer Terence Donovan. Here, the photographer’s portraits of notable fashion and celebrity icons from the 1960s hang on the walls, while noted bartender Salvatore Calabrese oversees the drinks menu. Across the hall, Charlie’s Restaurant is where chef Adam Byatt serves contemporary British dishes like Dover sole and battered haddock with chips (though the Caesar salad is spectacular too). Upstairs, the 115 guest rooms and suites, individually designed by Polizzi, feature wingback chairs, floor-to-ceiling curtains, and marble-clad bathrooms. A muted palette dominates, with splashes of color and texture depending on the room’s theme.
10. One Aldwych
- Location: Covent Garden
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As with so many of the hotels on this best-of list, independently run One Aldwych has a storied past: literally. The Edwardian building used to be the home of the Morning Post newspaper in the early 1900s; per the hotel’s Post At One broadsheet sitting on desks en suite, “the Lobby Bar was the publication’s beating heart, while the presses rolled in what is now the swimming pool.” The building itself is inspiring, with a cupola dome, curved corners, and balustrade balconies, and went on to prove so for the staff of The Tatler and Illustrated London News.
Following a major renovation in late 2020, the boutique hotel now has 105 new modern-feeling guest rooms and suites in a coveted location—you can see West End theater marquees from your corner suite. On our last visit, the Lobby Bar had a wild, feathered, Technicolor art installation fit for Willy Wonka; as it was, the hotel also hosts a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea, very popular with families. With more than 400 artworks and a handful of dedicated curators creating insider concierge experiences for guests, One Aldwych feels like one of the freshest, culture-filled hotels in the area—and it’s family friendly to boot. Welcome cards are addressed directly to the children, and depending on the mini guests’ ages, they may find blocks, books, and proper little British teddy bears on arrival.
11. The Langham London
- Location: Marylebone
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This Victorian beauty in London’s West End opened in 1865 continues to reinvent itself for the modern-day traveler. At the Langham London, public spaces are full of chandeliers, marble columns and stairways; the supremely helpful staff will adapt to your every need. Run by the Hong Kong–based Langham Hospitality Group, the hotel excels at bringing London to the guest, whether it’s a Paddington-themed afternoon tea for families, complete with a custom-made stuffy of the famous trenchcoat-clad bear, or a transporting a capella chorus in the lobby during the December holidays.
The 380 residential-feeling guest rooms have large wingback chairs, enormous beds with leather headboards, floor-to-ceiling curtains, and large marble soaking tubs; several apartment-style accommodations have kitchenettes. Here and there are splashes of Langham’s signature pink, be it on a wall or in the form of roses. Try to book an Executive room category to get access to the hotel’s sprawling Club Lounge, which has a dedicated staff that can check you in and help you navigate your explorations of London, serves delicious bites all day, and pours decent champagne and cocktails. Save an evening for pub food at the lively Wigmore; a cocktail at Artesian, whose award-winning bartender Giulia Cuccurullo oversees the drinks program, is also a must.
- Location: Mayfair
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It’s easy to see why the Connaught remains a beloved favorite among both visitors and Londoners. Behind the red brick facade of the 1917 hotel—owned and run by the Maybourne Hotel Group—it maintains a classic English sensibility without feeling stuck in the past. A polished wood staircase, lined with mahogany walls with portraits and landscape paintings, is the centerpiece of the public spaces. (Ralph Lauren commissioned a replica to be made for his New York City flagship store.) Such traditional design motifs are juxtaposed by contemporary touches, like a Tadao Ando–designed water feature called Silence, in the inner courtyard.
The art deco–style Connaught Bar, with its classic martini trolley service, is where Agostino Perrone, Giorgio Bargiani, and Mauria Milia lead a cocktail menu so stellar that has maintained its place on the respected World’s 50 Best Bars list for the past 15 years. The 121 guest rooms, the hand of interior designer Guy Oliver and the late David Collins, feature two styles: contemporary or classic. Some come with chase longues and four-poster beds, while others are lined with sleek wooden bookshelves and abstract paintings. A few rooms, like the 775-square-foot Connaught Suite, with its marble fireplace and elaborate wainscoting, will make you feel as though you’ve been handed the keys to someone’s luxe London apartment. Another property highlight: an Aman Spa, the first urban spa from hotel group Aman Resorts. In the five treatment rooms, experiences range from Thai-style massages to India-inspired chakra balancing treatments.
13. Shangri-La the Shard
- Location: Southwark
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London’s tallest building, a glass-encased skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano, is home to Shangri-La the Shard, with unrivaled 360-degree views of the city from floors 34 to 52. (The city’s highest hotel infinity pool is on the top floor.) Those views are on display from the floor-to-ceiling windows of all 202 guest rooms, which are stocked with Frette linens and bathrooms with heated floors and toilet seats. (Ask for a room with a freestanding bathtub, and gaze at the horizon while you soak.) The sleek interiors are a palette of soothing neutral blues and beiges and subtle motifs inspired by Chinese brush painting that references the Shangri-La hotel brand’s Asian roots.
The dining and drinking outlets have become popular with Londoners, especially during sunset, so be sure to book a table in advance. They include Gong, which faces London Bridge and was designed by Hong Kong–based Andre Fu with antique bronze pieces and red lacquer panels made with cinnabar. The seasonally based restaurant Ting serves à la carte or set course menus focusing on Britain-meets-Asian dishes like soy-braised short ribs. While the sky-high views are the selling point of the hotel, the location is desirable, too. Located in the Southwark neighborhood, Shangri-La at the Shard puts guests within a five-minute walk of both London Bridge and Borough Market, famous for its artisan foods and produce.
14. Rosewood London
- Location: High Holborn
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The arrival experience at Rosewood London makes for a grand impression: a former carriage entrance with wrought iron gates leads to a serene courtyard and a restored Edwardian mansion with a neoclassical facade of carved Corinthian columns and arches. American designer Tony Chi transformed the interiors with such embellishments as black-and-white mosaic floors and a seven-floor Italian Pavonazzo marble staircase, which sits beneath the building’s 166-foot-high cupola.
The 263 rooms and 45 suites, also designed by Chi with elegant lacquer furnishings and geometric black and white rugs, feel spacious and residential, with marble-clad bathrooms and plenty of comfortable seating areas. The 2,000-square-foot Manor House Suite has its own private entrance and elevator. (Rosewood says it’s the only suite in the world with its own postal code.)
The hotel’s popular Scarfes Bar, inspired by British caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, recently launched new cocktail menu called “10” to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the bar and the hotel in 2023; new concoctions include Crescent City, which pays homage to New Orleans jazz with Macallan 12-year whiskey, rum, and pandan. The lively, brasserie-style Holborn Dining Room is all about seasonal and locally sourced British fare (think dressed Devonshire crab and slow roasted lamb shoulder pie). Don’t miss the British cheese selection, treats such as Isle of Wight Blue and Montgomery, an unpasteurized cheddar from Somerset.
15. The Goring
- Location: Belgravia
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The royal family has made this intimate hotel their home-away-from-home since Otto Goring first opened its doors in 1910—which is why it’s the only hotel to hold an official Royal Warrant for hospitality services, bestowed in 2013 by the late Queen Elizabeth II, who enjoyed lunches and teas here from childhood. Set on a quiet Belgravia side street, a few blocks from Buckingham Palace, the Goring also hosted nobility, both foreign and domestic, and—as the first U.K. hotel with en suite bathrooms—often served as a convenient place for dignitaries to freshen up before an audience at the Palace.
Today, the 69-room retreat—still owned by the same family—caters to a devoted (and primarily American) clientele, who love the intimate feel, central location, and excellent service, not to mention the rare perks like a back garden. Rooms are cushy and comfortable, with traditionally English decor (silk wallpaper, vintage-inspired headboards, Italian linens, and oversize armchairs) and playful details (pops of color, giant stuffed sheep mascots peeking around corners, and an in-room lighting switch with choices like “Bright,” “Cozy,” and “Oooh”). Upgrade to a suite for dedicated service from one of the legendary footmen, identifiable by their gold-embroidered scarlet coats.
For even more perks, check in to the two-bedroom Royal Suite, which has four-poster beds, a grand piano, a six-seat dining room, antique glassware, and a life-size portrait of Queen Victoria. A steady stream of locals of all ages join hotel guests for lunch on the garden terrace, drinks around the gleaming wood bar or in the fireplace lounge, and the famous afternoon tea—just book early for the latter, as there can be a months-long wait list.