Plan your dream holiday to London with this insider's guide to the best boutique hotels in England's capital city. We've got a complete list of the top places to stay for period charm, hip cocktail bars, cool design, sumptuous interiors and great breakfasts, in locations including Soho, Knightsbridge, Marylebone, Clerkenwell and Pimlico.
Hazlitt's is the former home of that master of English prose, William Hazlitt, who died in poverty in 1830 in one of three adjoining townhouses that form the hotel. Expect authenticity.
The sloping, creaking floorboards have been retained (it can be an uphill walk to your bed) and the rooms are decorated with antiques, busts and prints. Named after people who frequented the houses in Hazlitt’s day, the rooms are delightfully different from those in most London hotels, all individually furnished, with free-standing bathtubs and Victorian fittings in the bathrooms.
Artist Residence London, Pimlico
The hotel occupies a handsome, five-storey, Regency terrace on Cambridge Street in Pimlico. The third Artist Residence – like its forebears in Brighton and Penzance – is firmly of the 'boutique' variety: small and stylish, barely signposted, with a hip cocktail bar and restaurant downstairs.
The decor offers quirky artwork, plenty of exposed brick and all manner of rakish clutter – from Kilner jars and tea crates to authentic milking stools refashioned into bedside tables.
Zetter Townhouse, Clerkenwell
Zetter Townhouse offers a friendly escape amid the venerable and village-like streets of Clerkenwell, one of London's most pleasant neighbourhoods. The lounge, bar and dining room come dressed in a jumble of Victoriana that includes a stuffed kangaroo, armchairs upholstered with sacking, and walls crammed with oil paintings, curios and old photos.
A star attraction is a homely cocktail bar overseen by master mixologist Tony Conigliaro, who creates memorable tipples bearing names like Somerset Sour, Twinkle and The Flintlock.
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Dorset Square Hotel, Marylebone
The hotel stands within sight of Marylebone Station on a fairly busy side of leafy Dorset Square, which was the site of the first ever cricket ground and home to the Marylebone Cricket Club. Firmdale’s designer, Kit Kemp, can handle vibrant colour and contrasting, unusual fabric in a way that would be a disaster in other hands.
Rooms combine scintillating design (although one or two of the rooms I saw were verging on the odd) with uncomplicated, gadget-light comfort.
The Levin, Knightsbridge
The Levin combines the luxury of a top hotel with the intimacy of a bed and breakfast. The lobby has delicious pistachio green walls, with a feel of the 1930s; the tiny lift is a nostalgic throwback.
It has an immediately welcoming, secure and intimate feel … a haven. With fabrics by William Yeoward and Designer’s Guild, rooms are suave, with particularly good lighting.
You’ll find it hard to leave: each one is equipped with a brilliant selection of pristine paperbacks and a Champagne bar: all the ingredients, and recipes, for the perfect Champagne cocktail.
The Portobello, Notting Hill
The hotel sits in the middle of a quiet terrace of houses that back on to Stanley Gardens. It was opened in 1971, and the new owners have retained the charming furniture, including many Victorian baths, and concentrated on enhancing, rather than materially changing, the look and feel of the hotel.
Rooms range from tiny but beautifully coloured attic rooms to No.16, where Kate Moss and Johnny Depp filled the Victorian bath with Champagne, and No.13, with its enormous four-poster bed that requires a set of steps to reach.
The Rockwell, Earl's Court
The interiors are great, with lovely flowers, lots of pale walls, claret silk curtains and fuchsia carpet in reception and Victorian patterned tiled floors. The sweet little high-walled garden at the back hosts barbecues in the summer.
The 40 rooms (13 singles, worth remembering) are spacious and pretty without being chintzy; a nice break from pared-down chic. The small, potentially charming dining room and bar overlook the garden, reached via a glass bridge, and serve good modern European food.
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
Housed in a fire station dating from 1887, the building has huge charm. The street on which Chiltern Firehouse stands has been recently regenerated and is now lined with interesting shops.
The original facade has been restored and the former ladder shed is now the guest lobby; the engine house holds the restaurant, with bedrooms above; and the newly constructed extension in between holds the horseshoe-shaped bar and a courtyard for outdoor seating.
The Rookery, Smithfield
The Rookery is located between the City and the East End, by Smithfield Market, but distant enough not to hear meat trucks at 5am. Open fires, sumptuous Georgian detailing, wonky floors and bulging bookshelves complete the picture.
There’s an Honesty Bar downstairs – and even a tiny garden terrace for the summer. There are 33 rooms and two singles. All are as quirky as the building, sharing only rich 18th Century colours, antiques, glowing woods and modernised mad plumbing.
Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
If I wanted to show someone a really successful hotel room, I would lead them here. Neither superficially trendy nor boringly traditional, they are cool yet timeless, soothing yet spoiling, decorated to reflect the Georgian townhouse that contains them.
Either handsomely panelled or prettily wallpapered, they have huge elegant beds piled high with pillows, and bathrooms tiled in black and white, with big bottles of Cowshed products, a bowl full of thoughtful extras, and deliciously soft bathrobes (not those heavy towelling ones that practically floor you when you put them on).
This article was from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.