London nights

It’s a bumper year for new London hotels — we check in to compare some of the most exciting new openings


Copyright 2018 Matthew Shaw. See licence supplied with this image for full terms & conditions. Copy available at: Not for use by architects, interior designers or other hotel suppliers without permission from Matthew Shaw

London is open for business, and with quieter streets plus exciting new exhibitions joining the usual attractions, the summer is the perfect time to plan a break.

There are new hotels galore this year too, some of which are already welcoming guests, while others — many long awaited, thanks to the pandemic — will be opening in the capital later this year.

Along with world-class shows to tempt, like Yayoi Kusama’s magical mirror rooms at Tate Modern and David Hockney at the Royal Academy, or Alice in Wonderland revisited at the V&A, you can find impressively discounted rates to stay in London too, plus accommodation to suit every style.

The Dilly

When the old Piccadilly Hotel opened in 1908, it was one of the most luxurious places to stay in London — and after decades as the bland, business-focused Le Meridien, the newly rebranded The Dilly is recapturing that sense of individual indulgence.

A stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, there are the usual five-star facilities including a decent-sized swimming pool in the basement. The rooms do still reflect the period when it was originally constructed: expect some attic bedrooms tucked into the eaves and bathrooms, which although spotlessly clean and modern, don’t all boast the rainfall showerheads you might expect.

However, the refurbishment is snazzy: indigo paint and bespoke wallpaper printed with street maps of Mayfair make for attractive decor, while kettles and award-winning tea adds a stylishly retro touch in place of the now more usual Nespresso machine.

It’s part of a mission statement to showcase local products, and little could be more local than toiletries from Floris across the road in Jermyn Street. In the bar, you’ll find London gin and craft beer from the capital’s micro-breweries, along with Kent sparkling wine.

The once Michelin-starred Oak Room, with its spectacular coving and chandeliers, has been restored to its original fine dining function. Currently serving posh Indian food at Madhu’s, a favourite of the Prince of Wales, its menu is packed with vegetarian dishes, including paneer tikka from the robata grill, as well as massala fish.

The Terrace restaurant above even fields a vegan full English on the breakfast menu, served in a gorgeously verdant conservatory overlooking Piccadilly.

London experiences are a big part of the hotel’s offering, so bikes can be rented to cycle through Green Park, ballroom dance lessons are on offer, London-born Beatrix Potter is honoured in a Peter Rabbit afternoon tea, and a ceremonial gong banged at 6pm indicates it’s time to dress for dinner.

The Guardsman

Hidden away virtually unannounced on a corner in Buckingham Gate, this former two-star hotel has been converted into a far more upmarket establishment promising five-star accommodation and service. Rather than a standard hotel, The Guardsman styles itself as a discreet London base with the look and feel of a private member’s club.

The 53 rooms come in different shapes and sizes, while six suites on upper floors with one to three bedrooms and full kitchens cater for families.

Colour schemes vary — guestrooms with bright textile accents to offset dark wood furniture are the most attractive. Amenities like Nespresso machines are standard, but the Tom Dixon-designed touch-responsive lighting system can be complicated; ask for a full demonstration well before lights out.

The kitchen serves innovative, Mediterranean-style starters and well-prepared hearty main courses from its competent kitchen, along with excellent breakfast choices including Eggs Florentine made from scratch; there’s a choice of where to eat, between the basement restaurant or attractive private ground-floor lounge.

St James’s Park is within walking distance, along with The Guards museum, plus Westminster Abbey and the shops of Victoria Street.

Kingsland Locke

With its multicultural heritage, Dalston, once the preserve of working-class Jews and other immigrant communities, now has its own boutique hotel to add to its raft of ethnic restaurants beloved of hipsters.

The latest offering from aparthotel brand Locke, the former site of a Tesco Express on a busy stretch of Kingsland Road has been converted into the stylish but affordable Kingsland Locke.

Compact is the first word that comes to mind to describe rooms — in my unit, a double bed was wedged beneath the window with just enough room to crawl into it past a built-in corner dining unit, though the bed was comfy, towels in the tiny bathroom huge and fluffy, and large-screen television to entertain.

For those who want to self-cater, or make the most of Dalston’s tempting array of cuisines, the dining area is ideal, but it’s hard to beat the hip in-house dining experience at KRAFT in the airy hotel basement. Along with a micro-brewery, you’ll find a pot still for the restaurant’s own gin, while food offerings are heavy on vegetarian and Middle East-inspired dishes.

Breakfast is included and consists of hot drinks and juice or smoothies to pick up from the ground-floor barista along with a freshly-made pastry; expect to share the space with locals taking advantage of excellent WiFi for a working breakfast.

Best of the rest: London's new hotels

The Londoner

The hotel’s opening, planned for September, will be the capital’s biggest hospitality launch since the start of the pandemic. Along with 350 rooms, the 16-storey hotel overlooking Leicester Square promises two private screening rooms, a “results-driven” gym, The Residence club and six different dining concepts, many deep in the bowels of a six-storey basement, cited as one of the deepest in the world.

NoMad London 

This conversion of Bow Street Magistrates Court pays tribute to the jazz age and the golden era of steam travel in its décor, as well as showcasing the original historic features of the building just minutes from Covent Garden. Alongside the retro furnishings, marble mosaic tiled bathrooms are a wow factor of the rooms.

Pan Pacific

It’s all about wellness at the new Pan Pacific hotel, also due to open in September. Set near Liverpool Street station, the hotel will have an infinity pool and high-performance training options, a focus on fitness, nutrition, treatments and mindfulness, plus the largest ballroom in the Square Mile. An all-day restaurant will serve Singaporean cuisine, along with a patisserie, tea lounge and cocktail bar.

Chateau Denmark

Named for the eponymous Soho street, aka Tin Pan Alley, this hotel is all about honouring the area’s musical heritage in rock-star-style décor. Expect “punk-goth” rooms fielding four-posters, chainmail curtains and black rubber floors, others dedicated to the acid-rock era, with a more restful option in those embracing their 17th century architectural bones. All with state-of-the-art sound technology, naturally.

Hyatt Place London City East

This new hotel is putting Whitechapel on the map as the latest hip place to stay. Three floors have been added to an office building to create a nine-storey, 280-room hotel with spectacular views, a cool rooftop bar and even cooler street art, reflecting the cultural contribution for which the neighbourhood is now most famous. The Whitechapel Gallery and Brick Lane are just steps away.


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