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London's Latest Luxe Lairs
Six hotels you won't want to miss
The Summer Olympics may have been two years ago, but the influx of top-flight hotels that preceded the London Games has continued unabated. Here, six of the city’s best and buzziest new stays.
Back Story: Now a haven for some of the biggest names in fashion and the arts, this hotel once served as a fire station. All red-brick and gabled roofs, the picture-perfect Victorian-style building opened in 1890.
Design Whiz: A just-completed renovation and restoration overseen by hotelier André Balazs — the man behind New York’s Mercer and LA’s Chateau Marmont — has turned the former firemen’s HQ into 26 vintage-chic rooms (all with working fireplaces), a restaurant, and a bar.
Local Flavor: For his work at London restaurant Viajante, Nuno Mendes received a Michelin star, and he is now earning raves here for his British-meets-Mediterranean comfort cuisine.
‘Hood Notes: The not-so-touristy Marylebone district, just southwest of Regent’s Park, is filled with small shops and independent cafés.
Haute Tip: Escape to the glam, warmly lit guest-only bar in the former ladder shed. You’ll be the envy of all the crowds clamoring for a table at the restaurant and its adjacent courtyard garden.
411: From $756. 1 Chiltern St.; 011-44-207-073-7676; chilternfirehouse.com
HAM YARD HOTEL
Back Story: Firmdale Hotels’ eight London properties charm with the wit and whimsy of their individually decorated, light-filled spaces, and this ambitious, just-opened 100-plus-unit stay is no exception.
Design Whiz: Kit Kemp — who founded and owns Firmdale with her husband — has furnished the place with antiques and art from her travels.
Local Flavor: The hotel offers 24 apartments with full kitchens, perfect for those who want to feel like real London locals.
‘Hood Notes: Having built the hotel around a pedestrian walkway, Firmdale has brought in shops and cafés to create its very own village square. Beyond that, the Soho location near Piccadilly Circus feels very much in the center of everything.
Haute Tip: Head downstairs to bowl on lanes imported from a 1950s-era Texas alley or view a screening in the private cinema.
411: From $518. One Ham Yard; 011-44-20-3642-2000; hamyardhotel.com
Back Story: Once a series of 18th-century townhouses, the building served as a hotel since 1909, but it took Edition — combining the talents of hotelier Ian Schrager and Marriott — to turn it into an of-the-moment hangout, which it has been since opening in September.
Design Whiz: The firm Yabu Pushelberg re-spun the soaring marble-walled, stucco-ceilinged lobby and restaurant as old-meets-new social hubs, with more of a minimalist Zen look in the 173 wood-paneled, clean-lined rooms.
Local Flavor: Jason Atherton, whose Pollen Street Social has a Michelin star, helms the salonlike Berners Tavern, serving his elevated, modern-British fare.
‘Hood Notes: Once Bohemian, then ratty, and now up and coming, the Fitzrovia district sits just north of Soho, between Marylebone and Bloomsbury, with the Oxford Street shops steps away.
Haute Tip: Entry-level rooms are quite petite, and even those a level up can feel a bit too cozy. Give yourself some space and go for a terraced junior suite on the top floor.
411: From $495. 10 Berners St.; 011-44-207-781-0000; edition-hotels.marriott.com/london
Back Story: Housed within the iconic, 1970s-era Sea Containers building, the 359-room, soon-to-open spot right on the Thames is the first London project in more than a decade from the Morgans Hotel Group, and the first of its Mondrian brand outside the U.S.
Design Whiz: In-demand Brit Tom Dixon took the idea of a transatlantic crossing as his inspiration for the hotel, combining influences nautical, industrial, art deco, and midcentury modern.
Local Flavor: Treatments at the underwater-themed subterranean spa incorporate products from the U.K., with some made right in London.
‘Hood Notes: Just across Waterloo Bridge from Covent Garden, the hotel offers easy access to the South Bank’s Borough Market, National Theatre, and Tate Modern museum.
Haute Tip: Book an open-plan River View Balcony Suite, featuring the hotel’s best Thames vistas from the room’s large windows.
411: From $326. 20 Upper Ground; 800-606-6090; mondrianlondon.com
Back Story: Built in 1914 in Belle Epoque style, this domed landmark with a courtyard in the heart of the city originally served as the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance company. A hotel for decades, it reopened as a Rosewood in October after a $140 million renovation.
Design Whiz: Hospitality hotshot Tony Chi created most of the public spaces and the 306 rooms, where glen-plaid carpets nod to Britain.
Local Flavor: The casual, bustling Holborn Dining Room — where the Weinsteins hosted their party after the BAFTAs, the U.K.’s Oscars equivalent — turns out classic, seasonal British fare with a twist (smoked haddock topped by a poached egg, say) using ingredients sourced from around the country.
‘Hood Notes: Sitting between the City of London and the West End’s restaurants and theaters, the High Holborn area is close to both work and play.
Haute Tip: Spring for a suite, which comes with personal butler service and a minibar stocked with complimentary snacks, soft drinks, and locally distilled spirits.
411: From $580. 252 High Holborn; 888-767-3966; rosewoodhotels.com/london
SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, AT THE SHARD
Back Story: The 202-room hotel, which opened in May, occupies the 34th to 52nd floors of the 72-story Shard, making it London’s only elevated hotel, and the highest in the U.K.
Design Whiz: Italian architect Renzo Piano designed the Shard’s glass exterior. Inside, Hong Kong-based wunderkind Andre Fu is doing the 52nd floor’s infinity pool and adjacent bar, opening later this summer.
Local Flavor: Ting, the restaurant and lounge just off the 35th-floor lobby, serves both traditional English and Asian-inspired brews and bites every afternoon during high tea.
‘Hood Notes: Practically a neighborhood unto itself, the Shard comprises restaurants and a top-floor viewing platform, with shopping coming soon. Nearby, in the building’s Southwark ’hood, you’ll find Borough Market and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Haute Tip: For splendid views that look over the river and city, request a north-facing room.
411: From $750. 31 St. Thomas St.; 011-44-20-7234-8000; shangri-la.com/london