Small, stylish and in the city: The best boutique hotels in London

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Please note our writers visited these hotels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Independent and stylish boutique hotels offer an added layer of charm that so many larger chain hotels miss out on. If it’s a lavish breakfast inside a 29-room historic townhouse, a quiet cocktail in a leafy garden by the river, or just somewhere you can return to and guarantee that all the staff will know you by name, that you crave, you’ll find a place to suit your needs among the many small hotels in London. Here’s our pick of the best boutique hotels in London, featuring the top places to stay for hip cocktail bars, sumptuous interiors, excellent restaurants, great breakfasts and personal service in locations including Soho, Knightsbridge, Marylebone, Clerkenwell and Pimlico. You’re welcome.

Hazlitt’s

Soho, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

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.


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£
181

per night

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The Goring

Belgravia, London, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

The Goring was opened by Otto Richard Goring in 1910 and remains in the family to this day. To mark its 100th anniversary, it began a programme of stylish redecoration that has just finished with the unveiling of its ravishing new Front Hall, clad with hand-painted wallpaper of exotic animals (some caricatures of staff and owners) in a romantic English landscape. The Bar & Lounge, by Tim Gosling, is richly decorated in reds, yellows and gold, and The Dining Room, by David Linley, is notable for its love-them-or-loathe-them Swarovski ‘blossom’ chandeliers, while the garden adds a unique sense of space and privacy.


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£
412

per night

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The Henrietta Hotel

Covent Garden, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

The Henrietta, situated on one of Covent Garden’s most attractive streets, has an easy going and nicely wacky feel to it. There is a difference in feel between the ground floor, given over to drinking and dining (hot London chef Ollie Dabbous is in charge of the food) plus an intimate mezzanine area, and the 18 bedrooms. All are designed by Dorothée Meilichzon, but the former is calmer and more sober, while the bedrooms are highly unusual and hard to categorise. The hotel is owned by four Frenchmen, three of them childhood friends, who own and run the Paris-based Experimental Group.


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£
202

per night

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Bingham Riverhouse

Richmond, London, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Bingham Riverhouse, downstream westward from central London, is positioned right on the banks of the River Thames between Richmond and Petersham. The property began life as two Georgian townhouses in the mid-18th century and was rented by Lady Ann Bingham before aunt and niece Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper occupied it between 1899-1914, whence it became something of a literary hub. At the hands of designer Nicola Harding, the kitchen-bar, and library-style interiors have been countrified to match its literary history. No two rooms are the same and they are each named after Michael Field’s poems.


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£
177

per night

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The Gore

Kensington, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

On leafy Queensgate, this Kensington townhouse as attention-seeking in character as it is rich in periodic style, with deliciously louche rock’n’roll credentials dating to 1968 when the Rolling Stones had their Beggars Banquet album launch party there. Each of the 50 rooms takes on its own distinctive character and some of the suites are named after famous guests, of which there are many. Décor screams aristocratic splendour with high beds, perhaps under an exquisitely carved four-poster frame, silk wallpapers, brocade cushions, deep velvet upholstery and framed oil paintings.


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£
182

per night

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Artist Residence London

Pimlico, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Expect a playful, colourful vibe throughout Artist Residence London. The hotel is tucked away on a quiet side street in Pimlico and filled with contemporary art that will make you smile. The 10 retro-inspired rooms have been carefully curated to give shabby-chic a seriously sexy makeover, with inviting velvet armchairs, Smeg fridges and limited-edition prints. In addition to the equally as Instagrammable Cambridge Street Kitchen restaurant, there’s a moody underground bar, the Clarendon Cocktail Cellar, that’s well suited to pre- and post-dinner tipples.


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£
182

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The Portobello Hotel

Notting Hill, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

The hotel sits in the middle of a quiet terrace of houses that back on to Stanley Gardens. Opened in 1971, 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.


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£
175

per night

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Chiltern Firehouse

Marylebone, London, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

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 façade 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 interiors, by Paris-based Studio KO, are timeless, homely, stylish, vintage and glamorous. You won’t want to leave.


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£
545

per night

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Mr & Mrs Smith

The Rookery

The City, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Walking through the The Rookery’s deliciously dark and shadowy warren of rooms is like stepping back in time to 500 years ago, its raffish character accentuated with creaky floors, rickety door frames and Georgian period features. Open fires, antiquated furnishings and carved-oak four-poster beds rub up against dark-wood walls, thick red-silk drapes and gold-leaf-gilded oil paintings.
A complimentary tea/coffee drinks tray is brought up to your room or served in the Conservatory, Drawing Room or Library on arrival, and you can order room service, but there’s no restaurant.


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£
158

per night

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Dean Street Townhouse

Soho, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Neither superficially trendy nor boringly traditional, the rooms here 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 toweling ones that practically floor you when you put them on). It’s bang in the middle of Soho’s buzzing Dean Street, sharing a postcode with some of London’s best places to eat.


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£
140

per night

Batty Langley’s

Spitalfields, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

On cobbled Folgate Street, this Georgian dream of a hotel is a welcome contrast to the soaring glass and steel structures of next door Bishopsgate. Buzz to enter the soft pale-carpeted lobby and notice the two huge portraits of the hotel’s namesake Bartholomew ‘Batty’ Langley, an 18th-century architect, landscape gardener and author, and his wife Catherine. Batty was a noted eccentric and the hotel has a sense of fun running right through it, with witty surprises at every turn such as loos hidden behind bookcases. Each of the 29 rooms is named after a different eminent local figure from the 18th century.


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£
158

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Ham Yard Hotel

Soho, London, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Arguably one of the most iconic of Kit Kemp’s boutique hotels in London, along with Charlotte Street Hotel, Covent Garden Hotel and The Soho Hotel, Ham Yard is a light-filled, spacious new build in an ‘urban village’ setting at the bottom of Regent Street, perfectly placed for Mayfair and Soho. It’s all about fun here, from Kit Kemp’s signature cosy-cool interiors to the neon light-lined bowling alley and bar. It’s flooded with light, there is a magical fourth floor roof terrace, with olive trees, lavender and vegetable beds. Don’t miss the mesmerising 135-dial digital clock and a wall of backlit Martha Freud pots in the restaurant.


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£
431

per night

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The Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone

Marylebone, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This quirky, 24-bedroom Georgian townhouse hotel to the north of Oxford Street makes a good-value base for shopping and sightseeing. Together with its sibling in Clerkenwell this townhouse has won adoring fans for its full-on Victorian theme and bar with top-notch cocktails. Think fashionably eccentric interiors and a clubby vibe. Modelled on Sir John Soane’s museum in London, the interiors are intimate, with dark walls and a decadent, clandestine atmosphere. Reception shares space with a blood-red cocktail lounge (also used as a breakfast room), Seymour’s Parlour. Hyde Park is just a stroll away.


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£
189

per night

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The Laslett

Notting Hill, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Notting Hill is oddly short of decent hotels and The Laslett has stepped neatly into the gap, converting five Victorian terrace houses into a luxury boutique hotel, one minute’s walk from Notting Hill Gate. Expect creative ‘westies’ in the bar, and food, artworks and décor supplied largely by local, frequently famous, talent. Prepare to name-check: a cool, restrained grey-and-white palette sets off lighting by Simon Day; art by Londoners — from Barbara Hulanicki of BIBA fame to artist-novelist Harland Miller; antiques by Jerome Dodd on the Golborne Road and super-chic flowers by Scarlet and Violet.


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£
191

per night

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Flemings Mayfair

Mayfair, London, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Opened in 1851, Flemings expanded to encompass 13 townhouses on Half Moon and Clarges Street. For the past 40 years, the Gulhati family have owned it, and the presiding feel remains that of a small, warmly-welcoming hotel, with personal service geared to individual guests. The general manager, who was in charge of Flemings’ major redesign, is Henrik Muelhe, who knows about small, family-run London hotels from his time at The Capital and its sister The Levin in Knightsbridge. The bedrooms and suites are the work of Tony Filmer and are serene, glamourous, intelligent, mildly Art Deco.


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£
205

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Contributions by Emma Beaumont, Sophie Campbell, Jade Conroy, Fiona Duncan, Lizzie Frainier, Charlotte Johnstone, Penny Walker & Venus Wong

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