London is an expensive place to stay but it’s not impossible to find what one brand describes as “lean luxury” hotels in decent locations, in interesting buildings or characterful Victorian or Georgian townhouses, with double rooms under £300 or even £200 a night. Here are ten of the best.
1.Lime Tree Hotel, Belgravia. Rooms start from £205/night.
Located in the heart of elegant Belgravia, Lime Tree is a newly refurbished historic townhouse hotel. The Georgian house has 26 cosy guest rooms with a good mix of traditional townhouse features and contemporary comforts. While each room has a different size, shape and layout, they all have high thread count cotton linens, bespoke beds and modern ensuite shower rooms featuring 100% natural British toiletries from Bramley. Downstairs there’s a lovely internal garden, a homely lounge and a trendy restaurant, The Buttery, serving delicious breakfasts. For dinner, Wild By Tart very nearby at Eccelston Yards, is an excellent choice. Housed in a former power station and coal store, the spacious bistro has a sustainable and seasonal approach to food, with a focus on charcoal grills and wood oven treats. Menu highlights include porcini and taleggio arancini served with roasted garlic and tarragon mayonnaise; cured Chalk Stream trout; pork belly; and flatbreads with delicious toppings like field mushrooms, mozzarella and confit garlic or spiced lamb shoulder, chilli and tahini yoghurt. Ideal for a nightcap, right beside the hotel, is Ganymede, a chic wine bar.
2.Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross. Nightly rates start from £250.
This is the original railway hotel, designed in 1854 by famous Victorian architect Lewis Cubitt, who also built King’s Cross station. Today, it’s a luxurious boutique hotel, surprisingly reasonably priced. The hotel is right in the heart of the revitalised King’s Cross area, among shops, restaurants and the Eurostar in the adjacent St Pancras station. You can choose from four room types: Couchette, Edwardian, Heritage and Victorian. The 88 rooms are compact but elegantly designed and include Nespresso machines and Chromecast televisions. Each floor has a pantry with free drinks and snacks and every room has a complimentary mini bar with non-alcoholic drinks. The lovely Victorian category rooms are bright and some have roll-top bathtubs and generous corner views of the Gothic revival St Pancras station. Hypnos beds, toiletries from Malin & Goetz and excellent soundproofing (essential, considering the busy location) ensure a comfortable, peaceful stay. Drinking and dining options are plentiful in the immediate area. The hotel food and beverage offering is also superb. Rails Restaurant and Little Bar within Great Northern Hotel are both relaxed yet chic. Formerly the excellent Plum + Spilt Milk, the restaurant has been rebranded and the menu reimagined to offer modern British classics with French accents, in homage to its proximity to the Eurostar.
3.Apex Temple Court Hotel, Fleet Street. Nightly rates start from £200.
Tucked away in a quiet courtyard in the heart of the old city of London, this characterful, family-owned hotel is a real find, especially for history buffs. It’s on Fleet street, the home of British press, where the city’s first newspaper was printed in the eighteenth century. It’s also minutes from two of the capital’s four Inns of Court: Inner Temple and Middle Temple, where English criminal lawyers receive their training and near the Royal Courts of Justice. Not only that but part of the hotel is in the former headquarters of the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office, founded in London in 1706, the world’s first life insurance company. The motto of the Amicable Society was prudens simplicitas (prudent simplicity) which visitors can see written on the iron entry gates to the hotel. Renowned architect Robert Adam, who was responsible for many of London’s 18th-century neoclassical buildings, designed this building, some of which still remains. When the building was made into a hotel about a decade ago, the Springford family were careful to preserve the key features, like period fireplaces, mosaic flooring, frescoes and stained glass windows while adding modern interior design, essential comforts and contemporary art. The 184 rooms and suites are large, especially for London and the suites have vast marble bathrooms with a walk-in shower, a freestanding tub and mirrored television. Chambers Restaurant, in the new part of the hotel, offers modern European cuisine while the chic wine bar, Lazy Ballerinas, has a fantastic wine list. Theatreland, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the River Thames and Tate Modern are all close by.
4.Page8 , Covent Garden. A one night double stay starts from £230.
This second venture of the Page Hotels group opened in 2020 and has blossomed into a Covent Garden hot spot. For tourists, the location beside Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, is unbeatable. The 138 soundproof rooms, in a building that used to be a Royal Mail post office, are stylishly decorated with great beds and attractive marble bathrooms. Other nice touches include a Marshall speaker (complete with bespoke playlist accessible by QR code) and a free mini bar with some alcoholic beverages too. There is a coffee shop downstairs and plenty of shops, restaurants and bars nearby in buzzy Covent Garden. For train travelers, Charing Cross station is a five minute walk away.
5. Canopy by Hilton London City. Double rooms are from £249 per night,
One of the first hotels in Hilton’s Canopy brand opened in November 2021 and although its location near Aldgate station in the city of London attracts business travelers, it has more of an artsy rather than corporate vibe. Plus, it’s a short walk away from Tower Bridge, Spitalfields market, Brick Lane and other historic landmarks and museums. The hotel has 340 guest rooms but still manages to have an intimate feel, thanks to the well thought out decor and the attentive service. The interior design reflects the area’s rich history in textiles, with floral patterns and woven fabrics. And in homage to nearby Whitechapel’s contemporary arts scene, interesting works created by neighborhood artists can be seen in the public spaces throughout the hotel. There’s also a 24-hour fitness centre equipped with TechnoGym® equipment and complimentary bikes to explore the local area.The all-day café St Clare Coffee and Bar serves hearty food in a relaxed setting, plus drinks and cocktails. And the fabulous Florattica, the hotel’s new rooftop terrace bar that opened this month features superb cocktails from Serena Carrino (previously at Nightjar). Try the Alma, a delicious herbal concoction of casamigos blanco, ancho reyes, hibiscus, lavender and citrus.The hotel’s eco credentials are noteworthy too with a green roof to aid heat conservation, solar panels, guest beds made from post-industrial recycled steel and wood from sustainable forests and food and drinks from local suppliers.
6.Treehouse Hotel, Marylebone. Rates are from £299, including breakfast.
Treehouse London, across the street from the BBC’s broadcasting house, is at the top of fashionable Regent Street one of London’s best shopping areas. The hotel has transformed the top five floors of a 1960s office block into a buzzy, hipster escape. Design is contemporary with bare concrete ceilings, wooden floors and vintage furniture, as well as fun touches like cuckoo clocks and dartboards in some of the 95 guestrooms. All the rooms have big windows looking across London while the rooftop terrace bar on the 16th floor, The Nest, has awesome 360-degree skyline views of the London Eye, The Shard, Canary Wharf and Regent’s Park. Sustainability is key here with toiletries in big, refillable bottles and filtered water taps in the corridors, with glass bottles in every room to fill up. On the ground floor, there’s a coffee shop and the excellent Pizzeria Mozzaa, the first UK restaurant for acclaimed US based Chef Nancy Silverton.
7.Mama Shelter London Shoreditch. Nightly rates are from £180.
Part of the family-founded Mama Shelter portfolio that launched in Paris in 2008, this east London hotel (the only Mama Shelter in the UK) has the same fun vibe as its siblings. The funky decor is by Paris design firm Dion & Arles . The 194 rooms are small, medium or large, and all have king-size beds, desks, mini fridges and organic toiletries. Lively bars and restaurants are a key part of the brand; there are even fun Karaoke Rooms for a sing-song with friends.
7.Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green. Rooms start from £185 per night.
Also in east London, this stylish 97-room hotel, restaurant and bar is housed in the historic Bethnal Green Town Hall. The Grade-II listed building was restored, refurbished and completed in November 2010 with the addition of a contemporary extension to include a new top floor and wing. The entrance is impressive with a marble entranceway, sweeping staircase and art-deco interior. As well as the chic guestrooms, there’s also one of the largest hotel suites in London. A two Michelin star restaurant and a 14 metre pool and gym, help to make this a truly memorable destination.
8. Ruby Lucy, Southbank. Nightly rates are from £150
Munich-based Ruby Hotel Group’s “lean luxury” ethos is here in this chic yet affordable hotel on London’s bustling Southbank. The hotel’s 75 stylish guest rooms are petite but make great use of space with a big, comfortable bed, a rainfall shower and a Marshall bluetooth speaker. There’s a 24 hour bar on site so it’s a good thing that every room features high-quality soundproofing and blackout systems to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. Interior design was inspired by the area’s markets and theatre scene, with a fairground theme running throughout the hotel. The London Eye, the British Film Institute and the National Theatre are all close by.
9.K-West Hotel & Spa, Shepherd’s Bush. Rooms start from £119 per night
This stylish spa hotel in west London, near the popular Westfield shopping mall, was the former home of BBC offices and recording studios. The 219 guest rooms are spacious, with even the smallest over 200 square feet. The Studio Bar serves cocktails and food ranging from burgers to Korean BBQ chicken. The spa is also a real draw here, featuring a hydrotherapy pool, aromatic herbal steam room, Scandinavian sauna, as well as London’s first Snow Paradise, filled with fine natural snow, and chilled to -15ºC. This entirely unique experience mimics the Finnish tradition of ‘Hot-Cold Therapy’, allowing guests to alternate between freezing and steamy environments. K Spa treatments, including a range of massages and facials, use quality brands such as Germaine de Capuccini and Aromatherapy Associates.
10.The Mitre, Hampton Court. Rooms start from £150
Slightly further afield but still technically London and great if you want to visit Hampton Court palace next door, The Mitre is a gorgeous Grade II-listed boutique hotel, set on the banks of the River Thames. Rebuilt in the mid-18th century, the building dates back to 1665 and was originally used as an ancillary accommodation for guests of King Charles II. Designer Nicola Harding has done a marvelous job on each of the 36 guestrooms and the common areas, creating gorgeous country house like spaces. The riverside 1665 restaurant is fantastic, with a menu offering treats like tortellini of Devon Crab and Lobster and Flaming Baked Alaska. The outdoor terrace is lovely for warmer months.