London hasn’t been at its best during lockdown. It’s a harsh truth — but one to which shuttered businesses, bankrupt restaurants and strained public transport will attest. Everyone who lives in the city has been struggling with self-isolation; unable to enjoy the trappings of urban life but stuck here all the same.
So why not make the most of it? There are some of the world’s best hotels on our doorstep and — because we’re usually jet-setting off to far-flung destinations — we’ve never really thought about checking in. Well, we’ve been missing out. From a centuries-old institution to the newest boutique boltholes, this city is one of the best in the world for a luxury staycation…
For a delightfully decadent escape, check into Claridge’s
Where better to start than with one of the finest five-star hotels in the world? Claridge’s is the epitome of timeless elegance — a jewel in the crown of the already gem-addled Mayfair. The rooms are incredible; and the suites on another level altogether. While there are more pricey options — including the Empress Eugenie Suite and grand piano-appointed Royal Suite — we’d recommend the Corner Suite.
Sitting, as the name suggests, on the edge of the hotel, Claridge’s Corner Suite could be the perfect staycation option. It’s at once tucked away and at the centre of the capital, with high ceilings, bay windows and enough Regency antiques to make nearby Sotheby’s seethe with envy. Add to that an Emperor bed (it’s a touch bigger than a King, apparently), a personal butler and one of those futuristic Japanese robot toilets, and you’ve got a decadent escape on your doorstep.
Claridge’s Corner Suite
For a serene Sunday getaway, head to Dukes Hotel
Dukes, the sophisticated, luxury hotel tucked away in St. James’s, says that while you’ll “arrive as a guest”, you’ll “leave as a friend”. And no wonder. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who has sumptuous suites, a Great British restaurant and decades worth of celebrity stories? The hotel bar — arguably more famous than the hotel itself — is also where Ian Fleming mixed up the famous Vesper Martini for the first time.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. You have to check-in first. And what better accommodation option than the hotel’s Duke of Clarence Suite? With a grand marble bathroom, fully stocked mini bar and a private balcony that overlooks Green Park, it sounds like the perfect Sunday. What’s more, if you fancy penning a best-selling spy thriller of your own, this room also comes equipped with a Fleming-approved classic writing desk.
Dukes’ The Duke of Clarence Suite
If you’re feeling especially exclusive, check out The Rosewood
London’s Rosewood Hotel appears to have more suites and ‘houses’ than actual rooms. The number of beautifully bespoke, ludicrously appointed options is baffling — but sets the stage perfectly for a no-expenses spared staycation. Even better is that the restored belle epoque-decorated Edwardian mansion is just a two minute walk from Holborn station.
Once inside — and if you can tear yourself past the red leather banquettes and 200 single malts of the bar — you’ll be faced with endless accommodation options. There is, thankfully, a right choice; the Manor House Suite. With its own spacious foyer, eight-person dining room and even a library, it’s like a Cluedo board come to life (but without all that nasty business with Dr Black). Fun fact: if you’re feeling really ostentatious, and want to book the five connecting rooms, you’ll be the sole occupant of an entire London postcode.
The Rosewood Manor House Suite
For an oasis in the city, try St. James’s Hotel
There are many benefits to checking into the St. James’s Hotel and Club. First of all, it’s a club — so you’re guaranteed a calm, relaxing stay without too many people lumbering into the lobby while you’re trying to enjoy a nightcap. Secondly, it can be found in a quaint, quiet cul-de-sac — so there’ll be no blaring car horns or noisy traffic to wake you up. And thirdly? It’s just two minutes’ walk from the shirtmakers and cigar sellers of Jermyn Street.
What more could you want? How about some outdoor space? You could opt for the Penthouse Suite — which takes up the entire seventh floor of the hotel and is only accessible by private lift — but we’d go slightly smaller; the Terrace Suite. One of the St. James’s signature offerings, it boasts panoramic views of the picturesque district, bespoke furniture and a super soft Hypnos mattress.
St. James’s Terrace Suite
For a gastronomic getaway, head to The Berkeley
If your idea of the perfect staycation involves lots of eating and drinking, then The Berkeley is the London hotel for you. Built in a former 1700s coffee house, this ritzy institution doesn’t only offer the requisite London afternoon tea (although it does, and it’s one of the best in town) — it is also blessed with restaurants from Marcus Wareing and Pierre Koffmann, and the iconic Blue Bar, where you’ll while away entire evenings sipping colour-coded cocktails.
The accommodation is equally impressive. We’d plump for the Opus Suite; an education in serenity crafted by world-renowned interiors architect André Fu. Knightsbridge hums away outside the window, but you’ll be cocooned in a wood, marble and hardwood herringbone tranquility of your own. And, if you want to carry on your culinary adventure, the Opus suite also features a fitted Poggenpohl kitchen — and a private chef on hand to help out.
The Opus Suite at The Berkeley
For escapism unrivalled, check into The Mandrake
The Mandrake is a strange beast. Hedonistic, idiosyncratic and a little bit intimidating, this is a London hotel unlike London hotels. And it has a penthouse unlike any other penthouse. Despite only opening last year, actresses, musicians and directors have all already called this marble eagle’s nest home during stays in the capital. Choose it for your staycation, and you could join the illustrious list.
There’s a custom-made cashmere mattress to sleep on, a six-person Jacuzzi bath to lounge in and an eight-person dining table to eat at. But the best part? In the bathroom, the roof actually retracts above you — to give you the feeling of relaxing under the night’s stars whilst still slap bang in the centre of Fitzrovia.
The Mandrake Penthouse
For a rural feel in an urban setting, try The Stafford
The Stafford is another unique hotel in Britain’s capital. Established in 1912 and set in a stately 17th-century building and its former carriage houses, it may be a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace — but it feels like it could be a country bolthole. And the accommodation, split across the stable-like carriage houses, offers a more homely feel than your usual five-star fare.
The Carriage House Junior Suite, particularly, feels like a cottage. It may be swathed in sumptuous fabrics and elegantly decorated, but there’s something familiar about the place. It may be the Floris toiletries in the bathroom. It could be the handy desk sitting pretty in the corner. Or perhaps it’s the service — stay longer than two nights and you’ll get a complimentary transfer back to Heathrow. Whatever it is, it stands alone in London’s competitive hotel scene.
The Stafford’s Carriage House Junior Suite
For those looking to indulge, there’s nowhere like The Cadogan
If you’re a history buff, then there is no London hotel better than The Cadogan. Not only is the boutique institution set in a Victorian building, itself steeped in history — but it was also famously the site of Oscar Wilde’s arrest in 1895 after losing a libel case.
Our favourite suite, The Royal Suite, is the room where the infamous arrest happened. Couple that dramatic history with an expansive marble bathroom, immaculate living and dining rooms and a dedicated butler, and you’ve got a weekend indulgent enough that even Wilde himself would approve of it.
The Cadogan’s Royal Suite
For those happy with their own company, The Standard
They say that casinos don’t have windows so you can’t tell what time of day it is. They also say that like it’s a bad thing. In London’s King’s Cross, The Standard has many types of modern, meticulously decorated rooms — but it’s the innovative ‘Cosy Core’ concept that swings it for us.
Designed to be a secluded space; a private and lush oasis in the heart of the building, these rooms are chocked with plants, fluffy down pillows and bespoke bathrobes. And, with a Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speaker and minibar stuffed with treats, it’s the ideal staycation destination to party the night away in private.
The Standard ‘Cosy Core’
Looking to flee London? We asked the experts for their perfect autumn/winter staycations…
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