New order - 5 modern London hotels that threaten the old guard
Can The Savoy and The Dorchester keep up with the new high-tech generation?Neil Churchill January 25, 2015
If we were to write a list of the things we love about London, we would be here for quite a while. 'Quite a while' being the English term for a very long time.
Somewhere near the top of that list though would be the word 'hotels'. The English capital has more luxury, famous, historic hotels than it knows what to do with. The problem is however - although as problems go, it's not a bad one - those hotels do not come as a surprise anymore. The Savoy, The Dorchester, The Langham, The Lanesborough, Claridge’s, The Ritz - they have all been immortalised through their roles in history, their famous guests and cameo film appearances.
However, there is a new order in town, and while they might be lacking in history to their more established peers, they make up for it with modern day style, high tech gadgets and 21st Century service.
Shangri-la, The Shard
As the tallest building in Western Europe, The Shard was never going to be subtle. So it makes sense that a plush, high-end hotel would fill its much sought-after real estate. That honour goes to the Shangri-la.
The 202 state-of-the-art rooms (some with bathtubs overlooking Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament) are accompanied by three food and beverage destinations and a 24-hour gym on the 52nd floor that boasts London’s highest infinity pool.
The jewel in its lofty crown is the champagne and cocktail bar Gong, with unparalleled views over the old city. If you are looking for something a little bit more British, then you can pick up a hamper of tea and crumpets from its ground floor patisserie, Lang. Location: The Shard, London Bridge Street, SE1
The Soho Hotel
The old guard would have shuddered at the thought of setting up an establishment in Soho in the 1800s. Home now to London's media neighbourhood, the area is buzzing with quirky bars and modern restaurants, although there is still plenty of the area's red-light offerings that it was notorious for back in the day.
Despite retaining some of its original red brick exterior, The Soho Hotel's 85 guest rooms and eight private apartments are all decorated with modern English style. Eclectic and contemporary rooms - some with floor-to-ceiling windows - feature solid granite and oak surfaces, as well as plenty of local art.
It also hosts a film club every Sunday in its screening room, showing both recent and classic flicks. If you get hungry, you can combine your movie night with a three-course dinner, or champagne afternoon tea. Location: Richmond Mews, Soho, W1
Spanish hotel brand ME by Melia has set its own benchmarks high with a host of chic locations from Ibiza to Dubai and Cuba to Croatia. Found on The Strand, its London branch is in plum position for Covent Garden's theatre district, tourist hotspots in Westminster and the restaurants and bars of Leicester Square.
Designed by renown architects Foster and Partners, all 157 rooms are exquisitely decorated with ultra-modern interiors, while some of the 16 suites boast views of the Thames. True to form, ME London hosts a bar on its enviable rooftop, offering panoramic views of the city.
International fine dining is on offer with STK London and Cucina Asellina - as well as Radio Rooftop Bar - offering delectable modern cuisine to match the hotel's contemporary personality. Location: 336-337 The Strand, WC2
Sometimes a hotel in London can surprise us, in fact all of the names in this list have done just that. But Eccleston Hotel really left our jaws on the floor.
Set in a gorgeous Georgian townhouse, this ultra-modern hideaway's private garden seemingly transports you away from the bustle of the city, and yet you're really in Victoria, just minutes from London's most popular attractions.
Tech modernists will adore the Eccleston - a member of Design Hotels - with contemporary fittings filling each of the rooms. Although there is also a heavy dose of classic class mixed in too at this boutique gem. Location: Eccleston Square, SW1
Probably the most eccentrically British hotel in all of London, and it makes no apologies for it. Everything from its seemingly random objets d'art to its five types of themed rooms - botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy - will leave you as pleased as you are perplexed.
Set in South Kensington, its style fits the area with the neighbourhood's boutique shops within walking distance and the world-famous Harrods a 10-minute stroll away. All 111 rooms are lavishly decorated with velvet headboards, large LCD screens and toiletries by London perfumer Miller Harris.
However the entry-level double rooms are more small than they are cosy; we'd even suggest skipping the superior or deluxe options altogether and going for a deluxe studio, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer wonderful skyline views. Location: 10 Harrington Road, SW7