London’s Top Boutique Hotels

We've road-tested four top London boutique hotels to help you choose where to stay.


What do you hate most about staying in a hotel? Is it the impersonality of the rooms and the general lack of homeliness? Or is it that there aren’t enough mirrors/ wardrobes/ tea bags? In theory boutique hotels are intended to be smaller, more comfortable, and more memorable than say, a branch of a Marriott. London has hotels aplenty, and with so many claiming various levels of boutique-ness, we decided to road test four top ones to help you choose where to stay.

For functionality: Malmaison

We thought the definition of “boutique hotel” meant individually decorated rooms with homely touches, and from the outset Malmaison doesn’t seem to adhere to this. Part of the Hotel du Vin group, there are branches in all the major UK cities, and the London Mal (as they affectionately call it) has 97 rooms.

Décor is unremarkable and basic, and there are a few initial irritations: our room is stuffy but the windows don’t open more than a few millimetres, and it’s not possible to get cold water in the bath – the temperature is regulated for you so that only warm water pours out of the tap. This poses a bit of a problem if you fill the bath with too much hot water, or have a masochistic streak and like cold showers. We’re also not impressed with the breakfast that’s delivered to the room, £15 per person gets you little more than a few bitesize pastries. If you’re hungry you’re better off staggering out of bed and eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant. They also pride themselves on producing their very own range of toiletries which are available for sale, but we can’t say we’d choose them over another brand.

On the plus side, it’s very well-priced: single rooms with a double bed start from as little as £45, and double rooms start from £75. For this you get a very comfy bed and a perfectly adequately sized room with a flat screen TV and tea and coffee making facilities. The restaurant is pretty good too, and the Clerkenwell location makes it handy for the City, as this is ideally suited to overnight business trips.
\n\nFor coolness: The Zetter Townhouse

The Zetter Townhouse is boutique at its best, with only 13 kookily furnished rooms. The owners, Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan, are two chaps who know what they’re doing - their first joint venture was acclaimed restaurant Moro; they then went on to open the Zetter Hotel which is widely regarded as one of London’s hippest hotels, and it also has Bistrot Bruno Loubet as its restaurant. Meanwhile, the Cocktail Lounge at the Zetter Townhouse is a combined effort with the people behind the award-winning 69 Colebrooke Row. Yes, it is so cool it hurts.

Even the smallest rooms have iPod docking stations, monsoon showers and four poster beds. Décor is colourful, bordering on eccentric, but it won’t cause you to lose any sleep. Attention to detail is key here, as bathrobes, slippers, classic books and upmarket teas are all provided. There is 24 hour room service too, very important for night owls and hedonists.

Prices start from just £150 for a small double room.
\n\nFor comfort: Ten Manchester Street

Blink and you may not notice this Marylebone hotel except for the large flag that hangs above the entrance. Rooms at Ten Manchester Street are comfortable and bright, with stylish furniture, but it’s the little touches like remote-controlled curtains and slippers that make all the difference. The junior suites have powerful monsoon showers as well as bathtubs, and they even provide a bath pillow for weary heads to rest. Toiletries are by Rituals, there is a bookshelf filled with classic novels, and the bed is so snug it’s very difficult to leave it in the morning.

We’re not overly impressed with the restaurant, if only because there are so many exciting options nearby, but breakfast (which you can get delivered to your room for just an extra £3) is fantastic. A full English, Eggs Royale, yoghurt, fruit, coffee and fruit juice is a great start to the day. A trip to the cigar terrace, where there is an extensive selection of cigars available, is also recommended.

Rooms start from £149 for a double, junior suites cost upwards from £259.

For rock ‘n’ roll: Sanctum Soho

This hip celebrity hotel has seen the likes of everyone from TOWIE’s Lauren Pope to Hollywood actor Gerard Butler party on its roof terrace, plus two members of Iron Maiden are investors. The bar is open 24 hours a day and there’s a rooftop hot tub, how much more rock ‘n’ roll can you get?

But what about the rooms? Sanctum Soho inhabits a Georgian townhouse with just 30 rooms that are both swanky and comfortable, although some do get a little OTT with the diamante and gilded furnishings. All have monsoon showers and huge, deeply inviting beds, some of which are circular.

Playing the rock star doesn’t come cheap as drinks at the bar are pricey, with cocktails starting from £12.50, but we do like the indulgent Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea for £50 which includes a tankard of Jack Daniels, poached oysters and salmon and caviar bagels.

The smallest rooms start from £250, including a full English breakfast.

Previous Feature

The Tower of London has been a fortress, place of residence, prison, execution site and zoo.

Next Feature

We take a look at London's association with the brown stuff.