In September, not one but two billion-dollar hotels opened in London, the Raffles London at the OWO and the Peninsula. The hotels have sparked global chatter, not just about their staggering entry rates—an entry-level room at the Peninsula will set guests back £1,300 (about ₹1.32 lakh) per night, including breakfast, while the Raffles starts at £1,100 (about ₹1.12 lakh)—but about the unprecedented boom in luxury hotels in the UK capital.
That boom is far from over. Next year, more top-tier brands, including Six Senses and a second Mandarin Oriental, will open—along with another entry from Maybourne Group, which owns the city’s iconic five-star Claridges and Connaught. In 2025, the Waldorf-Astoria will open inside the historic Admiralty Arch, a landmark neoclassical building on the Mall that used to house government offices, and the Rosewood is expected to open in the former American embassy in Grosvenor Square.
Finding people to fill all those new rooms doesn’t seem an issue, whatever the cost. According to data from the national tourism agency Visit England, visitors to the UK are happier than ever to splash out, with especially splurge-prone US travelers spending a record £3 billion in the first half of 2023. That represents a jump of 54% from 2019 levels.
Even the city’s most revered luxury icons have revamped themselves to better compete with their just-opened peers. The 200-year-old Claridges is practically a new hotel, having undergone a top-to-bottom, seven-year renovation that will officially wrap in 2024; already it’s unveiled new rooms and suites, plus a spa and £60,000-per-night penthouse with 75 Damien Hirst pieces. (The ongoing work isn’t noticeable to hotel guests.) Similarly, the Dorchester has just undergone its first big renovation in 34 years. It focused on updating the hotel’s rooms and common spaces on the ground floor.
In all, the city has so far seen more than £4 billion of investment in the construction and renovation of luxury hotels in recent years, and the results are staggering. Here’s a guide to the best new options for your next trip.
The Peninsula and its signature fleet of green Rolls Royces have arrived in London, with 190 rooms that are the most spacious in London, starting at 549 square feet. Every little detail has been considered: There are Dyson hair dryers, wireless charging pads, nail drying machines for manicures, do-not-disturb buttons in the marble-clad bathtubs and—a Peninsula signature—a valet box that butlers have access to from the corridors, so room service items or newly shined shoes can be brought to your room without anyone opening the front door. The aviation- and automobile-themed restaurant Brookslands, from celebrated French chef Claude Bosi, is worth a visit, as is a rooftop bar with views that may remind Peninsula regulars of the famed L'Oiseau Blanc at its Paris location. Keeping with the Peninsula’s tradition of ambitious Chinese restaurants, there’s also Canton Blue, which serves dim sum in a gorgeous dining room with blue, red and yellow porcelain plates adorning the walls. Try and get a room overlooking the park, with postcard-perfect views of Wellington Arch. Rooms from £1,300.
What was once the seat of the formidable war office during both world wars is now a 120-room hotel after a £1.4 billion renovation. The second-floor suites are the pièce de résistance—booked upon request—including one that used to be Winston Churchill’s office, with a replica of his desk in the exact spot where he used to work. But you don’t need to spend upwards of $20,000 on a suite to feel connected to the building’s lore: Anyone can stand on the magnificent marble staircase where Churchill gave speeches or rub the head of a lion sculpture for good luck, as civil servants used to do when they worked in the building. Much of the rich, wood-heavy design work is from the late famed designer Thierry Despont, and the hallways are filled with fantastic details, such as buttons on curtains that make subtle reference to the uniforms of the Horse Guards nearby. The property has nine restaurants and three bars, including outposts from famed chef Mauro Colagreco, a Guerlain spa and a 20m pool. Guests should make a point of visiting the subterranean Spy Bar, where they can order such drinks as a Vesper Martini, in a room that was once an interrogation suite. Rooms from £1,100.
This is an oasis of calm close to Regent Street and Piccadilly, some of the busiest areas in central London. The decor is white on white with natural woods, but the vibe is all things green: The lobby desk is made from an oak tree that fell during a storm, a living “chandelier” greets guests at the entrance, and 1,300 plants are artfully scattered around. The spa and bath products are from Cotswolds-based eco-favorite Bamford, and there are filtered water taps in rooms instead of plastic water bottles. Noted chef Tom Sellers helms the restaurant Dovetale, and it has quickly become a Mayfair hot spot, with stellar dishes including a tender roast chicken; leave enough room for Knickerbocker Glory ice cream sundaes, which are served from a charming, vintage-looking trolley. Rooms from £500.
One of London’s most famed grande dames is entering a new era—built atop preserved layers of original 1800s grandeur and art deco swagger. And that “atop” is literal: Over the course of seven years, miners manually dug out five basement levels (so as to not disturb guests with power machinery) and seamlessly added four floors above the original building’s roof, while also expanding into a neighboring building, to effectively double the hotel’s size and add massive amenities. The lobby, with its salon-style dining room, deco details and elaborate florals, looks unchanged—and that’s a good thing—but the rooms are masterpieces of modern sensibility, especially the ones designed by up-and-coming talent Bryan O’Sullivan. One spa with a pool has already been added; a whole other one is on the way as part of a members’ club that will be accessible to guests. In the first floor, the bars and restaurants have all been redone, and a cafe-plus-art-gallery offers grab-and-go pastries that are almost too pretty to eat. Next year another bakery, a florist and retail space will be added, mostly filling a mews-style street behind the hotel that will turn it into an entire luxury complex, for both moneyed Mayfair locals and the hotel’s famously well-heeled guests.
The rooms aren’t huge, but the design is fierce in this reimagined red brick boutique spot; One Sloane is like a smaller, West London iteration of celebrity-favorite Chiltern Firehouse. It comes from the hotelier team behind 1st arrondissement hot spot Hotel Costes, known for its hedonistic courtyard bar that hosts Fashion Week parties. But this location’s 30 rooms are decorated with paneled ceilings, feminine William Morris wallpaper and art deco windows, with some window treatments sourced from quiet luxury stalwart Loro Piana. With the flip of a “love button” in rooms, lights dim and the mood changes. There’s a cozy cocktail bar downstairs and a light-filled French restaurant at the top of the building, looking out across picturesque roofs and chimneys. There’s no gym or spa—and the price reflects that—but all the great shops on the Kings Road and attractions such as Saatchi Gallery are at your doorstep. Rooms from £600.
If Soho is London’s most fun neighborhood, the Broadwick is its most fun hotel, with sumptuous maximalist interiors courtesy of Martin Brudnizki. When it opens this month; the rooftop terrace and bar (Soho rarities) will likely become magnets for the film producers and music industry titans that work nearby; the flagship Italian restaurant Dear Jackie is already stoking the creative class’s curiosity with its moody Murano chandeliers, dark red walls and hand-painted plates. The artsy vibe continues in the hallways and public spaces, which are lined with eclectic pieces by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and William Turnbull, some of which were bought from David Bowie’s personal collection. The 57 rooms aren’t especially large, but they pack a lot of personality. Easy walkability to nearly every London landmark and the proximity of dozens of top-notch bars and restaurants are the real amenities here: Among them, angle toward the fantastic Israeli restaurant Miznon or upscale Chinese Yauatcha, both less than 200 feet away. Rooms from £595.
The art deco icon just got its biggest shakeup since the 1980s. There’s the grand new promenade on the ground floor with its pastel pink and blue velvet chairs and sofas, which leads into the Artist Bar, with a mirrored piano that belonged to Liberace. Rooms have also gotten spruced up by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who took inspiration from neighboring Hyde Park, with soft palettes of light blue, light pink and garden green. The food and drink options are similarly stunning: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester is one of the few three-star restaurants in the UK and Ireland. The Grill by Tom Booton is a more casual option, but offers great fare, such as truffled eggs and soldiers at breakfast. And the Vesper bar was named one of the best new drinking spots in London—try the Bessie Mae, inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s stays, a pink concoction with floating “bath bubbles” on top. (Taylor signed her contract for Cleopatra in the bath at the Dorchester.) A rooftop restaurant is set to open next year. Rooms from £900.