London hotels that offer something a little different and enough edge to up your Insta game? Check-in here
Think London hotels, and you tend to think swanky, suited doormen in white gloves, old-school glamour and a view over Hyde Park (if you’re lucky). But a new wave of affordable and undiscovered hotels, hostels and B&Bs are popping up around the city to kick the big guns into touch by offering something a little different. From sleek modernist interiors that will make you feel like you’re sleeping inside an art installation, to secret suites with walls that tell tales of a hidden city, we’ve unearthed the coolest London hotels that will surprise and delight you in equal measures. Because a comfy bed and a well-stocked bar are just the beginning.
London hotels for arty folk
Green Rooms, Wood Green
Is it a hotel? Is it a social enterprise? Is it a creative hub? Well, all of the above, actually. Setting itself apart in a city of big chain hotels and offering something less formulaic, Green Rooms opened in 2016 and has been attracting curious artists visiting and working in London. Providing an affordable place to stay in the city (rooms start from £24 per night, which is much less than your average cab ride back to the suburbs) and with connections to London’s leading cultural institutions, including Somerset House and Royal Court Theatre, it has become something of a community for creative minds to meet. By day, it offers inspiring workspaces and by night it hosts exhibitions and plays from emerging artists and performers, plus a buzzing bar area full of interesting people to meet and connect with. Forget silicon roundabout, this might just be the birthplace of the next big start-up idea.
Unique London hotels
Batty Langley’s, Spitalfields
If hotels had dating profiles, Batty Langley’s would win for its GSOH (a pre-Tinder reference there, for all you millennials). Tucked away down the historic cobbled streets of East London’s Spitalfields and in stumbling distance to the market, this small hotel is big on quirky charm. Each of the 29 bedrooms at Batty Langley’s is named after a character from Spitalfield’s chequered past – tarts, thieves, silk merchants, vagabonds – offering a glimpse into the rich Georgian history of the area and transporting you to the stuff your favourite novels are made of. There’s Kitty Fisher (courtesan), Obadiah Shuttleworth (musician), Ann Flynn (petty thief), James Stillwell (silk merchant), or The Box Room, which is quite possibly London’s coolest bedroom for solo guests. Tip: the hotel’s communal areas are lined with ancient book shelves but if you want to lose yourself in your own personal book-nook, The Earl of Bolingbroke suite comes complete with it’s own fully-stocked library wall. The split-level suite, painted in on-trend navy (we’re going to take a stab at Farrow and Ball’s Hague Blue) with gilt gold accents, has an ancient marble bath as its centrepiece and a private roof terrace. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a breakfast of smoked salmon bagels, baked fresh in nearby Brick Lane.
Rates at Batty Langley’s start from £250 per room, per night including taxes, based on two sharing. For bookings and reservations contact: www.battylangleys.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / T – 0207 377 4390
Best-kept secret in London (for now)
Redchurch Townhouse, Shoreditch
Just two minutes’ walk from Shoreditch House, this boutique sister hotel, and newest member of the Soho House Group is a discreet hideaway down a side street in buzzing East London – and the good news is that Redchurch Townhouse is open to non-members too. In true ‘House’ style, each of the 37 bedrooms is bedecked with impeccable details, from the retro chandeliers to contemporary furniture by cutting-edge designers, inspired by interiors from the 1950s-1970s. Reassuringly, in the rooms you’ll find the usual decadent low-lighting, luxury linen and the full range of Cowshed spa products, beautifully lined up in a shower big enough to fit ten people, I mean, if that’s your kind of thing. However, the pearl in the crown at Redchurch Townhouse is the opening of legendary Cecconi’s Shoreditch on the ground floor. Tuck in to classic Italian dishes with a modern twist – cicchetti, pasta, seafood and pizza from the wood-fired oven – washed down with top-notch Italian cocktails. The restaurant walls are more gallery than eatery, with 40 works of art sourced from 40 local artists under 40 celebrating the reach up-and-coming talent in the area. There’s a tongue-in-cheek neon light by Sarah Maple, and a drawing from a pencil series by Hannah Quinlan and Rose Hastings. Make sure you stay over though – not just for that shower – but the breakfast is worth hanging around for, as are the Pinterest-worthy mosaic floors. We’re moving in.
Rooms start from £170 (breakfast not included)
Eco friendly London hotels
Qbic London, Whitechapel
An urban hotel that refuses to bow down to convention, Qbic London opened in 2013. You won’t find hotel rooms here, instead you’ll sleep in a futuristic ‘pod’ complete with bed, bathroom, design-led furnishings and local modern art. Qbic also has big green credentials – they generate their own solar power, save water with their high-tech jet system and run their own bike hire scheme. They also have electric car charging points, organic mattresses and they reward eco-friendly guests who choose not to have their room serviced if they’re staying for longer than one night (saving on water and energy) with a free drink at the bar. This could possibly be the most guilt free of all the London hotels to rest your head. Rooms start from £69.
Unusual London Hotels
Andaz Liverpool Street, City of London
Ever stayed in a hotel with it’s own Masonic Temple? Ever stayed in one with two? The Andaz London Liverpool Street Hotel has both a Greek and an Egyptian Masonic Temple hidden beneath its 267 rooms (which incidentally provide the perfect surroundings for a candlelit dinner), cementing its status on our list of London’s quirkiest hotels. It has recently undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment, with its historic links to East London kept in mind – boasting wall murals and illustrations by local artist Sophie Mo, and photographs by East End photographer Martin Usborne. The Andaz is something of a gateway, situated between the hubbub of Liverpool Street Station and the nightlife of Shoreditch, it is perfectly located for stumbling home after a night on the town – that’s if you can drag yourself out of one of its five restaurants and bars. Proudly bearing the title of ‘East London’s first ever five star hotel’, prices start at £169 per night.