London had a big 2012 but the swinging capital shows no sign of slowing down as the New Year kicks in—particularly when it comes to hotels. A stylish slew opened in time for the Olympics but a new crop has already stolen some of their thunder, with more on the way. From hip boutiques to reborn classics — many designed by world-class architects — here are five new lodgings to land on during your next jump across the pond. (Scroll down for photographic evidence!)
Culinary powerhouse D&D London, with more than a dozen restaurants (Le Pont de la Tour, Plateau) has entered into the hotel business and its first property is the art-themed South Place in the City, not far from the Gherkin and the London Stock Exchange. In the 80 rooms expect snazzy Conran-designed interiors (Egg-style chairs, black marble baths, contemporary artwork) while the ground-floor brasserie and seafood-rich Angler restaurant helmed by Marco Pierre White acolyte Tony Fleming have quickly become an in-spot for bankers and Liverpool commuters. When the dreary winter weather subsides, Hendrick’s martinis are to be sipped on the rooftop terrace.
Can a hotel brand itself six stars? That is precisely what the Wellesley has done. Housed in a 1920s townhouse in the ritzy Knightsbridge section (Harrods and Hyde Park are nearby), there are just 36 suites, all designed by renowned firm Fox Linton, the team behind One Aldwych. Deco-style accents — crystal chandeliers, mirrored furnishings — are found throughout, and while there are plenty of posh eating and drinking venues nearby (with a house Rolls to deliver you in style), the refined Italian fare in the Oval restaurant, the single-malt whiskeys and cognacs in the Crystal Bar, and selection of limited edition stogies in the Cigar Lounge make the Wellesley a place worth lingering.
Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill once held court at the Café Royal, an 1865 Georgian beauty on Regent Street and now, after a four-year, top-to-bottom renovation spearheaded by David Chipperfield Architects, the 159-room hotel is back in a big way. Its elegant interiors have been spruced up and high-tech perks like Bang & Olufsen media systems and Wi-fi have been added. The gilded Grill Room has been reborn as a Champagne and caviar lounge, while the brasserie-style Ten Room serves meals all day, including afternoon tea. And we wonder what Wilde would have made of the Akasha Holistic Well-Being Center complete with hammam and organic juice bar.
When it opens fully later this winter, the ME London, located in the Marconi Building, the original home of BBC radio, will add a dash of modern glam to the hotels along the Strand, including the iconic Savoy. The hotel (part of the growing ME brand from Spanish-owned Melia) is the first to be designed by Foster + Partners, who added a contemporary stone and glass extension to the historic building as well as floor-to-ceiling windows in the 157 rooms. Dine in STK, the transplanted American steakhouse, followed by drinks in the Thames-facing rooftop Radio bar with a sleek white-on-white décor, both of which have already opened ahead of the full hotel opening.
In what’s sure to be a splashy debut this spring, Shangri-La will open its first hotel in the United Kingdom within the 1,106 foot Renzo Piano-designed Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe. Comprising floors 34 through 52, one of the biggest draws of the high-altitude hotel will undoubtedly be the jaw-dropping vistas of the London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin and other famous London landmarks from its 202 rooms. While precise food and beverage details have yet to be released, expect a fine dining restaurant, a gourmet café with artisanal dishes and a signature cocktail lounge perched on the 52nd floor.
More London coverage on Food Republic:
- How To Eat Fish And Chips In London, And Who Does It Best
- Top 10: Gastropubs In London
- Guide: London’s Proper Boozers