London's a happening place and, like any major city, it has some great places known only to locals or those with inside knowledge. None more so than with the hotel scene. London has some great little gems that have held best-kept-secret status. Until now... Embrace the buzz of the West End theatre land at One Leicester Street, a paired back gem of a retreat on the doorstep of the red carpets of Leicester Square. The culturally minded will love exploring Kensington’s rich museum scene (and pop up ice rinks during the winter) from the quirky and colourful Ampersand Hotel. South Place in the city is a slick affair perfect for design mavens, and just aroud the corner from Shoreditch’s boutiques and bars. Whatever your tonic, these three are bound to get you buzzing. (Just keep it to yourself when you get back home...)
THE AMPERSAND HOTEL
The lowdown A witty treasure trove set amongst the best institutions in town.
Best for A slice of historical beauty served with a twist.
Literally a stone’s throw from Exhibition Road, the Ampersand is the prime location for exploring South Kensington’s finest. Drawing inspiration from neighbours such as the V&A and Natural History Museums, the hotel is a modern cabinet of curiosities, following the five themes of botany, music, geometry, ornithology and astronomy; exotic animals decorate the Drawing Room and Da Vinci-esque sketches line the walls.
Livingetc loved the winged Ingo Maurer lighting installation fluttering up the stairs and our bird bedecked room, with its decadent bathroom and snuggly bed for us to nest in.
The restaurant and bar Aperoserves delicious sharing dishes as well as intricate cocktails (try the sweet and peppery Quattro Fiumi) amongst the exposed brick and copper pipes of the Victorian cellar arches. An excellent specimen indeed.
Book it:From £175.
CITY OF LONDON
The lowdown Bridging work hard and play hard on the limits of the financial district.
Best for Taking in the skyline from the roof terrace bar.
Discreetly tucked away in Moorgate’s back streets, South Place is a perfect melting pot of the local area; stylish with a low-key glamour, it’s a hybrid of city slicker meets East End creative. Making the most of local talents, everything from the toiletries to the staff uniforms are sourced locally, and the hotel boasts a particulary strong collection of art from the edgy Shoreditch scene, complimented by furniture upholstered in tweed and houndstooth check (a nod to its suited and booted neighbours) from the likes of Minotti and Moooi.
The first hotel owned by award winning restaurant group D&D London, South Place’s dining options are top notch; there’s a less formal restaurant on the ground floor, but the jewel in the crown is the rooftop fine dining restaurant Angler. Run by head chef Tony Fleming, the menu is, as the name suggests, seafood focused with an impressive wine list to boot. Livingetc loved having Sommelier Julia pick out wines to match our courses, all part of the service.
Book it:From £152.
The lowdown a quiet, modern gentlemen's retreat in the heart of London's bustling china town.
Best for Foodies, theatre goers and lovers of Scandinavian chic
A design savoy’s haven nestled in London’s Chinatown, One Leicester Street is a warm, red brick building on the outside and masculine Scandinavian chic on the inside. The dark blue and grey colour palette is complimented with splashes of mustard, beautiful wood and hints of copper on the lights and mirrors.
The Michelin star chef Tom Harris has created a beautiful, playful menu using only the best ingredients. The simple hafod cheese and fresh honeycomb was a wonderful surprise to the end of the lunch. The bar at One Leicester Street is a hidden gem. Tucked away up the nautical stair case on the first floor is open to non-diners and a must visit for any Londoner.
The Hotel rooms are perfect for a weekend city break, fresh Egyptian sheets and heavenly comfy beds. The white wood clad “Post- theatre” rooms are a wonderful retreat after the bright lights of London’s nights.