A flurry of newcomers to WC1 is putting the area back on the map, plus a classic London favourite and a glorious country newbie. Edited by Daisy Finer.
Best Bloomsbury Hotels
THE BLOOMSBURY, WC1
A fresh gem on the London hotel scene. Interior designer Martin Brudnizki has added glorious glamour and an urban meets Arts-and-Crafts vibe to this Lutyens- designed building dating back to 1928. The Jazz Age pink cocktail bar, The Coral Room, buzzes with atmosphere and is the ideal setting for either Afternoon Tea, a Bloody Mary, or a glass of pink fizz. It’s just an incredibly nice place to be – slick service and everything done properly.
Meanwhile, you can feast on sublime roast lamb and other delights outside at the Dalloway Terrace, where they’ll give you a hot water bottle if you’re cold. This has to be one of the loveliest al fresco spots in town. Downstairs, there are more candlelit nooks, and upstairs in the bedrooms the loveliest wallpapers, textures and colours. The whole place exudes character and flair, and combines the cerebral with the celebratory.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £255, doylecollection.com
KIMPTON FITZROY, WC1
Having emerged from an extravagant overhaul, this dramatic listed building is more suggestive of corridors-of-power than literati haunt. Tara Bernerd & Partners’ rooms smack of New York finery, with soft creamy furnishings and clean, contemporary lines. Some come with plush four-poster beds, standalone bathtubs and original fireplaces.
The bar, named ‘Fitz’ after Charles Fitzroy, the hotel’s original designer, is a nod to its former Victorian flamboyance – think plumes of feathers, velvet confidante sofas and sultry fabrics; an enormous disco ball adds a contemporary spin. Neptune, the seafood focused restaurant with its all-natural wine list, was once the inspiration for the restaurant aboard the Titanic. Thankfully, the scene here is a little more upbeat with pink and lime hues and simply presented lobster. You can also hunker down with a book and a festive nutmeg latte in the hotel’s moody coffeehouse Burr & Co.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £225, phcompany.com
THE ACADEMY, WC1
Five Georgian townhouses have been converted into this charmingly run 50-bedroom hotel which feels cosy and intimate rather than grand. Interiors have been boldly reinvented by New York firm, Champalimaud, and seamlessly blend vintage and modern. Bold use of colours and textures, high ceilings, good sized beds, thoughtfully done lighting all add to the scene.
The Alchemy Bar is a fun place for pre-dinner cocktails and just around the corner, you can try new Italian restaurant Macellaio which majors in incredible steak, fresh horseradish, mini roasted potatoes and red wine. In fact, it’s worth staying just to eat here. If you can muster breakfast it’s beautifully laid out in the basement restaurant as an extravagant buffet. Cute though not ground-breaking.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £300, theacademyhotel.co.uk
This is Jacques Garcia’s first London designed hotel (in a former Baptist church) in Holborn, just on the edge of Bloomsbury, an area bereft of hotels, bar the ever-gorgeous Rosewood. If you’re visiting the Sir John Soane Museum or looking for somewhere in the area for cocktails, the Saints and Sinners Baptist Bar is somewhere new. Whether the ‘80s throwback design throughout the hotel is for you is another question. It’s a fine line between theatrical and over-the-top gaudiness.
Thirty-nine bedrooms are dark and masculine and the look is Baroque boudoir: Doulton fireplaces, a seven-storey chandelier, a lot of crystal bird lights, a lot of purple and dark reds. It’s up to you to decide, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Oscar Wilde said (and it’s named in his honour), ‘I have the simplest taste, I always require the best,’ and someone obviously thinks this is it.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £370, oscar.com
THE SAVOY, WC2
It is truly at Christmas that London’s grande dame hotels come into their own, unrivalled by young pretenders without the gravitas of history – and none more so than at Britain’s first luxury hotel, The Savoy. Step inside that twinkling, polished black and white-tiled foyer and leave your cares firmly at the door (and your shopping bags with the valet). Bag a river-view room (like Monet did all those years ago), then kick back with a Harry Craddock’s White Lady in the world’s most famous drinking den, The American Bar, beloved by star-sprinkled names like Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe and Neil Armstrong.
Soak up the excess with 38-day aged côte de boeuf at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill (they offer children’s, gluten-free and vegan options too) or fresh oysters at Kaspar’s. Theatreland is on the doorstep so take in a show while you’re here.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £550, fairmont.com