The word boutique is often overused.
Dictionary definition: a business that serves a sophisticated or specialised clientele.
While many hotels may claim to serve the sophisticated not all pass the test.
The following are some of the most quirky, fun and characterful hotels in London.
Stay planning that staycation now.
The Portobello Hotel
Sophistication does not come more special than Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. It is the Portobello Hotel that was the scene of the legendary, probably apocryphal, episode of these two bathing in champagne in the claw-foot bath in room 16 back in 1998.
The hotel certainly has a certain eccentricity with its pastel walls and 18th century regency decor that puts you in mind of a pretty country house.
The little antique teaspoons and the Victorian squire feel (think EM Forster and Thackeray) are soothing to the senses and it is a place your grandmother would definitely like. But you’re more likely to find Alice Cooper chasing his snake here.
The rooms overlook a private garden round the back, secluded away from the hullaballoo of London. It’s a nice look at another world.
Charming madness can be experienced in a quiet cobbled street off Liverpool St. Lavatories aren’t often a draw, but the crappers at Batty Langley’s are one of the high points.
At first look you’ll wonder why there’s an antique wooden chair in the bathroom—but lift the decorated oak lid and you’re in business.
The place has the convincing aura of a 17th century townhouse updated for the modern age.
From the carved oak beds, to the rich purple and gold walls, the Jacobean paintings to the rooms named after prostitutes and robbers— the hotel will dazzle you with its the idiosyncratic quirkiness.
Flemings is slap bang in the heart of Mayfair, flags waving on Half Moon Street. There’s something Bertie Wooster about the place, with its amusing elegance and little rooms that are tasteful and bijou.
However, what really takes the award here is its restaurant, Ormer, where you’ll have one of the most surprisingly beautiful dining experiences you’ll have in London.
There are the drinks that one craves but never knew one craved. English champagne, Alsatian Riesling, recommended by the highly knowledgeable sommelier to accompany Jersey crab and Dover sole in an illustrious art deco surrounding.
Please, get yourself a table.
Built in an old Victorian grammar school on the skirts of London Bridge LaLiT is an oddball elegant mash-up.
Walking down the sloped-ceiling corridors you’ll find yourself in a classroom-sized room which might recall the thwack of ruler and chalk on blackboard.
But these rooms are as individual as they are interesting, combining bespoke Indian art with the starched upper lip of the British education system.
Your shower cubicles appears built out of what was once a boys changing room. And the restaurant downstairs, in high-ceilinged assembly hall where you can hear the ghosts of prize giving being announced, recalls a Victorian Raj, times-past colonial setting.
The Soho Hotel is where class meets quirk. The panoramic entrance waits at the end of a street in the manner of the Savoy. And the hotel is no less stylish.
The first thing to note is the record player with Buddy Holly, Miles Davis, The Beatles and other classic albums waiting in your room. Ring down if there’s any other you want. Service here is faultless.
The Kit Kemp designed rooms are done with bespoke attention.
Right from the quirky details on the fireplace, the zig zag curtain ends to the big bay windows, the huge living room, dressed in light, the muted greys, the Soho art deco and the deep baths—this is a place you will want to spend time in.
There is personal attention. Then there is the Milestone. Turning up to find business cards with your name printed on them in a silver card holder tells you everything you need to know about the place. The hotel is a small and friendly bolt hole with a distinctly regal air—perhaps rubbed off from Kensington Palace opposite.
From Pedro your impeccable butler offering to iron your clothes and pack your suitcase, to the London teabags left in the evening, the little book of Churchill quotes with attached light on the pillow, the embroidered t-shirt and printed weather, report this place goes above and beyond the call of duty.
If Churchill isn’t your thing head down to the Stables bar decorated like a jockey club which has a small terrace outside where a Murano glass chandelier with Venice carnival characters will keep you entertained as you sit and sip on their signature Old Fashioned cocktails made by Angelo the barman.
You will leave with a smile on your face.
Covent Garden Hotel
More fresh and light-filled rooms designed by Kit Kemp of Soho Hotel wait for you at the Covent Garden Hotel, located in the heart of theatreland.
Characterised by colourful pieces of art, huge signature headboards, bespoke wallpaper and hand-made cushions, the rooms are witty and light-hearted, eschewing the serous gravity of some of London’s more “luxurious” hotels.
The clowning continues downstairs—the papier mache mounted fish in the restaurant, Brasserie Max, looks down at you as you’re enjoying the fresh, simple food with the light of Monmouth Street streaming in through the windows.
With a small, elegant library and snug, the hotel is often chosen as a filming venue and has its own 48-seat cinema in the basement.