Fantasy and extravagance
Escape from reality in the The Portobello Hotel, a discreet town-house hotel close to the Portobello antiques market and the elegant Royal Kensington Gardens. Hidden behind the stately façade are twenty-one theatrical yet tasteful themed suites (from £200) where exotic antiques combine with the Old-World charm of four-poster beds and free-standing bath tubs.
Blakes Hotel in the upscale residential neighbourhood of Chelsea also proposes a range of fantastical interiors inspired by different destinations and periods, each one individually designed in lavish detail. Choose the a chinoiserie-filled opium den, a bright and airy Colonial-style room with crisp white sheets and muslin drapes or the sumptuous suite decorated in racy reds and rich velvet that would make a medieval cardinal blush. Rates start at £220.
It’s all about glamour in The Wellesley, a boutique hotel devoted to the opulence of Art Deco. Decorated in black, cream and gold hues with marble bathrooms and glossy veneered furniture, this superb hotel gives guests the impression they’re living a romance on the silver-screen, while the obliging personnel make sure everyone feels like a Hollywood star. From £315.
The magnificent Milestone Hotel Kensington has delighted many couples on a romantic getaway with its ornate Victoriana style and dedicated service, earning this five-star hotel hundreds of five-star reviews. Located in a converted 17th-century manor house looking over Kensington Palace and Gardens, the Milestone is just a short stroll from the Royal Albert Hall, so perfect for evening at the Proms. From £340.
Whether for honeymooning or just cocooning, Egerton House Hotel has surpassed the high expectations of its guests time and time again. Thoughtful, personalised touches and excellent standards down to the smallest details were noticed and appreciated, with the breakfast and afternoon tea described as faultless. Set within a renovated town house, the rooms and suites are compact, but the luxurious traditional décor, the plush furnishings and the pleasant Chelsea setting are worth the compromise. From £280.
If Pride and Prejudice isn’t necessarily your idea of romance, check in to a contemporary den of design.
Located in the heart of the West End theatre land, the W London Leicester Square (from £280) is a glitzy mix of rock-star luxury and lavish design that offers “Whatever/Whenever” service. Shimmering fabrics and mirror doors break up the modern open-plan layouts, and cheeky features such as “peek-a-boo” holes in the showers hint at the hotel’s playful philosophy. Go wild in your room or at the ground-floor nightclub, where DJs and giant mirror balls push the hedonistic theme even further (those looking for peace and quiet should request a room on one of the upper floors).
In the same thoroughly modern vein of bold design, CitizenM London Bankside is also modelled around a cool, futuristic aesthetic. Once in your room, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your over-sized bed to adjust the heating, change the mood-lighting or choose a movie as all of these functions are controlled by a snazzy tablet. Set in the middle of the arts district on the South Bank, a stroll along the river or a visit to the Tate Modern are both within easy reach, plus the price (from £130) is more affordable than a central hotel north of the river.
Also on the Thames, Rafayel on the Left Bank offers romantic panoramic views over the river from floor-to-ceiling windows. The rooms and suites have spacious, sleek bathrooms, fitted with either Jacuzzi bath tubs or showers that hide speaker systems hooked up to iPod docks. Use of the hotel’s small spa on the top floor is also included in the price. Guests have found Rafayel good value for money: situated a little further away from the tourist attractions, rates start at £110.
Love on a budget
Love may be a costly game to play, but there are also options for those on a budget. While you may have to compromise on the thread count and do without room service, the following two hotels offer quirky charm and intimacy without the hefty price tag.
Spice things up in the Latin American-themed Church Street Hotel, where comfy cast-iron framed beds and colourful décor offer a refreshing change from a bland B&B. Funky furnishings such as woven blankets, Mexican artwork and hand-painted tiles give an authentic edge to the rooms, achieving an exotic, cosy feel without resorting to gimmicks. The organic, locally sourced breakfast gets the thumbs-up. From £80.
In the trendy neighbourhood of Dalston with its original bars and restaurants, The Luxury Inn offers a serene and private getaway at a small price (from £65). Hints of understated Japanese style set off the simple, neutral décor in this stylish urban guesthouse. A buffet breakfast is included in the price, and guests can help themselves to tea and coffee, relax among the bamboo on the terrace, or make a meal in the shared kitchen before heading out.