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The Londoner: this urban playground is one of the most sophisicated hotels in London

Felicity Byrnes discovers one of the most intriguing and luxurious hotels in London: The Londoner. 

Dripping with glamour, this ultra-contemporary hotel, six years and 500 million pounds in the making, is the newest London destination. And not just for visitors. The 16 floors (eight above and eight below ground) are attracting the locals in droves.

More urban playground than simply hotel, one can spend a long weekend here without venturing more than a mile radius for world class shows, gastronomy and galleries.

Traveller: Felicity Byrnes
Room: Corner Suite
Address: 38 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DX, United Kingdom
Date: April 2022
Best for: A cool magnet for locals and foreigners alike.

The Signature factor

We love eco-effort and in The Londoner everything in the building has sustainability in mind. It uses 30 per cent less carbon than regulations require for hotels in London.

Visible green initiatives sprout around the hotel with the lighting and temperature control systems reverting to standby mode if no movement is sensed. Every room has refillable Nordaq water bottles which are filtered and bottled on site.

The quiet hotel’s lifts are manufactured by Mitsubishi with the latest energy conserving technology. There’s also the option for a mobile phone key replacing plastic room cards.

The Londoner sits in the Excellent category with BREEAM,  the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for projects, infrastructure and buildings.

The hotel generates its own electricity onsite and has the most efficient boilers, chillers and fans. It was constructed using low environmental impact materials, down to a liquid film reducing evaporation from the indoor swimming pool.

The exterior of The Londoner, one of London's best hotels
The Londoner stands out from the crowd, both inside and out

The concept

The most astounding feature of the hotel is invisible. The incredible engineering feat in the epicentre of London was an audacious undertaking by family-owned Edwardian Hotels London group. The company owns 11 other hotels in London, but The Londoner is truly unique.

The iceberg (half sotto terra including the capital’s deepest inhabitable basement) of the hotel is brimming with quirky bars. There is a ballroom (used for a BAFTA event during my stay) and an Odeon cinema for hosting film premiers.

An entire subterranean floor is home to The Retreat spa complete with hairdresser, gentlemen’s barber and Refuel juice bar. It’s intended to be the world’s first super-boutique hotel, and they’ve succeeded with a one-stop, opulent oasis.

The details at The Londoner make one of the best hotels in London
Take some time to admire the carefully curated artworks and design details

First Impressions

The simple outside gives minimal hint to the glamour inside. The exterior’s blue faience tiles mirroring the clouds and sky are genius as the required public art component.

Entering the Lobby from bustling Leicester Square is akin to stepping into a creamy cappuccino; light chocolate velvet cushions and mirrored ceiling create the ambience of cozy opulence.

The far wall raised area, appropriately called The Stage hosts live music on weekends. The nearby Champagne Bar is the perfect perch for people watching. I don’t even make it to the discrete desk; rather a friendly receptionist swoops to undertake check in on a leather couch.

I’m offered a beverage which arrives on a gold trolley. It’s clear interior designers Yabu Pushelberg (of The Four Seasons in New York) has leaned into the theatreland surroundings. This could be a dramatic set design, and yes, guests feel like a headlining stars.

The Londoner lobby is not like your average London hotels
The lobby is replete with artworks

The room

The gargantuan Alice in Wonderland-esque crystal doorknob adds to the pervasive atmosphere of whimsy. So it’s surprising that what lies beyond is a light filled, practical layout with subtle pastels and serene pinks.

Entering the 52-square-metre Corner Suite, a retro-looking bluetooth radio is crooning tunes and loor-to-ceiling windows offer charming rooftop views.

The salmon pink chaise longue with operatic binoculars invites one for some Leicester Square reclining and viewing.

Confirming its credentials as a ’lifestyle hotel’, details orchestrating a holiday crescendo include Dyson hairdryer and jet wand cleaner.

There’s a hand-held clothes steamer and Miller Harris toiletries. The star of the show is a Toto Japanese toilet that does things you never knew a commode could do.

Those overindulging in the surrounding nightlife will appreciate the Nespresso coffee machine. The shower turns on with a simple press of a button and the handcrafted Vispring mattress is dressed with 400 thread count Irish linen.

The highlight? The views are beguiling and make you feel immersed in the city without leaving the room.

The Londoner corner room
The calming interior of the Corner Suite

Top Suite

Of the 350 rooms and 35 suites, The Tower Suite is surely one of the top spaces of any hotels in London. The duplex offers 200 square metres of next-level luxury, more statement apartment than suite.

It was built for entertaining with a Calcutta Tucci marble bar and endless windows showcasing the extraordinary London view. But it’s not just inside which stuns. It comes with exclusive use of a secret VIP entrance, chauffeur and car transfers.

Guests recieve silk Olivia von Halle pyjamas, an in-room mixologist session (and drinks trolley catered to your preferences) and a personal welcome from the General Manager.

You’ll also receive a personal itinerary of unique cultural experiences,  should you ever feel like leaving the rooms.

The tower penthouse suite at The Londoner
The ultra-luxe Tower Penthouse Suite boasts a stunning London panorama

On my plate

There are seven bars and restaurants inside. For the ultimate date night, head to the rooftop bar and izayaka, 8 at The Londoner.

It’s a small space and reservations are a must. Ask for one of the four tables closest to the glass wall. The view is a London postcard, spanning Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar, across to the Battersea Power Station chimneys.

At the other end of the restaurant is an open-air pavilion with fire pit distracting from the lack of view. Otherwise take a seat in buzzing Whitcomb’s on the lobby level. Don’t miss the baked eggs and spinach with lemon for a zesty morning starter.

By night Whitcomb’s morphs into destination dining with a chic French Mediterranean inspired menu. The vegan and vegetarian menus are outstanding.

The French beans with garlic, mint and burrata with Seville orange, coriander seeds and manuka honey burst with fresh produce.

While the Filet Mignon with chanterelle is tempting, the piping hot skillet of grilled lobster with Cognac, Dijon mustard, Gruyère and black truffles is a flavour transport to Antibes or Cannes.

Don’t forget to look up  the ceiling script is inspired by a screenwriter – another clever cultural London artistic inclusion.

Highlights from the mini-bar

It’s clear this is a hotel made for play, judging from the top shelf liquor and mixers. If not keen to tend bar, then pop a pre mixed cocktail by Avantgarde. Tea lovers will rejoice dipping a complimentary marmalade biscuit into a vast range of teas.

I wish I could take home…

The room umbrella. And you can the hand carved duck head handle carved umbrella is a hotel favourite and costs 90 pounds. In fact, you can buy almost the entire room from the pillows to the toiletries.

I’m on the fence about the Japanese Toto toilet. The options throw me, but I become attached to the sensor-activated lid popping up as if to enthusiastically say hello.

The Londoner's corner room bathroom
The Londoner stuns with stylish amenities

Spa Life

Do not miss The Retreat. I’m lucky on a Sunday morning as at 8am there’s a choice of banquets, divans and plush circular daybeds.

By 9am it starts to fill and guests call down to reserve booths, leading to some disappointed latecomers being cabana-less.

There’s a lap pool (32 degrees), a hydrotherapy pool (36 degrees), sauna complete with Panic Button and steam room. Massages and facials are available 8am – 8pm.

What really elevates this from a relaxing experience to decadent is the poolside service. Between sauna and swim I order a delicious salmon with paprika, kale and goat cheese toasted wrap.

The Retreat pool at The Londoner
Unwind at The Retreat's tranquil spa – just be sure to book your cabana in advance

Staying in

The Londoner specialises in secret spaces and is one of the most intriguing hotels in London. This really is a stylish fun park for adults with an abundance of nooks and crannies to explore.

But the pièce de résistance is The Residence. It’s like a Members Only London club, but is Guest Only, to the point where guests’ friends are not permitted. Exceptions are made for a friend to join a solo traveller.

Located in a loft above The Stage is a bar and lounge, a cocoon of relaxation with board games to play. At the marble Y-Bar, a sommelier can organise wine flights.

There are morning complimentary treats and midday antipasto. It feels more like the friend’s chic drawing room rather than a guest common area.

Not private enough? Beyond The Residence behind a closed (unlocked) door is the Whisky Bar.

Inside, there are walls of (locked) whisky in individual glass cabinets available for tasting. It’s a jewel box of a room with sumptuous green velvet banquette upon which to nurse a tipple.

When the staff offer a quick hotel tour as you check in – take it, it’s a labyrinth of surprises.

The secret whiskey bar
Discover The Londoner's secret whiskey bar

Stepping out

Location, location, location this is the ultimate walking base. Stroll to Soho and Covent Garden, to Buckingham Palace, or along the Thames to Big Ben and The London Eye.

The Piccadilly Line is only 230 metres from the cheerful doormen. There’s no need to travel far with Chinatown, the non-stop Leicester Square vibe and West End shows offering doorstep action.

Celebrity sightings

I would love to know who’s been sleeping in my bed. The staff remain tight lipped, but a simple google reveals a wide industry range from entertainment superstars to footballers.

Part of the appeal for the A-list is a backdoor entry to avoid paparazzi. I don’t have that issue and use the front door.

One morning I wake to see online that Dame Judie Dench was partying overnight at the BAFTA 2022 Gala Dinner. Who knows who you’ll find in the elevator?

Insiders’ tips

Keep your eyes peeled for the 400 artworks on display throughout, including pieces by Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Idris Khan. At night, The Residence’s wooden slat walls become an art gallery as hand painted murals roll down, transforming the space.

The Residence at The Londoner
By night, the walls at The Residence transform into a gallery

Room for improvement

International power sockets please for hotels expecting international guests (featured in most basic airport hotels). Newspapers or magazines in the Spa area to accompany the poolside breakfast would be the cherry on the cake.

And lastly, while the Wifi QR code on the back of the room key envelope is very 2022 for smart phones, connecting to a computer requires a phone call to concierge for a password. Which is more an indication of the clientele than of any design fault; people come here to play, not work.

Final verdict

Under a year since opening, this is still THE place to stay in London. With nothing rivaling it in the area for creativity and luxe, it’s a beguiling mix of intimacy, sexiness and calm.

Families are welcome (there are specific child-friendly pool times). Couples will find top tier excitement a twirl away outside, and romance inside.

As a solo traveller it’s one of the most convenient hotels in London. The hotel’s cache means my London friends come to meet me, instead of needing to repeatedly venture afield.

For anyone who finds London overwhelming and busy, staying here shrinks it to the size of a five-star bubble. All the quintessential London experiences are within walking distance, without ever getting in a cab, underground or bus. It’s London with all the pros, and none of the tiresome cons.

The Londoner is one of the most stylish hotels in London
Guests are spoilt for choice with seven sophisticated bars and restaurants

Where to find The Londoner

Could this be one of the easiest hotels in London to access from Heathrow? It’s one 40-minute train, direct from Heathrow on the Piccadilly to Leicester Square. Leaving from London City airport also proves straight forward.

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