When you become a Tablet Plus member, you gain exclusive access to a selection of the world’s finest hotels, each one committed to providing you with seamless, VIP-level hospitality. Fab Five is a series of collections dedicated to celebrating these truly exceptional properties.
Tea time isn’t just tea in London. Forget brunch’s awkward cousin “linner” — afternoon tea is the post-lunch, pre-dinner luxury experience that’s synonymous with elegance, opulence, and, let’s be honest here, cake. At some of our favorite hotels in London, afternoon tea means menus packed with gourmet sandwiches, inventive guilty-pleasure cupcakes, and the finest imported teas from around the world. Not to mention that even in London, the hotel world’s majorest of major leagues, the five accommodations below are some of the finest in the city. And all Tablet Plus.
The Ampersand Hotel
The Ampersand, a whimsical South Kensington hotel with a name to match, is so unabashedly, eccentrically British that it would risk self-parody if it weren’t so dashingly pulled together. Housed in an 1888 townhouse, the hotel takes the Victorian taste for eclecticism — curiosities and objets d’art abound — and gives it a thoroughly modern look. It’s a fitting style for a neighborhood whose shops run from indie boutiques to Stella McCartney to Harrods, and whose cultural institutions contain everything from the classic collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum to the irreverent pop-culture photography of the Proud Gallery.
The Beaumont Hotel
Restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have no shortage of expertise in creating spaces that are quintessentially, nostalgically London — the Ivy, the Wolseley, the Delaunay. But for their first hotel venture, they’ve taken their inspiration from across the Atlantic, patterning the Beaumont after a fictional Roaring Twenties New York member’s club of their own invention. It’s in Mayfair, between Grosvenor Square and Selfridges, and despite its American accent, it’s about as Mayfair as a 21st-century hotel can get, right down to the brash, slightly puzzling piece of quasi-public art that adorns its Twenties Art Deco façade.
Dorset Square Hotel
Longtime Kemp-watchers — there must be more than a few of you out there — might remember that the Dorset Square Hotel was Tim and Kit’s first venture, a sort of rough draft for their extremely successful Firmdale Hotels brand. It was eventually sold off, but not forgotten — now a decade and a half later it’s back in the Firmdale fold, and there’s nothing at all rough about it.
Number Sixteen is either the coziest boutique hotel in London, or the most luxurious bed and breakfast — we’re still not sure. The location, down a sleepy side street in South Kensington, is fairly well hidden; just a row of nineteenth-century Victorian townhouses without so much as a sign to show the way. As a member of Firmdale’s Townhouse Collection, it’s a more low-key experience than the bigger, more lively Ham Yard or Soho Hotel — Number Sixteen is notable for its intimate scale and its quiet charm.
The Knightsbridge Hotel is the perfect modestly priced entrée into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world. In fact the Knightsbridge is the ideal shopper’s hotel, a sort of junior version of its sisters, Covent Garden and Charlotte Street, with a correspondingly lower nightly rate, leaving plenty of room on the credit cards for expeditions to Harrods and Harvey Nichols, as well as the shops of Sloane Street and Brompton Cross.
See all of our hotels in London.