Review: The Londoner Hotel Weds Boutique Intimacy With 5-Star Amenities in Soho
London's newest guesthouse bills itself as a "super boutique," which really just means you're getting the best of all worlds
The Londoner is a hotel more than a decade in the making. Finally opened in September 2021 in the heart of London’s posh Soho neighborhood, the property boasts 350 rooms and six food and beverage options. It bills itself as a “super boutique hotel,” which at first sounds like a bit of a marketing gimmick, but in practice actually kind of fits. It somehow feels intimate and cozy despite its rather outsize footprint.
Upon strolling up to the front entrance — supervised by two quintessentially British-looking doormen in purple pea coats with matching top hats — I was immediately struck by the understated grandeur of the lobby. High ceilings with metal and wooden construction overhead combine with gold trimmings and velour furniture below to imbue the place with the general sense that many important and notable people will at some point walk through these doors. The walls and floors are festooned with art and knickknackery but nothing is overly crowded, a portrait of tasteful modern luxury.
Check-in was completed from the comfort of an armchair while I sipped tea like a good British boy. The person checking me in laughed and said, “Let me tell you, we absolutely love your surname here,” to which I responded that I had never actually been to London. As I glanced around I was struck by how interesting all the guests looked. Not necessarily hot or cool or influential, just interesting. A wonderful amalgam of people from various walks of life who all seemed to fit together in this beautiful space.
Design Director Krishma Singh tells me that the lobby has “design nods to the theater district of the West End,” which makes sense given how many theaters are spitting distance from the hotel. She added that the “rippling curtains and bar in the lobby are meant to feel like the stage, and the tucked-away reception and concierge are meant to feel like backstage.”
Located in Leicester Square, the hotel is about as centrally located as it gets, with easy access to many of the other coveted neighborhoods in London. I did a lot of tube riding, and also walked to the landmarks anyone will want to see if it’s their first time in the city: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Hyde Park. The National Gallery is literally next door.
But aside from what there is to do outside of the hotel, there is just as much to do inside.
The Londoner offers eight different room classes (five suites, including the two-story Tower Penthouse, and three styles of king room). I stayed in a Capital Suite, which included a long dining table, comfy sofa and a well-appointed bar cart. I even had a second bathroom that overlooked a good portion of the city, including The Eye and The Palace of Westminster. I have a selfie with the view, but I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate to share in this piece. Snacks were left in the room by the staff frequently, and the plush, king-sized bed was positively Goldilocksian, with gentle linens and puffy pillows. I’ve taken to actually unpacking when staying somewhere for more than a few days — very mature — and the closets got the job done. One touch I found particularly charming was that they provided canned water, rather than bottled, since aluminum is infinitely (or very nearly) recyclable, whereas plastic is not.
The crown jewel of the room was the master bathroom featuring beautiful enameled his-and-hers sinks. A jacuzzi tub and a large walk-in shower provide varied bathing options and a state-of-the-art Toto heated toilet warms your buns as you do your business. I am not a very particular groomer, but even I found myself wanting to spend more time in the bathroom than I normally would.
While London’s culinary scene is diverse and endless and you should explore it while you’re in town, you will also not be bored with the dining options on site. In total there are six — very distinctive — places to eat and drink to your heart’s content within the confines of the hotel.
Whitcomb’s, a take on French Mediterranean cuisine, is the main restaurant on the property. It’s a low-key, upbeat eatery with a rather large menu. The snails are a must, even if, like me, you don’t like snails. They are so doused in butter and garlic that you won’t realize you’re eating a slimy land mollusk. For an entree I had the sole, which was crispy and flaky, and one of my favorite things I ate in London. You’ll also have breakfast here (included) and the spread is abundant and impressive.
On the roof is the Japanese Izakaya lounge, 8 at The Londoner, which gets its name because it is on the eighth and top floor of the hotel. The menu consists of decadent Japanese takes like Wagyu in a truffle ponzu sauce and lobster tempura. You’ll find a robust cocktail menu and abundant sake options as well. 8 at The Londoner has three different dining areas: a more traditional restaurant, a dark low-set lounge with a terrace featuring panoramic city views, and the open-air Shima Garden, which features a unique cocktail program and small bites under the London sky.
The Londoner also houses Joshua’s Tavern, a homey British pub with snacks, draught beers and 58 different kinds of Gin. They truly go wild on the G&T options, with innovative combinations that span a variety of flavor profiles. Hotel Director Charles Oak tells me the Tavern is the cheapest place to get a pint in all of Leicester Square, as they wanted to “Make the pub affordable for locals and guests as well. You can’t be a neighborhood destination if you’re pricing people out.” Two other venues include Refuel at the spa, where you can get juices and healthy snacks, and The Stage, located in the lobby area and offering a bar, snacks and a traditional robust afternoon tea menu. They also, as the name suggests, frequently have performers playing in the area.
Finally there is what is known as The Residence, a 24-hour, guests-only floor in the hotel. And when I say guest only I mean guest only: even if you are staying on-site, you can’t bring in a friend who isn’t also staying at the hotel. This floor is made up of three separate areas: a Y-shaped bar, lounge/dining area featuring plush furniture made to resemble a modern English living room, and a speakeasy-style whiskey room featuring more than 50 different rare and exotic bottles. In The Residence you’ll get complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks as well as drink and dining menus for purchase. The whiskey room is really the highlight here: it’s only a few tables and comes with a whiskey expert to walk you through whatever experience you want, whether it’s just advice on a tipple or a full flight-tasting experience. We did the latter and were quite schnockered by the end of things, if I do say.
The hotel’s spa features a large pool area made out of white marble that will have you thinking you’re in a high-end Turkish bathhouse. Lounge chairs and cabanas surround the pool, and soft UV light warms the space, making you forget you’re multiple stories underground. The spa itself has a robust menu of possible treatments all administered by very capable practitioners. There is also an onsite barber shop run by Joe Vipond and a hair salon run by Hiro Miyoshi, both well-known and awarded professionals in their fields.
Also, we must talk about the gym here. I am not one to work out on vacation. Mostly because I’m lazy and always looking for an excuse not to work out. I need to change that, obviously, and I was quite tempted to start that change during my stay at The Londoner (I still didn’t though, don’t worry). The gym features an absurd array of state-of-the-art machines, from Peloton to Technogym, and is also comically large for a fitness center, larger than some gyms I’ve been to in New York. There is also a private studio room for both classes and solo workouts when classes aren’t running. Personal trainers are also available to guests.
The Londoner is not a cheap stay. It is not overly expensive for the heart of London, though, either. Basic king rooms will run you somewhere in the range of $500 a night depending on exactly which day of week and time of year you stay. The suites are quite a bit more expensive than that. But if you’re coming to stay in Soho, you should know what to expect.
One of the other drawbacks (depending on what you like) is that you are right in the middle of Leicester Square, which is incredibly crowded and touristy. The immediate vicinity of the hotel is not the quaint, cobblestone London of Dickens and Austen. It is bustling and commercial. But again, it is super centrally located and there is plenty to see and do in walking distance.
The Londoner delivers a truly satisfying hospitality experience from the top down. It has all the bells and whistles you want when you’re really trying to treat yourself without any of the pretentious vibes you often get from high-end legacy brands. It embraces modernism in all the right places while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere without ever being too hip, nor too stuffy. The staff is thoughtful and attentive, the food is diverse and delicious, the drinks are abundant and made with skill, and the rooms are cozy and designed with care. If you’re willing to pay the price, The Londoner is worth every penny.
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