13 Things You Might Not Know About London's Hotels

By Zoe Craig Last edited 9 months ago
13 Things You Might Not Know About London's Hotels

Biggest, tallest, oldest, ugliest — here are some of our favourite London hotel facts.

1. London's biggest hotels

The three-star 1,630 bedroom Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury is the largest hotel in London (and indeed, in the whole of the UK) by number of rooms.

The Royal National Hotel. Photo by Fitzrie B.

The Hilton London Metropole Hotel in Paddington is the largest four-star hotel in London and the UK. It has 1,058 bedrooms.

London's five-star hotels are quite small by international standards: the largest in London is the Grosvenor House Hotel, which has just 494 rooms.

2. And the smallest?

We've covered this before. We think it might be 40 Winks on Mile End Road.

3. London's tallest hotel

The London Hilton on Park Lane is London's tallest hotel. It's 101 metres (331 ft) tall, has 28 storeys and 453 rooms.

The Park Lane Hilton. Photo by our own Matt Brown.

Michelin-starred restaurant Galvin at Windows is on the top floor of the hotel — the views as tasty as the food.

4. London's highest hotel (this is indeed different)

The views at the Park Lane Hilton are beaten by London's highest hotel, the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard.

The Shangri-La Hotel occupies the 34th to the 52nd floors of Renzo Piano's skyscraper.

5. London's Grade I listed hotels

London has two Grade I listed hotels: the French chateau-modelled, five-star Royal Horseguards Hotel in Whitehall; and the St Pancras Renaissance London. Royal Horseguards Hotel was once home/office for MI6 chief Sir Mansfield Cumming (the inspiration for 'M' from James Bond).

The Royal Horseguards Hotel is located inside the Grade I listed Whitehall Court.

6. London's floating hotel

What do you mean you didn't know there was a hotel floating on the Thames? Sunborn London is a hotel on board a super yacht, with 136 rooms, a restaurant and a bar, and well, rather limited parking options...

7. London's ugliest hotel

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. But we think the Guoman Tower Hotel near Tower Bridge is the ugliest hotel in London.

Guoman Hotel from Tower Bridge. Photo by Londonista Matt Brown.

It's twice been voted the second ugliest building in London, in 2005 and 2006. (It was beaten by the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and Colliers Wood tower respectively.)

They couldn't have picked a more prominent location to dump it.

8. The one with the ghosts

Ghost hunters should head to the Langham, London's 'most haunted hotel'.

Believers should look out for a gentleman in Victorian evening wear who haunts room 333 during October; or the ghost of a German prince who jumped out of a window before the first world war; or the spirit of Emperor Napoleon III, who hangs out in the basement.

The Langham Hotel.

As recently as 2014, big burly England cricketers — surely not the most superstitious of blokes — were completely spooked by odd goings on at the hotel.

9. And the one with the vampire hunter

The Andaz London Liverpool Street, then called the Great Eastern Hotel, is where vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing stays during his first visit to London in Bram Stoker's Gothic horror story Dracula.

10. London's hotels converted from courthouses

London boasts not one, but two hotels that used to be courthouses — Clink78 and the Courthouse Hotel.

In its days as the Marlborough Street Magistrates Court, there were many (in)famous trials on the site involving figures such as John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, Johnny Rotten, Christine Keeler, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The five-star Courthouse Hotel has retained some of its original features: The Bar's private booths are actually inside three of the original prison cells. You've not lived until you've had a martini perched on a prisoner's loo seat.

Clink 78

At the Clink78 youth hostel, where punk rockers The Clash once stood trial, guests can stay in former prison cells.

11. Inspirational London hotels

London's hotels have inspired a whole host of literary types.

It's said that Rudyard Kipling wrote his Jungle Book stories at Brown's. And that Agatha Christie was inspired to write At Bertrams Hotel at the same address. (Or maybe it was at Flemings Mayfair?)

Then there's the Langham, where the editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine simultaneously commissioned both Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde to write stories for the publication. The results were The Sign of Four (published in February 1890) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (published in July of the same year).

12. The one with the hidden temples

The Andaz Liverpool Street has not one, but two masonic temples hidden within its red brick exterior.

Andaz Liverpool Street, formerly the Great Eastern Hotel.

There's an Egyptian temple in the basement and a Grecian temple on the first floor. The former has traditional seating around a black-and-white chequered marble floor, said to be worth about £3m.

The latter was fitted out in 1912, and features an organ, beefy doors enhanced by doric and ionic columns, and another black-and-white marble sunken floor, surrounded by masonic insignia and throne-like seating.

13. The one with the classic music video

So, it's not strictly inside a London hotel, but we're claiming it anyway: the video to Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues — the one with the much-copied cue cards and poet Allen Ginsberg hanging out in the background — was filmed in the alleyway behind The Savoy.

A still from the video superimposed over Google Street view, by popspotsnyc.com.

Want to go and find the exact spot for yourself? Popspotnyc.com have a detailed article to help with that.

Below is the original Subterranean Homesick Blues video with modern commentary by the director D A Pennebaker and Bob Neuwirth.

Last Updated 16 December 2016