Sunday, 26 September 2010

Public opinion helps decide London’s top 10 boutique hotels

By Benedita Rodriguez

Travelling in and out of London being an occupational hazard, I’m oft faced with the dilemma of choosing the right digs to swish in and out with maximum comfort and minimum hassle. How else can one get rid of the interminable exhaustion that starts in the air and continues on the ground with tiresome commutes? Having to make it from one appointment to the next, what more do you need at the end of the day than to kick those pumps off and curl the tension off your toes on lush rugs. So, the all-important question that swoops in: What’s best for Aunty Travelbags!

If you’re in London for three days and more, my experience says boutique hotels are the way to go. But, ah, what should be your choice? Here’s when you dive into your laptop, browse and surf to find something that fits into your whole idea of comfort with, maybe, a little added oomph. Sometimes you get lucky, and many a times, not!

I came across this interesting article I read some time ago, written by Laura Porter of, citing top ten luxury boutique hotels in London, eight of which I’d tried and tested (I would not have added a couple of them), but Laura’s piece inspired me to get a head start on my own top 10 list.

I know what I look for in a hotel, and I’m the plain vanilla sort (with maybe an exotic berry or two at times), I assume most urbanites are like me – need just the right bit of everything – classy comfort, quality furnishings, nice restaurant, place to chill, have an afternoon cuppa, work out the tension at the gym or languish in a Jacuzzi, to round up the day with a sumptuous meal and fine wine.

Personal taste and views notwithstanding, there is absolutely no question about the fact that the best pulse one can gain on any product quality is from people. In fact it is public opinion – actual consumers and utilizers of services – that becomes the key driving force in development and setting up of industry standards. To make my research as fair and accurate as possible, it was focused on gathering data from the most reliable internet public forums where rules and regulations, verification and authenticity checks are so stringent that posting is enabled only if verification confirms the writer’s legitimacy – if he has booked through the site, and actually stayed at the hotel. It was important for me to determine my sites of reference given posters’ frivolity and exaggeration that unfortunately comes with the territory.

With public opinion as the main ingredient of my work, the entire exercise was developed on a very simple formula:

1.Establish criteria first: In this case, hotels comprising of between 40-90 rooms.
2.Select hotels already appearing in the top ten and add on from your own bouquet (like Covent Garden Hotel, Rafayel on the Left Bank, Milestone);
3.Make quick comparisons of basic and deluxe amenities with perhaps a little “something extra” (like free WiFi, car park, zero service charges, or in-house gym and spa facilities, etc.);
4.Pick the most reliable public sites, in this case I selected, and ;
5. Check the number of reviews posted by people, in the x number of months since hotel appeared on the booking site;
6.Attribute scores to guest review: Excellent (between 8-10 marks): 15 points; Very Good (between 6-7.9 marks): 10 points; Average (between 4-5.9 marks): 0 points; Poor (Between 2-3.9 marks): -10 points; and Terrible (Below 2): -15.

Even if I say so myself, my research yielded such interesting results! I got to learn more about London hotels and the hottest trends, what’s in and what’s out, in a remarkably short span of dedicated quality time! Here’s the rank card:

Scores have been calculated by attributing points to each guest review on, and up until 12 August 2010. For example, Hotel Rafayel has been operational and appearing on TripAdvisor for the last 7 months. Total guest reviews in 7 months number 140, of which 90 rank it “Excellent”(so, x15); 22 “Very Good (x10); 26 “Average” (x0); 2 “Poor” (x-10). Scores from the 3 sites give Rafayel a total score of 4655.

Hotel Rafayel

Rafayel room with a view
#1 Hotel Rafayel on the Left Bank
34 Lombard Road
London SW11 3RF, United Kingdom
020 7801 3600

Number of rooms: 65
Rafayel boasts 65 designer “smart” rooms, champagne bar and riverside restaurant, brasserie, bakery, florist, penthouse and conference facilities, exhibition spaces as well as the latest River Wellbeing Spa treatments and gym. Rafayel is one of the world’s most advanced luxury green hotels and proves that hotels can dramatically reduce their carbon emission output without compromising on five-star luxury, quality or comfort. Located on the River Thames at the heart of London’s most dynamic riverside development, with sweeping views across to Chelsea Harbour, Rafayel is minutes from the shopping areas of Sloane Square and Knightsbridge and is close to Victoria Station and London’s major attractions.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Parking, Pets Allowed, Restaurant, Room Service, Swimming Pool

Read Reviews on Rafayel

#2 Threadneedles Hotel
The Threadneedles
5 Threadneedle Street
London EC2R 8AY, United Kingdom
020 7657 8080

Number of rooms: 69
Small, Victorian-style Boutique Hotel located in the heart of the financial district.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant

Read Reviews on Threadneedles

#3 The Soho Hotel
The Soho Hotel
4 Richmond Mews
London W1D 3DH, England

Number of rooms: 91
The Soho Hotel has 91 individually designed bedrooms, suites and apartments and is situated in a quiet street in the heart of London’s entertainment neighbourhood. It is surrounded by some of London’s best restaurants and bars, vibrant cafes and most exciting theatre and nightlife.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Restaurant

Read Reviews on The Soho Hotel

#4 The Milestone Hotel
The Milestone Hotel
1 Kensington Court
London W8 5DL, United Kingdom
020 7917 1000

Number of rooms: 63
Elegant Hotel housed within a meticulously restored Grand Victorian Mansion dating from 1882.
Property Amenities: Business Center ,Fitness Center ,Free High-Speed Internet, Pets Allowed, Restaurant ,Room Service, Swimming Pool

Read Reviews on The Milestone Hotel

#5 Covent Garden Hotel
10 Monmouth Street
Covent Garden Hotel
London WC2H 9HB, United Kingdom
020 7806 1000

Number of rooms: 58
Covent Garden Hotel is situated in the heart of the theatre district and is just a short walk to the Royal Opera House, Soho and within easy reach of the city’s business centre. It is surrounded by some of London’s best restaurants and bars, vibrant cafes and most exciting theatre, nightlife and shopping.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Restaurant

Read Reviews on Covent Garden

#6 The Gore
The Gore
190 Queen’s Gate
Kensington, London SW7 5EX, United Kingdom
020 7584 6601

Number of rooms: 54
The Gore Hotel is located in the central location of South Kensington, just west of the very centre of London. An upmarket and smart area of London and just behind the Royal Albert Hall (famous music and events venue). Also a very short walk (100 yards) from Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Close by is the fashionable and popular shopping area of Kensington High Street and a little further on finds Knightsbridge (home the world famous Harrods department store). The hotel is actually made up of two nineteenth century mansions. Today it’s a stylish Victorian hotel with modern amenities and facilities.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on The Gore

Baglioni Hotel
#7 Baglioni Hotel
60 Hyde Park Gate – Kensington
London, SW7 5BB, United Kingdom
020 7368 5700

Number of rooms: 66
The Baglioni London is situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, close to the Royal Albert Hall and Harrods, with stunning views of Kensington Palace and Gardens. As part of the Leading Small Hotels of the World the Baglioni provides a 5 star deluxe environment, with unique Italian style and design. The hotel has 67 rooms & suites, with traditional English Butler service, a Baglioni Spa with gym, and our Brunello Restaurant.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on Baglioni

The Halkin
#8 The Halkin
5 Halkin Street
Belgravia, London SW1X 7DJ, England
+44 20 7333 1000

Number of rooms: 41
The Halkin is a haven in the heart of London’s exclusive Belgravia. This intimate 41 room hotel is a discreet, chic, insider’s address with some of the best suites in town, as well as a Michelin-starred restaurant, Nahm, by Australian chef David Thompson. Expect exquisite attention to detail. Interiors feature crisp yet cosseting wools, silks and linens in cool taupes and creams as well as some of the largest bathrooms in London.
Property Amenities: Business Center ,Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service

Read reviews on The Halkin

Charlotte Street Hotel
#9 Charlotte Street Hotel
15-17 Charlotte Street
London W1T 1RJ, United Kingdom
020 7806 2000

Number of rooms: 52
Charlotte Street Hotel is situated in the media neighbourhood just north of Soho. It is a minute’s walk from leafy Soho Square and the theatre district, within easy reach of the financial centre and is surrounded by some of London’s best bars, restaurants and cafes. Designer Kit Kemp has used a ‘Bloomsbury Group’ theme throughout the hotel which features original art from the period and a mural in the brasserie reflecting scenes of ‘contemporary London life’.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on Charlotte Street Hotel

The Hempel
#10 The Hempel Hotel
31 Craven Hill Gardens
Bayswater, United Kingdom W2 3EA, United Kingdom
020 7298 9000

Number of rooms: 50
The Hempel is a 5 star luxury boutique hotel in West London. The Hempel is located North of Hyde Park and just 5 minute walk to Paddington Station. The Hempel Luxury Hotel rooms are all individually designed with luxury products including bathrobes, slippers, candles and Wi-Fi ability. Room types range from Superior and Deluxe through to Junior and Superior Suite that come with a seating area allowing more space to relax and enjoy the 5 star designer surroundings.
Property Amenities: Business Center, Fitness Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service

Read Reviews on The Hempel

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