Hotel Review: the Londoner is an urban retreat in a bustling city

Hotel Review: the Londoner is an urban retreat in a bustling city

London’s first iceberg hotel, the Londoner, is an urban sanctuary amid the chaos of Leicester Square.

A relatively fresh face on the London hotel scene, this hidden gem is fast becoming an icon for its unique eight floors up eight floors down structure and a style so unique it embodies its own category; the super boutique.

No, that’s not an oxymoron, and yes, I was sceptical too at first.

Let me explain – the Londoner houses 350 rooms and suites plus an array of dining options while still embodying the look and feel of a boutique hotel; carefully curated art adorns the walls, the service maintains personal touches and everything is just… cosy.

An eclectic display at reception

The location 

The hotel sits on the southwest corner of Leicester Square, bordered by London’s iconic Soho and Covent Garden neighbourhoods.

The closest tube stop is Leicester Square, which is less than a five-minute walk away, but you don’t need to travel far to find fantastic dining and drinking options with Soho’s buzzing bars and boutique eateries within walking distance, right next to China Town.

Entertainment is also right around the corner – you’re in the West End, after all! London’s grandest theatres are all a stone’s throw away, and if it’s art you’re after, the National Gallery is right next door.

The stay

Upon entry, you’re instantly greeted by at least two doormen and usually two or three reception staff before you even hit the lobby, which is more akin to a buzzing cafe (or bar, depending on the time of day) than your run of the mill hotel reception.

Check-in was smooth and I was served a cup of tea while we went through the details, followed by a quick tour on the way to my room to give me the lay of the land.

The rooms are spacious and design-led without losing sight of small comforts

The design elements throughout the Londoner’s public spaces are eclectic yet perfectly curated; every detail gives you the impression of a carefully chosen, thoughtful approach from the artworks to the light fittings.

The room itself – a Deluxe King City View room – was spacious and design-led without losing sight of small comforts, with elegant soft furnishings including a very cute powder pink chaise lounge to perch on while you take in the view.

Tiny binoculars in each room are among the many personal touches

And what a view! Floor-to-ceiling windows provide excellent viewing of London’s skylines, with Nelson’s Column, the London Eye and the National Gallery all visible from my room. The best part – the windows can be opened to let in fresh air; a luxury all too rare in most city hotels.

Personal touches are also in abundance. My room had a Bluetooth speaker, a Nespresso pod coffee machine, East India Company teas (and delicious marmalade biscuits!), premixed Avantgarde cocktails in the minibar, a smart TV with Chromecast, USB ports next to the bed (so you don’t have to mess around with powerpoint converters to charge your phone) and the most adorable handcrafted umbrella with a ducks head on the handle to help brave drizzly London days.

A delightful hand crafted umbrella for braving drizzly days

Not to mention deliciously scented bathroom amenities by Miller Harris and a Japanese Toto toilet complete with a heated seat.

The F&B

Breakfast is served at The Stage (the buzzy cafe-meets-bar situation you encounter upon entry), where you can also enjoy afternoon tea, an aperitif and the occasional live performance from local musicians.

You can also take your breakfast in-room for an additional £3 and enjoy a separate menu that includes a curated approach to the full English breakfast and a French breakfast akin to that of an upmarket Parisian hotel as well as a la carte options.


The main restaurant – Whitcomb’s – is delightfully British in design, but French Mediterranean in palate with simple yet elegant dishes prepared using carefully selected ingredients. Here, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner that pays homage to French cooking with a wine list to die for.

8 at the Londoner’s Shirma Garden

8 at The Londoner, the hotel’s rooftop bar, is izakaya-style serving small plates of delicious Japanese fusion and botanical cocktails to match. The views are spectacular, and the bar also has a terrace area and a stunning Shirma Garden.

Also on offer is Joshua’s Tavern, an homage to Sir Joshua Reynolds, 18th-century portrait artist and former Leicester Square resident. Here you can sample terroir-led gins, a selection of perfectly crafted Gintonicas, a refreshing draught beer selection, and a contemporary bill of fare with tavern tid-bits.

The spa 

Here’s where we get to the eight floors down part. Half of the hotel is actually located underground; a claustrophobic prospect for me at first, but something rarely discernible to guests – especially given the underground portion houses the hotel’s delightful wellness offering.

The most delightful subterranean pool

The spa is a tranquil retreat complete with a swimming pool, hydropool, sauna, steam room and secluded cabanas. The treatment selection is packed with luxury brands and led by experts with facials by Omorovicza, massages by Ila, body treatments by Ishga and men’s treatments by Gentlemen’s Tonic.

Here, you’ll also find a nail salon, hair salon, men’s grooming centre and a well-kitted-out gym.

Good to know 

What’s particularly special about the Londoner is the Residence.

Your room key also gives you access to three impeccably designed guest-only spaces including the Y Bar, the Drawing Room and The Whiskey Room where you can enjoy complimentary antipasti, soft drinks, tea and coffee throughout the day and night, plus a full bar service and a dining menu available at a charge.

The Residence

You’ll also find a library of handcrafted Assouline books, classic board games and the latest newspapers and lifestyle magazines.

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