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Bucket List / Budget List: London

From historic hotels to hipster hangouts, we have the best places to stay in London, whatever your budget.

Best for Luxury

London takes the traditional British afternoon tea to new heights; restaurants and hotels citywide compete for the most sophisticated version. Sketch is hard to beat, though. At this 18th century townhouse, all the traditional elements are in place – tiny, jewel-like cakes, light-as-air sandwiches and, of course, myriad varieties of tea – but the all-pink dining room feels like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Throw in David Shrigley artworks, costumed waiters and some seriously modern cuisine and you have an afternoon tea for the 21st century. (Oh, and you have to check out the famed toilets – they look like huge alien pods and have been called London’s best.)

Move seamlessly from elegant afternoon to glamorous evening by checking into one of London’s luxury hotels.

The Ned – for classic grandeur

It may have only opened in 2016, but The Ned already feels like a London institution. From the heated roof-top pool to the deposit-box-lined bar in the old vault, this converted 1920s bank is every inch the grand old English hotel. Nine restaurants mean you can eat at a different place every day of the week – our current fave is a full English breakfast on the terrace, with views out over St Paul’s Cathedral for dessert. And with a gorgeous, Art Deco-style spa, you can holiday at The Ned without ever leaving the hotel.

Cheval Three Quays – for landmark views

Nowhere quite sums up London’s mix of traditional and trendy like the Cheval Three Quays. As you lounge on your high-tech apartment’s balcony, sipping fresh coffee from your personal machine, you can look out along the Thames through Tower Bridge and across to City Hall. There’s more history on your doorstep, too – no hotel is closer to the 900-year-old Tower of London than this one and, with a river bus stop just yards from your front door, there’s a whole new way to explore the city. Then it’s back home for cocktails overlooking the lights of the Shard or dinner from your own, fully stocked kitchen.

Rosewood London – for old world elegance

Fronted by towering gates leading into a courtyard, where capped bellmen whisk your bags inside a glorious Edwardian mansion, Rosewood London feels more Downton Abbey than downtown London. Inside, it’s similarly grand. There are roaring fires, tempting wood-panelled bars and the discreet hum of butlers doing their thing. Topped off with a solid marble staircase leading to an ornate cupola that wouldn’t look out of place in a palace, the Rosewood is pure indulgence.

Best for Budget

London is the luxury shopping capital of the world, so why would we send you to a pile of shipping containers to satisfy your retail itch? Because Boxpark is the world’s first pop-up mall. This oasis of hip European designers, spicy street food and funky events, all housed in converted shipping containers, is just minutes from Brick Lane Market. A constantly evolving set of vendors, coupled with the area’s hipster vibe, means you can catch the latest fashion, food and parties the capital has to offer in one easy walk.

Ready for a lie-down? Escape the bustle at one of these wallet-friendly hotels.

Good Hotel London – for modern minimalism

When it comes to the most innovative – and Instagrammable – places to stay in London, Good Hotel is up there. Moored just minutes from the O2 Arena and the ExCeL exhibition centre in Royal Victoria Dock, this floating, low-rise platform, topped with an expansive grassy terrace, offers guests panoramic city views and a sociable buzz. The hotel is a picture of modern hospitality with eco credentials to boot. Rooms are clean-lined and fitted out with contemporary design classics and recycled materials. The restaurant serves a winning mix of comfort food and locally sourced dishes, and the roof terrace is packed nightly with guests enjoying the vista and the vibe.

The Culpeper – for east London character

Where to go on your first night in London? A traditional pub? A modern English restaurant? A cocktail bar in a roof garden? Stay at The Culpeper and you can enjoy all of these options in one beautiful building. At first glance, it could be your classic London tavern – all horseshoe bar and craft beers – but a closer look reveals it’s been renovated into a genuinely cosy hotel. The first-floor restaurant features cutting-edge British cuisine using organic produce. The second floor is home to five comfy rooms with polished plaster walls and mid-century design classics for that full-on Shoreditch vibe. Throw in a roof garden where staff will barbecue your dinner right in front of you and you have all the ingredients for a great hotel with all the charm of a London local.

The Nadler Kensington - for smart simplicity

In Kensington, Hyde Park is your garden, the Royal Albert Hall and Harrods are just down the road – for a modest budget when you check into The Nadler. The rooms in this apartment-style hotel are simple, but not basic, with neat kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. But you won’t be spending too much time here – not with Museum Mile a stone’s throw away and the best of royal London just around the corner.