Off the Beaten Path with London Hotels in Three Easy Steps

Away from the chains and the big names, there are hidden London hotel gyms across the great city.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

There are few travel markets in the world with a more competitive hotel scene than London. And, a few big names can dominate that scene.

According to London & Partners, the city holds more than 148,500 hotel rooms from 1,598 hotels currently. That might seem like an impossible onion to peel. Fortunately, the savvy traveler doesn’t have to choose between just the mega-names like The Ritz, The Savoy and The Langham or the matchbox, chain-run joints that line the streets near the likes of Paddington Station.

To get a flavor of London hotel variety, this reporter stayed in three very different joints in three consecutive nights — packing up and moving to new digs across the city every night for 72 hours. The three properties on the rapid fire menu found a home in this experiment by…1) remaining a little of the beaten path…and 2) differing from each other significantly.

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Rising high above the working class neighborhood on the far west side of London, Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush (top) fills a building that was formerly a theater. Now, it holds four classes of rooms and suites while serving as an attractive spot for business travelers due to its relative prolixity to Heathrow. The Dorsett is also a short walk from the Circle, District, and Central Lines and the total freedom of The London Underground.

Visitors should also take the five minute walk to Television Centre and the former Shepherd’s Bush location of the BBC. Now in the process of transforming into residences, shops and entertainment venues, it’s a fun historical jaunt to visit the home classic TV shows from Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers to Top of the Pops and Doctor Who.

We take a moment to honor service that went above and beyond the call of duty. While preparing to check out of the Dorsett, I had a soak in my suite’s ample bathtub to loosen up some of the kinks and strains of modern air travel. Unfortunately, I slipped stepping out of that bath (…my fault…) and laid open my elbow fairly deeply on impact. From the spa employees to the front desk to security, everyone who helped me patch myself that morning was on the rails. The crew at Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush know their jobs very well and keep to them with pride.

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In Central London, the area around Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and Queensway Road tends to be an absolute tourist mecca — even for a city so internationally popular with tourists. Understandably, the region is full of hotels of various sizes alongside chain restaurants and small shops.

There’s a boutique hidden gem tucked away in this Bayswater neighborhood — a quiet, intimate sanctuary offering everything a traveler needs — including escape from the realities of being a traveler. La Suite West nestles in alongside Hyde Park and Kensington proper, two minutes walk from The Tube and an easily accessible corner for taxis.

The design by Anouska Hempel features a subtle and modern Asian influence throughout its Zen-inspired confines. While London’s streets beckon with endless sights and experiences, when it comes time to wind down there’s no better hotel in London to escape the noise and haste.

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In the upscale, Belgravia-adjacent neighborhood of Pimlico, The Orange Public House and Hotel is one of the more unique traveler lodgings in the city. With only four intimate, comfortable rooms hidden upstairs above a friendly bar and restaurant, The Orange resides in a region of London that is an attraction in and of itself. Filled with small, elite art galleries, shops and intimate restaurants, Pimlico offers elite life experience if you have money and prime people watching if you don’t.

The young crew of The Orange busies itself around the clock with the bar and restaurant downstairs, but the rooms are kept immaculate. Once you’re tucked into one of the four guest rooms, you’re left in peace to use it as a base of operations while you explore the neighborhood.

The restaurant feeds the professional class by day and the younger educated locals by night. The bar offers everything from the basic pints to high-end mixology, and the menu look to take standard pub food a little more uptown. When you put the entire concept together, a stay in The Orange offers the closest possible experience a traveler could tackle to feel what it’d be like to live a Bohemian life in Pimlico.