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London - Hotel advice

We are a family of four (children in their early 20's so adults) traveling to London and Edinburgh early June.

I have narrowed down hotel choices -- using points so that helped to narrow -- and I cannot decide which would be best to book. Looking for anyone who has advice on the following:

Trafalgar St James (a Hilton hotel)
Kimpton Fitzroy
St Ermins (a Marriott hotel)
The Kensington

Location important with ease of transportation/seeing sights -- but we also are looking for a hotel with character.

Thanks for any input!

Posted by
8872 posts

Haven’t stayed at any of those but rest assured by using The Tube you be able to enjoy the sites.

On a personal note staying in an American hotel chain means seeing and mingling with other Americans. Found that years ago when I stayed with a friend who insisted on using her points. Hilton Metropole. Boring cookie cutter place.

Thankfully I now stay with friends or at a Premier Inn when there.

Your own two feet help as well. London is a walkable city.

Posted by
11368 posts

I agree, drop the US chain hotels , Marriott, Kimpton and Hilton and stay at British hotels.
We loved stayed in the Kensington area but do not know the hotel The Kensington or if it is British owned.

Posted by
16897 posts

It would be hard to beat St. Ermin’s for character and history. It is definitely NOT your standard Marriott. It is part of the Autograph Collection, meaning it has its own identity, and history that goes back way before it affiliated with Marriott. And, like other Autograph Collection hotels, it is not owned by Marriott, just affiliated with them for booking and points purposes. According to the Wikipedia article below, it is privately owned by a wealthy Asian family, or by their business.

Read about St. Ermin’s history, including its role as the place where Churchill started the Special Operations Executive spy unit in 1940 (later moved to Baker Street):

https://www.historichotels.org/hotels-resorts/st-ermins-hotel/history.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Ermin%27s_Hotel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Operations_Executive ( see the section under “Origins”.

We stayed here for 3 nights on one of our many visit to London, and loved it. The hotel is charming. Our room was on the 3d floor, and we passed the window onto the rooftop bee garden as we walked the hallway to and from our room.

https://www.sterminshotel.co.uk/about/bees-kitchen-garden

The location, between Westminster Abbey and St. James Park, is ideal for walkers, and also convenient to 2 tube stops, Westminster and St. James. There is also a stop nearby for several useful bus routes, the 11, 24, and 148. We prefer the bus to the tube; it may be slower but at least it is above ground, and you can sit upstairs and enjoy the view.

https://content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-route-maps/key-bus-routes-in-central-london.pdf

It is also convenient for riding the Uber Thames boats as Westminster Pier is nearby.

The one drawback is there are very few pubs and restaurants in the immediate vicinity, other than the in-house Caxton Bar and Grill ( apparently Churchill enjoyed a drink or two at this bar, so more history there.). Fuller’s Pub, in the Sanctuary House Hotel on Tothill St. is an option for a pub. But mainly you will be going elsewhere for your dinner. There are lots of options in the “casual”:category just across the river—-take the Golden Jubilee pedestrian bridge, attached to the Hungerford Railway bridge, and turn left when you reach the other side. Or cross through St. James Park and wander up towards Soho and the West End area.

Posted by
365 posts

While I’ve not had the pleasure of the London location, Kimpton is a charming chain and I’ve enjoyed every night I’ve spent at every one I’ve visited. They’re always my first choice when available.

Totally understand working from points use, and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
1855 posts

I’ve stayed at the Trafalgar St James. I like the location because I end up dining in nearby Soho and going to nearby theater.s. It’s close to Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Embankment tube stations and a number of different bus lines. Rooms are fine but nothing special. Definitely low on the local charm scale. I don’t really care if the other guests are Americans or Europeans but based on who I see and hear in the breakfast restaurant there are many locals and some Europeans. Pre Covid and brexit the staff seemed to be mostly Europeans with a smattering of British.

Posted by
1179 posts

You’ll meet a range of people at any London hotel. I don’t think it’s relevant of the chains are owned by American companies. I haven’t stayed at any of those hotels but for location I would 100% choose the Trafalgar St James. So many things within a very short walk, 100s of restaurants and Theatreland on your doorstep.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks so much. The other hotel that we are considering is Clermont Charing Cross. Not sure if anyone has opinion on that hotel. Feel free to suggest any others - I've looked at many of them already as trying to use points.

Posted by
16897 posts

Another fun fact about St. Ermin’s, from the Wikipedia article—-in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a popular venue for celebrity weddings. Roger Moore, Peter Sellers, Diana Dors (the original “blond bombshell”) and Elizabeth Taylor all took their vows there —- “some more than once”.

Who but Elizabeth Taylor would get married in the same place twice?