Lights, camera, London – the new Leicester Square hotel rolls out the red carpet with its star-quality rooms and restaurants.
When you ask travellers what they want from a holiday, many desire to live like a local. So, for those who see “tourist” as a dirty word, there’s a new hotel embracing the local scene: The Londoner.
The Londoner, which took £500 million and six years to build, opened in autumn 2021 and is located in the heart of Leicester Square, England. Let’s be honest – no Londoner actually lives here, as it’s heaving with visitors and is far beyond the average person’s budget. However, should you want to see the major sights, it doesn’t get better. The venue is a short walk from the famous lights of Piccadilly Circus, Regent’s Streets luxury shops, West End shows and The Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace.
Best of all, you may rub shoulders with celebrities. Leicester Square is famous for luxury cinemas and red-carpet film premieres. On our visit, the ODEON across the street hosted the world premiere of Rings of Power, a series inspired by The Lord of the Rings, and the square was transformed into Middle Earth. Plus, the event was attended by Jeff Bezos, Minnie Driver, Kaya Scodelario and Lenny Henry.
The Londoner’s rooms
When you arrive at The Londoner, you’ll get a very British welcome with the doormen in top hats and the Union Jack flag flying high. The elegantly-designed lobby could easily have been adorned with classic film posters, but that’s all a little obvious. Instead, there are framed images of film stars – think Tilda Swinton in a Vogue-like shoot.
The Londoner describes itself as “the world’s first super boutique hotel”, as it has managed to retain a charm despite its grand scale – there are 350 rooms, to be precise. Larger suites come with kitchenettes and dining tables, and the Tower Penthouse Suite spans two floors. While a stay isn’t cheap, as rooms start from £512 and suites start from £985, you are made to feel like a VIP.
We checked into a Junior Suite, which gives you that home away from home feel, thanks to the little luxurious touches: fluffy slippers, a giant crystal knob on the main door, a Dyson hairdryer and Steamery clothes steamer. Plus, as no Londoner would leave the house without one, an umbrella – it even had a Mary Poppins-like duck-handle.
The Yabu Pushelberg designed suite includes a king-sized bed, modest desk, Japanese-style toilet, and a big bathtub as well as shower. Plus, the coloured chaise lounge gives you a front-row view of The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Coliseum – hello, London. If you want to zoom in, the room comes with gold-rimmed binoculars, which wouldn’t be out of place at the opera.
There’s a new-school Hollywood vibe to it all, as the bathroom has a modern take on lightbulbs around the dressing room mirror and there are yoga mats on request – you know, for your celebrity-inspired workout.
The Londoner’s restaurants and bars
Given The Londoner’s Leicester Square location and the proximity to a dizzying amount of fast-food chains, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was one giant tourist trap. Instead, the hotel has an action-packed offering, as its restaurant and bars go from casual to classy.
Whitcomb’s plays a leading role in the hotel. The signature restaurant serves breakfast and includes healthy smoothies, Bloody Marys, crêpes and a full English breakfast – our only gripe, given the price tag, is that we would have loved to choose our style of eggs.
Whitcomb’s is buzzing in the evening, as the lights get turned down and the French Mediterranean dishes come out. We’d recommend the zingy crevettes à l’huile de piment (king prawns with garlic), creamy rigatoni au homard (lobster ravioli) and the fresh turbot au piment (turbot with white wine).
The minimalist chic venue includes grey banquettes, navy chequered seats, black tables and white walls. While it might not be the first place you think of to take the kids, the staff were accommodating to our little guest and provided a high chair, hot milk and high fives.
Make like a local, of course, at Joshua’s Tavern – the gin bar is inspired by Leicester Square’s painter, Joshua Reynolds. Elsewhere, izakaya rooftop bar 8 serves Japanese sake, whisky and cocktails, and The Y Bar is where guests can get free soft beverages and bites.
The Stage, which is located in the lobby, encourages you to linger. The moment you sit down, you’re offered complimentary water. By day, it’s a hotspot for remote workers and business meetings. By night, it gets into its groove with live musicians from Thursday to Sunday. Champagne is the star of the show, as it boasts a Champagne breakfast, Champagne afternoon tea and Champagne in 35 different varieties.
The Londoner’s facilities
The Londoner is event-ready, as it even includes a 1,000-capacity ballroom and two-screen cinema – not what you’d expect from your average boutique hotel. If you need to get ready for your close-up, The Londoner is on hand. Get pampered at AMA nails, Joe Vipon barber or Hiro Miyoshi hair and beauty salon.
The Retreat spa and wellness centre offers a change of scene, as it includes a swimming pool, hydropool, sauna and steam room, which we managed to have all to ourselves in the morning. If you’re travelling with a family, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are dedicated hours, too.
What the basement spa lacks in size – it only has two treatment rooms, so was fully booked on our visit – it makes up for in style. Relax in the secluded cabanas with plush cushions, as the attentive staff offer vitality shots.
As the credits roll on our stay, we have embraced the glitz and glamour. So, while you might not live like a local, you will feel like an A-lister – and that’s certainly worth a standing ovation.
GO: Visit www.thelondoner.com for bookings and more information.