One of my favorite views in London is from the Westminster Bridge: To one side is the face of Big Ben and the fanciful spires of Westminster Palace, to the other is the giant spinning London Eye — all reflected in the calm waters of the River Thames. What’s even better than a view from a bridge is waking up right next to the river and looking out at the glittering Thames from your hotel window. Here are three waterfront stays that offer the best river vistas in the city.
London Marriott Hotel County Hall
Right at the foot of Westminster Bridge, the five-star, 206-room London Marriott Hotel County Hall (marriott.com) opened last fall following a multi-million dollar renovation. Once the seat of the London County Council, this ornately columned landmark building dates from 1922 and drips with historical details — vaulted ceilings, wrought-iron accents, marble fireplaces, rich wood paneling. Some of its riverfront rooms have balconies, so go ahead, step out and take in unobstructed views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in your skivvies. There’s also the biggest indoor hotel pool in London and an outdoor terrace where you can take your afternoon tea.
Set on the South Bank of the Thames in the 1970s Sea Containers House — once headquarters to one of the world’s largest shipping companies — the 359-room Mondrian London (morganshotelgroup.com) is one of the hippest stays in the city. From the mod Tom Dixon-designed river-facing rooms, you can soak up great views of the Blackfriars Bridge and the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral beyond. You’re also within walking distance of the Tate Modern and the National Theatre. Its ground-floor restaurant, Sea Containers, has large windows overlooking the riverfront promenade and the next-door lounge Dandelyan was awarded World’s Best Cocktail Bar Menu (by the Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans). If you can’t score a riverfront room, head upstairs to the rooftop Rumpus Room for panoramic views of the city.
Good Hotel London
The 148-room Good Hotel London (goodhotellondon.com) isn’t exactly on the Thames, we admit. But it’s pretty darn close — and here, you’ll be staying right on the water — in a floating former detention center moored at the Royal Victoria Dock in East London. One side offers views of the Thames and the O2 arena — otherwise you can head up to the sprawling rooftop bar for panoramic vistas of the river and shiny new high-rises in this up-and-coming part of the city. Resembling a shipping container on the outside, the one-time prison has been completely transformed by two young Dutch designers into a sleek, trendy hotel, with open, industrial-style spaces, modern furniture and neon artwork. Rooms can be tiny, so consider trading up for a deluxe room with a king-size bed and water views or a bigger corner room, also with water views.