Whether you’re a London newbie or an old timer, a hotel on the Thames is an great choice for a London trip. Sit back and relax as you watch tourists, city workers and joggers pass by your window from the comfort of your breakfast table with the impressive backdrop of London’s historical landscape.
Not the relaxing type or prefer more of an adventure? There’s plenty going on at the river-front. Where else is it possible to visit Parliament, view paintings from world-famous artists, take a thrill ride in a speed boat, rock out to your favourite band, eat food from every continent while listening to Big Ben, go skateboarding and round off the night in a glass pod, 443 feet in the air, all in one day?
During the summer months the areas alongside the Thames come to life. Food festivals, street performers, the annual Udderbelly comedy festival, temporary fair grounds and art instillation’s are set up along the South Bank. Winter time sees Christmas markets, festive fairground rides and ice rinks at several locations along the way.
I’ve rounded up 5 of the best London hotels with a River Thames view, and for those of you who are not familiar with London I’ve added a few traveller tips to help get your planning under way.
The Shangri-La hotel at The Shard.
Images by Norio NAKAYAMA
Let’s start with maybe the most obvious – and most expensive – choice. Obvious because it’s situated inside the second tallest building in the whole of London ensuring unbeatable views – not just of the Thames – but of the entire city. Unlike the other accommodations on this list, the Shangri-La Hotel is not located directly alongside the river, but is situated just a 5 minute walk around the corner.
With an uninterrupted view of the whole of London, here you will wake up to the Thames, eat with the Thames, even bathe with the Thames! In fact, the hotel even has an infinity pool located on the 52nd floor!
Traveller tips: London Bridge Underground and National Rail station’s are just a short walk from The Shard. Services from here are the Jubilee and Northern lines – perfect for exploring the Docklands, checking out the West End or trying some bargain eats at Camden Market.
Nearby attractions within walking distance include the floating HMS Belfast Naval museum ship, Southwalk Cathedral where choral prayers are help daily and Borough Market where you can shop a massive selection of local produce, bakeries, coffee and more.
Cheval Three Quays.
Coming back down to Earth and hopping just across the river you’ll find a homely residential development of luxury apartments named Cheval Three Quays. This complex is situated next door to the Tower of London, has views looking directly towards Tower Bridge or the Shard and the Tower Pier river boat stop directly outside the building.
One of the major benefits of choosing an apartment over a hotel is that you get the opportunity to live like a local, and with views like these you’ll be staying amongst some of the most privileged of them.
Traveller tips: Did you know that your Oyster Card is not only valid on tubes, buses and trams, but is valid on the river too? There’s no need to spend extra on river cruises. You can view the major Thames tourist hotspots from one of Transport For London’s River Buses and River Tours. River Buses are paid for using your Oyster Card, while River Tours are offered at a reduced cost when you show your card.
The Westminster to Greenwich line stops right outside of this property, so make a day out of it and pop up to Greenwich, stand on the Meridian Line, explore the museums and parks and be sure to pack a picnic. The Royal Greenwich Observatory is situated on a hill that overlooks the city providing breath taking views. Film buffs will recognise their surroundings as the area has played host to many famous Hollywood movie scenes. Thor 2, Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman: The Dark Knight Rises to name but a few!
The nautical themed Mondrian London hotel is based in the old Sea Containers building next to Blackfriars Bridge, making this the perfect riverside hotel to stay at if you have business to attend to within the City of London as it’s just a hop, skip and a jump across the bridge. The building was opened in the 1970s with the intention of being a grand hotel, but due to the economy at the time it was instead turned in to offices. Mondrian recently gave the building a complete overhaul and converted it in to the stylish hotel that it was born to be. Complete with an art deco cinema, spa and fitness suites and a bar and restaurant that offers panoramic views of the city.
In keeping with the nautical theme, the front of the hotel is designed to look like a 1920s cruise liner, and the rooms styled with cabin like interiors. There are lots of accommodation choices at the Mondrian. From neat cabin style rooms, to rooms with a private patio, to a suite with a balcony facing St Paul Cathedral, Canary Wharf or the art deco era OXO Tower.
Traveller Tips: The OXO Tower ceased production of beef stock cubes a long time ago and instead houses high class eateries and bars. There are arts and crafts stores downstairs and a viewing area on the top floor.
Fans of the arts will be spoiled for choice as there are several theatres and galleries within short walking distance of the Mondrian, including the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and The Tate Modern Gallery.
Four Seasons Hotel at Canary Wharf.
Head along the river eastwards to Canary Wharf and you’ll find the Four Seasons Hotel London. This 5 star hotel not only has rooms with a river view, it also had a swimming pool situated in front the main building with 360° views of the city.
The accommodations are relatively spacious for a central London hotel, but my favourite feature of the rooms is the window boxes: Some of the rooms have large windows with a built in seat that faces toward the City of London skyline. I could easily waste a few hours of my trip gazing at the sunset whilst reading a book here.
Traveller Tips: When it comes to transport links you will be spoiled for choice at Canary Wharf. Several bus, DLR and underground stops can be found within a 5-10 min walk from the hotel, and like the Cheval Three Quays, the Four Seasons also has a River Bus stop right outside.
There’s a lot of money floating around Canary Wharf and the local shopping center reflects this. You’ll find designer outlets, car show rooms and fancy restaurants as well as plenty of high street names. Shopping not your thing? Canary Wharf is home to a huge collection of sculptures by world renowned artists. These pieces are dotted around the complex. See how many you can spot before heading over to the Docklands Museum. Based in an old dock storage building – much like this hotel I visited in Liverpool last year – the museum tells the story of the Thames and the history of its docklands through exhibits and events.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel.
If a central location is the most important factor when choosing a hotel then The Royal Horseguards Hotel. is what you’re looking for. Rooms have a Thames view that face the London Eye, making it the best place to stay for London’s annual fireworks display on New Years Eve. Book early though as New Year’s Eve sells out fast!
Traveller Tips: The Royal Horseguards Hotel is situated near Embankment underground station, Victoria Embankment, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, the Southbank Centre and many more tourist hotspots. Almost everything you need is within walking distance.