By Peter Terzian
July 08, 2020
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This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

In just the past 15 years or so, London has become a garden of glass and steel, courtesy of the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Scalpel, and a handful of other cleverly nicknamed skyscrapers. But despite the city’s efflorescence of forward-thinking design, visitors to London by and large seem to yearn for the past: the grande dame hotels of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the world of top-hatted attendants and afternoon tea, are as popular as ever.

Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Genteel service is still of primary importance to London visitors. At the two-century-old Connaught, located on a quiet street in Mayfair, “everyone from the doorman to the chambermaids welcomes you graciously,” wrote one reader of this year’s No. 5. “This is a private retreat from the real world.” At the Lanesborough, set in a building just behind Buckingham Palace that dates back to 1719, “every staff member recognizes you by name from the moment you check in,” according to another reader's comments about the No. 7 hotel. (The same reader was delighted by the Lanesborough’s resident kitten, Lilibet.)

Other classic retreats remain reader favorites: The Ritz, with its legendary high tea, captivated our voters; it ranked No. 6. So too did the Hotel Café Royal, which was once a restaurant that drew guests including Oscar Wilde and David Bowie and is today the No. 2 property in London, T+L readers said.

But the hotel that voters love the most — Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard, London — marries traditional service with futuristic architecture. Read on for the full list of the best hotels in London.

1. Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard, London

Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Score: 98.06

More information: shangri-la.com

Housed in the Shard, a 95-story Renzo Piano building near London Bridge, the Shangri-La won accolades for its prime location “near foodie heaven Borough Market,” as one reader wrote. But other readers felt a deep connection to the team that made their stays memorable. “This is the only hotel in the world that made me feel special,” wrote one voter. “The staff possesses a sense of connectivity, happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. The whole experience made me feel more like a family member than just a guest or visitor.” There’s one other thing this property offers that more low-to-the-ground accommodations can’t: the view from 50 floors up. “Favorite experience: opening the window blinds when waking up each morning and being able to see all over London,” raved a fan.

2. Hotel Café Royal

Courtesy of Hotel Café Royal

Score: 97.07

More information: hotelcaferoyal.com

3. The Milestone Hotel & Residences

Courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels

Score: 95.16

More information: milestonehotel.com

4. The Stafford London

Courtesy of The Stafford London

Score: 95.03

More information: thestaffordlondon.com

5. The Connaught

Courtesy of The Connaught Hotel

Score: 95.00

More information: the-connaught.co.uk

6. The Ritz London

Courtesy of The Ritz London

Score: 94.24

More information: theritzlondon.com

7. The Lanesborough

Courtesy of The Lanesborough

Score: 94.18

More information: oetkercollection.com

8. Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Score: 94.12

More information: fourseasons.com

9. Ham Yard Hotel

Courtesy of Ham Yard Hotel

Score: 93.74

More information: firmdalehotels.com

10. Rosewood London

Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Score: 93.69

More information: rosewoodhotels.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.