Top 14. Hotels in London for Sustainability, Secret Gardens & Olde Englishe Charm
Here is my list of the most charmingly dated, fairy tale, oak-beamed, wooden-panelled, Ye Olde Englishe places to stay in London. Perfect for those who want to step back in time, sleep like a royal and experience the eccentric, unconventional or downright bizarre that is the keepsake of these historic hotels, many with enchanted gardens where you can secret yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
My top hotels have been picked for their individual ambience in three main categories; ‘Musical’, ‘Mystical’ and ‘Green’. These are all aspects that drew me when looking for somewhere to stay, so if they interest you too, read on! At each establishment you will find some or all of the following:
- Live music available in your hotel
- A historic, magical or ‘other-worldly’ feel
- Hotel gardens where you can breathe in sweet-smelling air (quite a rarity in London!)
- Organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten- or dairy-free menus
- A commitment to environmental sustainability in business practices
A few of the hotels chosen have been awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold in the Green Tourism Awards for their commitment to sustainability & minimising the environmental impact of tourism, so you will see this sign whenever you come across them. Enjoy!
What to expect:
- One of the East End’s best kept secrets – originally constructed in 1790, this former Ale House offers three luxurious bedroom suites with private bathrooms & a garden roof terrace
- Each of the three rooms offers a four-poster bed, antique surroundings and original Victorian settings, green views and birdsong
- A splendid roof terrace that looks out onto St George-in-the-East church gardens and the famous Battle of Cable Street wall mural
- Aristocratic dining in their drawing room on breakfast tea and scones
- Tucked away on the most charming and historic street in London’s East End, Cable Street Inn is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Shadwell DLR, Shadwell Overground services and the Thames
- Prices start from £130 per night including full breakfast
What to expect:
- A mini 2-bedroom modern apartment with its own en suite bathroom, kitchen and colourful sitting area
- To stay in an 1868 Gothic revival railway clock tower situated directly below the clock at St Pancras Station (don’t worry – it doesn’t chime, but you will hear the trains!)
- 10 metre high ceilings, original 19th century features, and stunning views across London
- A library full of books and your very own grand piano
- A farmer’s market (Wednesday – Friday) on your doorstep
- The best travel connections in the city
- Prices starting from £141 per night
See that tower? That’s where you’ll be – in the grand room directly below the clock.
That’s your view!
The Royal Foundation of St Katharine has a history stretching back to, wait for it … 1147 when it was founded by Queen Matilda, the wife of King Stephen. It has since survived two world wars, countless religious uprisings, fire damage, the opening and subsequent closing of St Katharine’s Docks, and a site transferral to Regent’s Park in North London under a different name. You will be truly fascinated by the stories it has to tell! Read more about it here.
What To Expect:
- A peaceful, historic oasis just 1o minutes from central London
- A chapel and private gardens on site
- Comfortable, inexpensive rooms
- Continental Breakfast Buffet served from 7am – 10am Monday to Friday, and served 8am – 10am Saturday and Sunday
- Prices starting from £64 per night
What to expect:
- To stay in one of London’s most beautiful former town halls – this was once the seat of Bethnal Green’s courts and tribunals, built in 1910
- To get the feeling you have stepped onto a film set – the Edwardian decor of grand, spacious court rooms, sky-high vaulted ceilings with original cornicing, and deep wooden panelling is everywhere – you can even visit the original court room, which is now used for events!
- Perfect for: Foodies and law boffs. Two of London’s top restaurants and bars – the Typing Room and the Corner Room – are on site. The restaurants are named after the building’s original Typing Room in which all communications from the mayoral, council and judicial system were put to ink. It now serves dishes produced with local, seasonal British ingredients.
- 5 minutes by tube into the city centre
- Close to many sustainable restaurants, bars and markets – including Hackney Downs Market on most Saturdays
- Chic, luxury pied à terre rooms and suites
- Prices starting from £133 per night
No.43 and No.45 Cloth Fair in Smithfield, Farringdon, are two separate, ‘untouched’ and complete period homes owned by British heritage charity The Landmark Trust. Guests are invited to stay & relive their famous residents’ history in these warm, historic, self-catering houses.
What to expect:
- An entire Georgian home split over two floors all to yourself
- Period features and oodles of old English charm
- Homely comfort and decor – No. 45 Cloth Fair has a working fireplace for those winter evenings
- No. 43 Cloth Fair has a private roof terrace for your morning café
- Adjacent to the historic Victorian buildings of Smithfield Market
- To be in the centre of the city with easy transport links
- Perfect for: literature lovers – No. 43 Cloth Fair was once the home of Sir John Betjeman – the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1972, and also incidentally one of my favourite poets. The wallpaper in the sitting room, a William Morris design called Acorn, is the same as when Betjeman lived there and the library is now filled with his writings – ideal for a little immersive bed-time reading!
- Prices start from £319 per night – minimum 3 nights stay
13 Princelet Street in Spitalfields is The Landmark Trust‘s impressive restoration project of an 18th century four-storey family home. The original joinery, period furniture, features & secret walled garden are what gives this historic hideaway its undeniable charm. Step back in time to this time capsule, away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets outside.
What to expect:
- A 4-floor property all to yourselves, with 18th century period features throughout
- 18th century spacious splendour with modernised 21st century comforts – dishwasher, shower & Waitrose Delivery are offered!
- Peace & quiet in one of London’s busiest areas – sip your morning café in your secret walled garden
- To never want for things to do – 13 Princelet Street is located on my favourite street in Spitalfields, near the buzzing area of Brick Lane & Shoreditch. Vibrant cafes, food markets & street festivals await, as well as loads of vintage shops to rifle through
- Sleeps 6
- 4 nights from £1433. Minimum of 4 nights stay
The Temple Lodge Club is a late Georgian villa in Hammersmith turned vegan-, vegetarian- & celiac-friendly Bed & Breakfast. Originally built in 1819, there is also evidence that a former building on the same site was once owned by the Knights Templar. Among its varied uses, the artist Sir Frank Bragwyn, a friend of William Morris, lived here between 1899 – 1934, and the Bed & Breakfast has retained its artistic feel mixed with historic grandeur. Guests can still revel in a time when Sir Bragwyn furnished the house with exquisite drawings, furniture, and an extensive garden filled with exotic plants, which many of the rooms still look out on today.
What to expect:
- A homely ‘hippie’ feel in period Georgian grandeur – polished wooden floors, high ceilings and original antique windows with views out over the garden. All the rooms are bright and airy
- Art-inspired, bohemian-style furnishings. Each room has been decorated in its own unique style and named after history’s greatest artists, such as the ‘Botticelli’ room and ‘Van Gogh’. You can choose your own here
- Organic breakfast included in the price per night of every room. This is a vegetarian breakfast buffet offering a selection cereals, fruit, egg, yogurt, and cheeses, as well as gluten-free products and dairy alternatives
- Perfect for: spiritual travellers, vegetarians and vegans. The villa is run as a non-profit organisation with a Chapel on its grounds, and Sir Frank Bragwyn’s former artist’s studio has been home to The Gate, London’s best-renowned vegan and vegetarian restaurant, since 1989.
- Rooms range in price, starting from £30 per night for a Standard Single room
When it comes to London’s greenest and most sustainable pubs & inns, The Culpeper is top of my list. It’s named after the famous 17th century herbalist and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper, author of The Complete Herbal – a rich catalogue of plants and herbs with medicinal properties published in 1653. The Culpeper’s events, workshops and fertile rooftop garden that supplies their bar and restaurant all bear homage to Culpeper’s love of all things mystical, medicinal and green. Enjoy a drink here, soak in its countryside-in-the-city feel, & stay (after one too many?!) in one of their cosy and farmhouse-style rooms.
What to expect:
- Crisp, clean rooms with a distinct rustic feel
- An impressive roof garden with extraordinary city views
- Ever-changing variety of on-site events inspired by botanicals and the stars, including Rooftop Astronomy, where you’ll star-watch with biodynamic wine and a main course in their Culpeper Restaurant. Check out all of their events here!
- The many tantalising wonders of Shoreditch, including Brick Lane (best on a Sunday), Spitalfields Market, and Columbia Road right on doorstep
- Prices start from £120 per night
- Perfect for: Mystics, gardeners, and those that love a tipple. The Culpeper’s gorgeous downstairs bar is one of the finest for the opportunity to sample small-hold wineries all of the world, local craft beers, and a seasonal cocktail list inspired and created by the herbs available to them from their own roof garden
Located in leafy Maida Vale, a stone’s throw from the picturesque canals of Little Venice in North West London, lies The Warrington Hotel. A Grade II listed, spacious period inn with 5 custom-designed rooms decorated & named after Victorian tradespeople and characters that would once have frequented its bar – The Milliner, The Blacksmith, The Artisan, The Traveller, & The Game Keeper. Rumoured to have once been an upmarket brothel, the former owners decided to upgrade the establishment using joinery from an old ship – its fireplace, bar & staircase – to put down any unsavoury rumours. All of these features still stand and make the most impressive interior! I will admit that it was the bar that caught my attention in the first place…
What to expect:
- A spacious, grand 19th century inn & boutique hotel of 5 beautifully designed rooms
- Intricate floor mosaics, stained glass windows, vaulted wooden ceilings & art nouveau embellishments
- King size beds & ensuite rooms
- To never want to leave the bar, but be drawn by the architecture, waterways & tree-lined avenues outside that are characteristic of this part of London
- Perfect for: Historians and anyone who loves themed interior design. Each of the 5 rooms has been decorated to reflect the trades of the Victorian characters they are named after – The Blacksmith sports a brass-finished wrought iron bed and natural timber, whilst The Artisan features an artistic mix of the finest upholstery prints. Read more about the rooms here.
- Prices start from £165 per night with complimentary breakfast included
Fall in love with this luxury Bloomsbury hotel’s sense of totally irreverent fun when it comes to decor. No pattern matches. You’ll stay in the room of a particularly eccentric aristocrat, a lovable high society lady who is teetering on her heels as she reaches for her first glass of champagne, but don’t worry! She’s away for the day.
What to expect:
- Historic splendour & quirky furnishings – gilt bed frames, velvet upholstering & glittering chandeliers
- A conservatory & a cigar terrace on site
- 11 individually decorated rooms & suites
- Afternoon Tea served daily on the terrace – freshly baked scones, clotted cream and homemade jam, a selection of sandwiches & an array of pastries
- An enchanted garden hideaway exclusive to the hotel famous for its quirky, seasonal themes – an alpine Ski Lodge in Winter & a Hawaiian Beach Bar in Summer
- Live music, Monday – Saturday in their Leopard Bar, with a jazz band on Wednesday & Thursday. A pianist accompanies Afternoon Tea every Sunday from 2 – 5 PM
- Rooms starting from £200 per night
- Awarded Green Tourism Silver Award
The Troubadour is one of the most famous & well-loved live music venues in London – its endearingly eccentric bar is crammed with colourful oddities and the higgledy-piggledy space spans several floors – I’m always making discoveries when I go here! Having stumbled upon their beautiful secret garden (red & white chequered tablecloths and fairy lights strung from the trees) whilst attending a gig by close friend Domi Hawken, I sipped my wine and thought ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if guests could stay here too…’ I honestly thought that it couldn’t possibly hold a hotel as well – where would they fit it in for one thing! Of course, the Troubadour is full of surprises. And so it was that I discovered two self-contained apartments at the top of the venue space – the Garrett and the Elanor – which are quirky & full of colour and charm, just like the rest of the place!
What to expect:
- Two spacious, well-equipped & self-catering apartments with comfy beds and eccentric splashes of colour here and there
- Perfect for: the musician or bohemian traveller
- Picked for: Its gorgeous restaurant, bar, garden & live music venue on site (literally below you!) What more do we need?
- Surrounded by leafy Kensington, countless pubs and 10 minutes by tube into central London
- Prices start from £175 per night
This kitschy Latin-American themed hotel is located in Camberwell, South London, and is ‘inspired by the warmth and sensuality of the Americas’. They source all of the food for their restaurant from British or local London producers and the spread at breakfast is truly mouth-watering!
What to expect:
- Eclectic, vibrant Mexican decor in each of the individually-decorated rooms – including hand-painted wall tiles in the bathrooms
- Two buzzing bars on site – you might not want to leave the hotel! The Havana Club Lounge, which is open 24 hours, and Angels & Gypsies Spanish tapas restaurant both have their home here
- A £5 Church Street Hotel Unlimited Continental Breakfast for each guest, which features: organic coffee (Monmouth London) and teas (Clipper), Neal’s Yard Organic Dairy products, organic sourdough bread from Hill Bakery across the road, Rookery Farm free range eggs, cheese from Ogleshield in Somerset, an entire charcuterie and more…
- Prices starting from £70 per night
So first of all, can you believe that this is actually a hostel? With prices starting from £18 per night? There are several reasons I chose the Palmers Lodge in Swiss Cottage to add to the Enchanted & Green London Hotels Guide…
What to expect:
- A beautiful, spacious hostel located inside an old mansion in North London
- Original wood panelling and finishes throughout – the beds are all made from the same rich, sturdy wood (you have no idea how many hostels I looked at where I wondered: ‘are the beds actually going to hold my weight?!’)
- Privacy and green spaces to unwind – this hostel thoughtfully provides curtains on its Dorm Room beds… I think most people would need some privacy if you’re going to be sharing with total strangers! It’s amazing how many hostels skimp on this little detail…
- A big garden with picnic benches, as well as spacious common rooms where guests can chill out, have a coffee, or play a game of pool
- A large breakfast spread for £4.50
- Prices starting from £18 per night
Billed as London’s first ‘eco hotel’, this lively and beautiful building certainly sports some fascinating sustainability credentials. One of these is that the hotel actually has its own ‘bore hole’ – a 1,500 foot hole underneath the building which acts as a self-sustaining water system – pumping water up and around to flush the hotel’s toilets as well as cooling the building. Pretty cool, right? The architecture was also designed and crafted from eco-friendly and sustainably-sourced materials such as repurposed timber.
What to expect:
- All glass and paper is recycled
- The air con turns off when you open a window
- Each room is fitted with an ‘occupancy detection’ system, which means that minimal energy is burned when you’re out.
- Throw into the mix 7 deluxe suites with panoramic views across the city from their private balconies (1 with al fresco bathing!) and you have yourself a winner! No wonder it was awarded Gold by Green Tourism. I love it.
- Eco-warriors and anyone who cares about sustainable tourism
- Relaxing and unwinding in the heart of London.
- Having King’s Cross and Farringdon just a stone’s throw away with excellent transport links to explore vibrant Shoreditch and the East End
- Rooftop views
- An excellent bar
Prices start from £135.00 per night. Book here!
I couldn’t possibly round this article off without the addition of this unique last hotel – a hotel that floats!
Down by the King George V lock in London’s Docklands sits this astounding hotel, which moved here by submersible barge all the way from Amsterdam in October 2016.
It will stay in London for 5 years before moving on again, trailing goodwill and conscious tourism in its wake. The Good Hotel promises the following:
- To train the previously unemployed. This is done via their Good Training program, which sees long-term unemployed locals embarking on a full hospitality training course with the promise of a full-time salary on completion at The Good Hotel
- To source all of their materials and ingredients as locally as possible and to help charities grow by collaboration with the hotel
- To help children in need – every room booked direct via their website donates £5.00 to their chosen NGO partner, Niños de Guatemala.
The rates are equally inclusive with a Standard View Room starting from £99 per night.
- Water bunnies and social enterprise experts – this hotel is a floating community in and of itself
- Chic, tailored interior design
- A waterside terrace for drinks and dining
So there you have my list – I hope you enjoyed it! See you next time 😉
In Love&Light FS XOX