Fora’s Guide to Firmdale Hotels, London Edition

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Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


  • London

  • United Kingdom

  • England

a luxe hotel room with blue walls and a bed with an oversized upholstered headboard covered in boldly patterned fabric

Image courtesy of Ham Yard Hotel

It’s not hyperbolic to call Kit Kemp a design genius. She’s the ultra-talented designer and co-owner of Firmdale Hotels, a tastefully eclectic, vibrant collection of properties in London and New York. The brand is quintessentially British, but with a playful, whimsical flair. (Although, Kit’s stateside gems are among our favorite boutique hotels in New York.)

In New York, you’re spoiled for choice: there’s the Midtown Whitby, the SoHo Crosby Street Hotel and the brand’s latest addition, Warren Street Hotel, in TriBeCa. In London, even more so. There are eight properties to choose from. All feature Kit’s signature design, albeit with slight variations. And in typical Firmdale fashion, unique hidden gems and bespoke details give each property its own personality. 

“Kit Kemp’s design is bold and playful, and the Firmdale properties embody her eclectic taste,” Henley Vazquez, Fora’s Co-Founder, said. “Expect vibrant patterns, art sourced from around the globe and of course, her signature upholstered headboards.” 

Below is a brief overview of Firmdale’s London properties. But this, of course, is just that: an overview (we could write volumes on every Firmdale hotel). Connect with Fora, and one of our expert travel advisors will match-make you to the Firmdale London hotel (or New York property) that best suits your taste, preferences and budget. In the meantime, here’s a little travel inspiration to get started.

Dorset Square Hotel

a sunny dining room with green-white-and-yellow upholstered chairs amidst lime-green walls

Image courtesy of Dorset Square Hotel

The 38-room Dorset Square Hotel was Kit and Tim Kemp’s first hotel endeavor. They purchased the townhouse, located on what was once Thomas Lord’s cricket ground, in 1985. (They sold the hotel in 2002 and reacquired it 10 years later.) You’ll find nods to the location’s history throughout the hotel: cricket-ball closet handles, a collection of cricket bats. Kit Kemp is a master at imbuing her spaces with a sense of playfulness. 

Dorset Square is one of the more approachably priced properties in Firmdale’s portfolio. It’s small and intimate, with a fantastic concierge to boot. 

Fora Advisor Claire Herzog recounted how the impressive team helped her secure Wimbledon tickets for her clients this summer. 

“There's not anything they won't help with!” Claire said.

She especially loves the hotel's namesake garden, exclusively open to Dorset Square residents and hotel guests, that the property abuts. Claire explained it’s the perfect place to read a book or enjoy a picnic prepared by the hotel’s team. Every evening, enjoy £14 cocktails, accompanied by a plate of elevated bar snacks, at Aperitivo Hour in Potting Shed, the hotel’s bar and restaurant. And don’t miss one of the signature cheese dinners, where guests savor a curated cheese-focused menu followed by a cheese tasting. 

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Charlotte Street Hotel

two vibrantly patterned upholstered arm chairs in front of a stone fireplace

Image courtesy of Charlotte Street Hotel

This 52-room gem is housed in a formal dental warehouse, in London’s Bloomsbury neighborhood. The famed Bloomsbury Group — a mélange of writers, artists and intellectuals from the early 20th century, including Virginia Woolf — inspires much of the decor. The hotel commissioned the British artist Alexander Hollweg to create a contemporary mural based on a painting by Scottish artist Duncan Grant, part of the Bloomsbury Set. There’s even a Virginia Woolf Suite, which is also the ideal location for an in-room massage. Charlotte Street also regularly hosts a Firmdale Book Salon, where authors come to discuss their work, either in the hotel’s intimate Drawing Room or theater. 

And the location is perfect. Nearby, explore the British Museum and the charming Charlotte Place, a leafy locale filled with boutiques. 

Fora Advisor Jennifer Lopez recommends the Charlotte Street Hotel as a great homebase for a first-timer’s visit to London. Get all of her recommendations in her London four-day itinerary.

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Related Article: The 7 Best Hotels in London

Covent Garden Hotel

a sunlit living room with green upholstered chairs amid wallpaper displaying a verdant landscaoe

Image courtesy of Covent Garden Hotel

This restored French hospital is found in London’s Seven Dials neighborhood, near boutiques, cafés, numerous theaters and Covent Garden’s famed piazza. Fora Advisor Meredith Alexander, one of the hotel’s top bookers within Fora’s community, raved about its amazing location.

“This hotel is smack dab in the center of it all and a stone’s throw to all the best West End theater in the city,” she said. “I especially love the upstairs lounge with cozy seating and windows overlooking the bustling cobblestone streets below.”

The decor is a bit more traditional and subdued compared to the rest of Firmdale’s London hotels. Expect handsome wood paneling, grand staircases, heavy drapes and a distinctly British sophistication. The martinis at Brasserie Max, the hotel’s all-day restaurant, are mandatory. And don’t miss one of their signature wine dinners, which are held throughout the year. 

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Ham Yard Hotel

a handsome library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and fresh flowers

Image courtesy of Ham Yard

Ham Yard Hotel is supremely located: it’s in Soho, mere blocks away from Mayfair, and abuts a tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare brimming with independent shops (including Kit Kemp’s very own boutique store). 

A rooftop garden supplies much of the produce for the hotel’s modern European restaurant (get the dover sole). If the weather’s nice, opt to enjoy your meal in the oak-filled courtyard, home to a stunning Tony Cragg sculpture. Ham Yard is also the only Firmdale property with an in-house spa, Soholistic. Another highlight: the Croc Bowling Alley. 

“A bowling alley doesn't properly convey that it's the most stylish place you'll ever bowl in your entire life,” Claire said. 

Pro tip from Claire: If you celebrate Christmas, the hotel will happily wrap your presents from Santa, and place them beneath a Christmas tree in a private space they’ll arrange for you. 

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Haymarket Hotel

brightly colored chairs and couches in a living room with pink walls and a vibrant square painting

Image courtesy of Haymarket Hotel

John Nash, the architect behind British icons like Buckingham Palace, designed Haymarket’s regal building. Inside, contemporary art mingles with bright colors and posh furniture. Underground, there’s a sleek swimming pool and accompanying pewter bar. You’ll feel like a savvy local at all Firmdale London hotels, and this is especially true of Haymarket’s Townhouse. You can reserve two to five rooms within the Townhouse, and still access all the amenities of Haymarket Hotel proper. 

Fora Advisor Ashley Emala was an expat in London for several years, and she recommends the Haymarket Hotel as a top hotel for your London homebase, especially if you are planning a family vacation.

“When we took our two young kids for the first time over a long weekend, I knew exactly what to show them that they would love — nothing boring, only the cool stuff,” Ashley said. You can view all of her recommendations in her guide, 2 Kid-Friendly Days in London.

Fora Advisor Vicki Winters also spoke to the hotel’s family-friendliness, highlighting some of its delightful perks such as children’s board games, books, robes and milk and cookies left during turndown service.

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Knightsbridge Hotel

a luxe living room with an ornate chandelier and floor-to-ceiling windows

Images courtesy of Knightsbridge Hotel

Staying at the Knightsbridge Hotel feels like staying in an ultra-stylish private home. It’s comprised of three townhouses, and is located in London’s exclusive residential neighborhood, Beaufort Gardens. You’re also steps away from some of the city’s top luxury shopping on the famed Brompton Road and Sloane Street. Knightsbridge is Firmdale’s only hotel without a restaurant open to the public. Instead, guests are welcome to enjoy gourmet room service or a meal in the hotel’s drawing room and library. The hotel’s team is also available every evening to mix a craft cocktail. Stay here for an especially intimate experience. 

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Number Sixteen

a sunlit living room with boldly patterned upholstered furniture

Image courtesy of Number Sixteen

Number Sixteen also has more of a private, residential feel: it’s located within a row of white-stucco Victorian townhouses. There’s a lovely private garden complete with a koi pond, mulberry trees and numerous art pieces selected by Kit Kemp herself. The tranquil, nature-filled oasis is the perfect spot to enjoy Number Sixteen’s seasonal afternoon tea. Some of the city’s top museums — the National History Museum, the Science Museum — are nearby, as are Kensington Gardens and the contemporary Serpentine Gallery.

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Related Article: Announcing Our Partnership with Firmdale Hotels + 4 of Our Favorite Firmdale Properties

The Soho Hotel

an old-fashioned juke box in a room with patterned wallpaper

Images courtesy of The Soho Hotel

Kit Kemp can imbue any space with beauty and taste. Case in point: the Soho Hotel, which was once a car park. As with any Firmdale property, the decor honors the past. Soho Hotel’s bar and restaurant is cheekily named Refuel; the bar’s tables are in fact clear crates filled with toy cars. 

Fora Advisor Jill Albino says it’s hard to choose a favorite Firmdale hotel in London. But if she had to choose one in the English capital, it would be the Soho Hotel.

“You question if you are going to the right place when you head down the alley to the entrance,” Jill said of the hotel’s discreetness. “Once inside you just marvel at the art and design spread throughout. The colors are alive and yet there is an exciting, quiet feel to the spaces.”

This Firmdale London hotel is especially well suited for the movie enthusiasts among us. The hotel regularly hosts Fashion & Cinema, an event series featuring discussions with the costume designers behind some of the world’s greatest films. Plus, there’s the Film Club, a stylish theater showing both indie and mainstream pictures. (The theater’s seats are covered with the same leather used in Ferrari cars.) 

Nearby, don’t miss the Photographer’s Gallery, the famed shopping hub Carnaby Street, the historic bakeshop Maison Bertaux nor the open-air Berwick Street Market. (Although you must have a late-night ice cream sundae at Refuel, Jill advised, best enjoyed on one of the restaurant’s two outdoor tables.)

Fora Perks:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Ready to stay at one of Firmdale’s London hotels? Connect with Fora to plan and book your trip.

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Furnished room behind open barn style doors