London is perhaps the World City. A humming financial hub that's the sixth richest place on the planet, it's a city that has huge economic, political and historical impact. Despite this, there are concerns that London's status as a dominating financial force - where a one bedroom flat can reach truly astronomical prices – is transforming the city into a sterile waste ground of empty investment properties and commercial conservatism.
Yet, amid the property developments, slick hotels and glittering skyscrapers you can still find the quirky and characterful side of London which has long set this city apart. If you're a fan of creative ideas, timeless luxury or striking interior design, this city has a huge amount to offer, and here's a few of the unusual places to stay when you're looking for the less ordinary in London.
The Kitsch and the Weird: Themed Hotels.
If you find traditional ideas about tastefulness a bit boring and want a unique experience from your accommodation, then London's themed hotels will more than oblige you. One of the best realised is The Pavilion, where rooms such as Casablanca Nights, a "deco inspired Moorish fantasy", or Enter the Dragon, a "mystical cocktail of oriental treasures" are a brilliant opportunity to revel in something exceptional.
London has some hugely renowned luxury hotels, from The Savoy to Claridges, but London's luxury accommodation isn't only to be found in its famous names. For more interesting and bespoke options, you can explore London's boutique hotels. There's the period charm of The Rookery, filled with open fireplaces, antique furniture and stone flagged floors, impeccable good taste and quiet gardens in Egerton House and gourmet cuisine in The Goring, as well as countless others.
You can also find something much more personal in London's luxury city apartments, where companies such as The Hideaways Club and Prestige Apartments create a homely and convenient luxury that can be hard to find in even the most well-known luxury hotels.
Unique Holiday Rents
From a cosy camper van to a yurt with great tube access, you can find idiosyncratic and interesting holiday rents throughout London. By renting a yurt in Highgate you can enjoy sleeping in the leafy outdoors with the convenience of wireless internet and nearby showers, while artist Tony Hornecker's camper van enjoys the advantages of being in a quiet spot that has easy access to all the fun of Dalston.
There's also plenty more that's available for those who have an eye for the unusual, with church conversions, a Shoreditch warehouse and London Bridge lofts up for grabs.
Spend a Night Locked Up
In one of the stranger quirks of London, there's an ex-courthouse hotel to suit every budget. Clink 78 is a budget backpacker's hostel where The Clash once stood trial, hosting live music and perfect for anyone who wants a lively location and the chance to sleep in an authentic prison-cell.
At the other end of the scale is The Courthouse Hotel, a five-star establishment that's located in the old Grade II listed Marlborough Street Magistrates Court. Charles Dickens worked as a reporter in the building, and Francis Bacon, John Lennon, Keith Richards and Oscar Wilde have all been involved in cases there. It also boasts stunning interiors and a private cinema.
Dive into History
London has a long and extraordinary history, including being founded by the Romans, invaded by Boudicca and destroyed by fire. During your stay it's possible to experience this history through your choice of accommodation.
St Ermins Hotel, for example, is built on the site of a 15th century chapel and played an important part in the Second World War, becoming a base for MI5 and MI6. Now it's a very beautiful, elegant place, as is Rocco Forte's Brown's hotel, the oldest hotel in London. It's believed that Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book here and Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call from this hotel. With London being so full of hidden histories, stay in any period hotel and ask about the history - you're bound to find out something interesting.