the londoner penthouse

The Londoner: The luxury hotel breathing new life into Leicester Square

19 Mar 2024 | |By Kari Colmans

Having first opened its doors in the autumn of 2021, The Londoner marks the beginning of a rebirth for London’s Leicester Square. Bringing five-star dining, service, wellness and suites to the table, this super-sized hotel delivers

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner but when I first read that a stylish new hotel, complete with a rooftop izakaya and cocktail bar, an impressive spa, and a destination brasserie, was opening its doors in… Leicester Square, I couldn’t help but get the ick. Mayfair? Yes, please. Kensington? Dreamy. Soho? All day, any day. But Leicester Square? Surely that’s just for first-time tourists and M&M’s junkies?

Or is it? As I arrive to check in after a leisurely stroll down Regent Street, the first glimmers of spring already casting a sunny spell over the weekend ahead, I am surprised at how few of those milling about in the foyer appear to be from overseas. Indeed, there wasn’t a bulging bum bag or visor in sight. So what is it that’s drawing locals to this well-known tourist hot spot?

Set over 16 storeys, The Londoner is home to 350 bedrooms and suites, six concept dining spots, a private guest residence and an urban wellness retreat, as well as seven meeting spaces and a whopper of a ballroom that can hold up to 850 guests. But you really wouldn’t know it. Entering from the street, I’m greeted by a cosy, laidback, almost boutique lounge and bar area, where both day guests and overnight slumberers are dotted about enjoying tea and cake, an early evening tipple, or a hot coffee with a side of laptop for one. The vibe is relaxed, buzzy – cool, even.

the londoner corner suite
All images: Andrew Beasley

I’m shown to my room via a dedicated lift (each goes to a different part of the huge building like in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory), finding a light, bright, pretty space with sleek, contemporary design. I’m not bowled over by intricate craftsmanship or flashy artwork. Nor am I frantically trying to find a colour match on Graham & Greene to recreate the look. But it ticks every muted, textured, pop-of-colour box (unless you want a deep bath to soak in – the tub is quite unnaturally shallow).

I head straight down to the spa for a swim, where groups and couples are lounging around the pool area, steaming, sauna-ing, and champagne sipping. I assume some are in for the day, while others are making a week or weekend of it; perhaps there for a wedding or pre-nuptial knees up. The pool is a perfect size and temperature, while the fluffy towels and robes are plentiful and inviting.

the londoner spa

But the real (unexpected) sensation here is the food. My husband joins me early evening for a seat at 8 at The Londoner, an elegant and stylish izakaya terrace, lounge and bar, complete with rooftop views over London. We had planned to enjoy a range of cocktails but are so blown away by the margaritas (the twist of rosemary does it) that we stick to those for the second (and third) rounds. Small plates and bar snacks entice us to drink more which, in turn, compels us to keep on ordering despite a dinner reservation downstairs. The food, drinks, ambience, and service are so on point that we really don’t want to move. Ever.

The grilled Padron peppers with ama miso have my husband demanding more lest he consider consuming the stalks (and this from a man who doesn’t count vegetables as food), while the king prawns wrapped in filo pastry are golden, firm and crackling hot on the outside, yet firm, silky, and unctuous within. Meanwhile, the wagyu tataki with black truffle, lobster gyoza tacos, and baby chicken roasted with lemon miso butter have us groaning with shame that we just can’t stop.

the londoner whisky bar

Taking one for the team, we head down to in-house restaurant Whitcomb’s to carry on eating. The menu is broadly Mediterranean, which never gets me salivating quite like a single destination eatery: jack of all trades, and all that. But again, I eat my words, and then dessert.

The steak carpaccio with lemon zest and parmesan, and yellowtail with citrus and miso salt are light and delicate, while the king prawns with lemon, chilli and coriander are perfectly cooked. The standout dish is the lobster linguine with garlic and San Marzano tomatoes, which having sampled more than a dozen or so across the capital, is up there with the best of them. I don’t have the head or stomach space for wine, but I’m reassured by my other half that it’s top-notch, as is the chocolate fondant. We are taken care of at every turn, and any modifications are met with a smile: five-star service, second to none.

the londoner whitcomb's restaurant

We retreat to our plush bed and pass out in a food coma before going again at breakfast with avocado toast, eggs, pancetta, and endless cups of tea and pastries over the morning papers, as we laugh about how we used to stumble across the square outside, queueing for late night McDonald’s once the clubs had closed. We agree that the hotel doesn’t have quite the same old-world charisma as some of Mayfair’s historic heavyweights, but for half the price – and none of the posturing – it would be our go-to recommendation for friends and family visiting from abroad in a heartbeat.

Impressive and exclusive without breaking the bank (comparatively), The Londoner is bringing all but the kitchen sink to the table. And with some of the most memorable food and drink we’ve sampled in a long time, it won’t be long before the crowds start to infiltrate. If we ever manage another date night this year (three young children don’t regular date nights make), those margaritas and Padrons have my name on. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner… that actually, I quite love The Londoner so.

Rooms from £400 per night, visit

Read more: The best five-star hotels in London