by content editor, columnist and Sherelle Jacobs, The Telegraph February 2, 2018
With Meghan Markle set to marry Prince Harry in May, the nation is awhirl with rumours about Roland Mouret white gowns and tradition-breaking peony bouquets. As a result, bride and grooms across the country are feeling the heat.
How to put on their own fairytale day without a palace full of wedding planners at their aid? Finding the ideal hotel space in London can also seem like a doomed mission. How to find a venue with just the right amount of space? Where can one hold both the ceremony and the reception? Which options are lavish, or quirky, or elegant enough to stand out in a city where so many venues look the same, with their faux stucco and sash-covered chairs? And which establishments really push the boundaries of service, to sprinkle some extra magic on the day?
Below is The Telegraph's pick of the most exquisite hotel venues for London weddings – from the five-star that offers first-dance coaching with an award-winning choreographer-in-residence; to a bridal suite with a tub overlooking the London Eye.
Best for… the first dance: Claridge’s
Don’t let a Bollinger-fuelled attempt at the Beyonce booty wiggle be the dance that your guests Facebook tag you in. Marius Caluser – Claridge’s world-leading choreographer-in-residence – works with the hotel’s wedding couples to fine tune their foxtrots and polish up their promenades in the run-up to the main event. Naturally, rehearsals end with a glass of champagne in the leather-walled fumoir. And that final dance? Performed like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the splendour of mirrored ballroom, all frosted candelabras, Art Deco sconces and gilded pilasters.
Wedding size: 16-400
Read the full review: Claridge's, Mayfair
Best for…views: Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard
Exchange wedding vows as clouds lick over the dome of St Paul’s in the foreground, and pose for the camera on the glass-walled grand staircase, as a (photogenic) gold-hued dusk settles on the skyline. Couples can book the entire 34th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, all floor-to-ceiling windows, undulating pink light installations, and furniture slicker than a CEO on autocue. Single spaces available too, from 'Ren', which has the best Thames vistas, to 'Ti' that looks to Battersea Power Station. Of the bridal suite options, 'Shangri-La', has 180-degree views and its own spotting scope, and 'London' has a soaking tub that oggles the Tate.
Read the full review: Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard
Wedding size: 20-110
Best for… boutique: Ham Yard Hotel
The rooftop is a quirky space for an intimate wedding, with its Indonesian art installations, outdoor beds fashioned from upcycled railway sleepers and vegetable garden salvaged from a previous Chelsea Flower Show. You can save your money on the DJ; imagine guests sipping on thyme and blackberry margaritas to the hum of the resident bees. The retro candlelit bowling alley downstairs is a fun, charismatic venue for cooler months. A zingy-patterned Terrace Suite, which has its own powder room, and outdoor lounging space with city vistas, is a fetching choice for the wedding night.
Wedding size: 22-75 guests
Read the full review: Ham Yard Hotel
Best for… pampering: Corinthia Hotel London
Brides and grooms are preened to look the part as they strut across the stuccoed ballroom at London's leading spa hotel. A spa session in a wellness suite designed for couples is encrusted with black mosaics and includes a mud ritual and personalised treatment (for faces rougher than a tumble-dried flannel in the run up to the big day, it has to be the ESPA facial). Brides can book with the resident make-up artist in the private Hollywood-inspired parlour. Celebrity hairdresser Daniel Galvin OBE, working from his on-site salon, can also work his magic on bridal hair. The rooftop penthouse is worth nabbing if only for the photo ops in front of the London Eye.
Wedding size: 25-250 guests
Read the full review: Corinthia Hotel London
Best for… royal connections: The Goring and The Ritz
The Queen has bestowed just two hotels with a Royal Warrant: The Goring and the Ritz. Brides-to-be can stay over in the former’s Royal Suite, where Kate Middleton spent her last night as a commoner. Walls are clad in the same green silk that enveloped the first-class dining room of the Titanic; in the rainshower, a life-sized portrait of Queen Victoria. The Ritz hosts weddings in its own adjoining palladian townhouse formerly owned by the Duke of Beaufort, with its Grand Hall of period frescoes, and plush red dining room, Renaissance-inspired ceilings inlaid with gold leaf.
Goring: 20-100 guests; The Ritz: 100-200 guests
Best for... a modern wedding: Sanderson
For those who’d prefer to pose for their wedding pictures on Salvador Dali sofa lips, or sprawled on a purple billiard table. No London hotel does surreal sex appeal like the capital’s original design boutique by Ian Schrager. The Courtyard with white-blossomed tree and Japanese rockery can host receptions (the Mad Hatter’s cocktail afternoon tea with ‘marshmallow magic mushrooms’ makes a quirky alternative); couples can also book the adjoining Daz-white Long Bar with its vine-twisted ceilings and Amalfi Coast aperitivos; think giardino Italiano meets God’s waiting room according to Hollywood.
Wedding size: 30-235 guests
Read the full review: Sanderson
Best for... a big wedding: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Recapture the great balls of the Roaring Twenties with a blowout party in this Art Deco icon’s sprawling Silver Gallery. This is a venue with moxie: chandeliers resemble fountains and Palladium leaf walls shimmer in platinum. The 90-year-old sunburst cornicing has been painstakingly restored. Couples enjoy their first dance on the sprung maple dance floor the size of two basketball courts, as guests look on from up in the galleries. Afterwards, bride and groom can retreat to the Grand Suite, which overlooks the plane trees of Green Park and comes with its owned manned cocktail bar.
Wedding size: 500-1200 guests
Read the full review: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Best for… a winter wedding: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
A 'monument of confectionary' is how one critic described this most deliciously over-elaborate of Britain’s great railway hotels upon its opening in 1872. With its Neo-Gothic facade weighed down with convoluted carvings, and interiors clad in coloured marble, it still epitomises Victorian taste for sensory overload. Thickly embellished fireplaces and rich fleur-de-lis wallpaper create a stirring atmosphere for a wedding in colder months. Afterwards, couples can hole up in the royal Suite – set in the former ballroom – or the more intimate Sir John Betjeman Suite with original mullion stone window and soaking tub.
Wedding size: 50-350 guests
Read the full review: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
Best for… a hipster wedding: Town Hall Hotel
What better backdrop to a waxed-moustache wedding than this East End gaff’s old council chamber: restored teak pews are lined with soft, ageing leather. Apricot-hued sunlight pours in through the windows stained with coats of arms. Sit-down dinners are high protein, presumably to please a younger guest list comprised of tattoo-ankled gym addicts (guinness-braised beef; pigs cheeks) and dessert options like chocolate trifle with candy hazelnuts are amusingly retro. The hotel’s flagship triple-floor suite has more stucco than a Russian oligarch’s double basement, grand piano, and wine-cup-clutching sculpture by Henry Poole.
Wedding size: 20-200 guests
Read the full review: Town Hall Hotel
Best for… food: The Connaught and One Aldwych Hotel
Culinary heavyweight Hélène Darroze does Oscietra-caviar-smeared wedding sittings in her gold-leafed double-Michelin-starred restaurant at the Connaught. The menu can be a little oil tycoonish, with beef of the Wagyu variety, and black truffle used as a salt substitute; the most exciting are dishes, like Périgord pigeon are playful riffs on Darroze’s Landean roots. Those with tighter budget might consider Eneko at One Aldwych Hotel for a zany Basque menu, served with theatre (the Memories of the Bay of Biscay starter served on a tray of smoking dry ice will guests twitching for their iPhones).
Wedding size at The Connaught: 20-200 guests; One Aldwych: 15-150 guests
Best for…. summer: The Bingham
London hotels with green spaces are rare. Which makes the vast, herb-fringed gardens at this swish Richmond address right on the River Thames all the more covetable. Wedding ceremonies can take place in the Garden rooms, which look out to pear trees and pop-coloured snapdragons, or exchange humanist vows on the garden surrounded by foxgloves and flowering thistles, and flanked by the river rushing beyond. Garden barbecues are popular, as are sit-down banquets featuring produce from the garden. The Baudelaire room makes a sensual bridal suite, a copper tub evocative of a smutty Victorian drama, and Georgian bay window looking out to the Thames.
Wedding size: 90-120 guests
Read the full review: The Bingham
This article was written by content editor, columnist and Sherelle Jacobs from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].