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When it comes to hotel openings, 2013 is turning out to be an exciting year for London. The Great Northern Hotel, a new boutique establishment spitting distance from St. Pancras International Station, has been welcoming guests for around six weeks now. The building dates back to 1854, when the first incarnation of the Great Northern Hotel opened at the peak of the age of steam. All 91 rooms – which come in three sizes, 'Couchette', 'Wainscott' and 'Cubitt' – have flat screen TVs, Nespresso coffee machines and either walk-in showers or roll-top bathtubs (complete with products from Malin + Goetz). Guests are also welcome to complimentary snacks, newspapers and magazines from a fully stocked pantry on each floor. The GNH Bar, with its sleek 1920s design, has been getting good reviews.
An even more recent opening (June 1) is The Nadler Soho, an affordable boutique hotel that's perfect for visitors to London who want to be at the heart of the action. This is the hotel group's second London property, following the opening of The Nadler Kensington (formerly known as base2stay) in 2005. The 78 rooms range from petite singles up to the spacious Carlisle Suite, with its fantastic views over Soho Square. The Nadler hotels are the first in the UK to offer the Newspapers Direct app, which allows guests to download their choice of over 2,300 international newspapers in 55 languages to their devices for free.
The most exciting hotel launch of the year, however, is still to come. This autumn/winter will see the opening of The Shangri-La at The Shard. It will be the group's first UK property, and about time too. Averaging around 42 square metres, the hotel's 202 rooms will be some of the largest in London. Amenities include heated floors in all the bathrooms, special 'body-contouring' beds, and butlers in all suites, but of course the hotel's biggest draw will be the extraordinary views from the tallest building in Western Europe. An infinity pool and 24-hour gym on level 52, restaurant and lounge on level 35 and bar on level 52 complete the picture.
As one of the most visited cities in the world, there are accommodation options opening and closing on a consistent basis in London. However, when it comes to those major, newsworthy openings, there are usually only a handful each year. Here are three of the biggest for 2013.
The Great Northern Hotel, King's Cross
Originally opened in the mid-19th century, the Great Northern Hotel was the first purpose-built hotel in London, created alongside the capital's King's Cross train station. And in 2013, after a mammoth 12-year refurbishment, it has reopened, offering 91 luxury bedrooms, along with a large restaurant and bar. Best of all, it's easily accessible from the Eurostar station St. Pancras International, which means it's an ideal place to stay on a weekend visit from mainland Europe.
Shangri-La Hotel, Southwark
The Shard, which is the tallest building in the EU, has been officially open since February 2013. But it is only in May that one of its main tenants also opens; one that will occupy a total of 18 floors in its spire. The first Shangri-La Hotel in the UK, it will offer 195 rooms, 170 deluxe guestrooms, 25 suites and a luxury CHI spa – among other things. It's set to be one of the biggest openings in the capital.
The Old Fire Station, Marylebone
The boutique hotel that has everyone talking. The developer, André Balazs, owns a string of iconic hotels in the United States, from The Mercer Hotel in New York to Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, but this is his first European project. This Grade II-listed former fire station is currently being converted into a deluxe and exclusive 33-bedroom boutique hotel, and it's slated to open toward the end of 2013.
New hotels are opening in London all the time, and 2013 is no exception with international big hitters opening up outposts and once-grand abodes reopening their doors. Check in to one of these top three new hotels to check out how London keeps itself at the forefront of the luxury hotel scene.
ME by Melia
This much-anticipated new opening from the Spanish Melia chain was designed by the award-winning Foster + Partners and sits on the site of the BBC's first building, from which they made their first ever music broadcast. As an homage the rooftop bar is called Radio, and features panoramic views over the city. Sleek American steakhouse chain STK have opened their first restaurant outside the US here too, and rooms are sumptuous with spa-like rainfall showers.
Great Northern Hotel
This Kings Cross landmark first opened its doors in 1854, its slender curved brick exterior designed and built by Victorian master architect Lewis Cubitt. After decades of closure, this wonderful building has been fully revamped and modernised, reopening in April. Rooms are elegant, with an abudance of natural light and a timeless Farrow & Ball colour palette, while the GNH bar combines sleek 1920s Art Deco with Belle Epoque glamour.
You know what you're getting with Shangri-La, and that what you're getting will be great. This brand new luxury hotel will occupy the spire of the Shard, London's newest landmark, and offer truly opulent rooms with unique views of the city.