I'm planning a trip to London and am surprised to find that some 5-star hotels are cheaper, better located, and better rated than some 4-star hotels. I was thinking of staying in one however, I am worried that my typical jeans and a t-shirt look might be too informal for them and I'd be turned away or frowned upon. Is there a dress code for 5-star hotels in London? Will jeans and a t-shirt be ok?

Note: I'm only talking about the hotel itself, not the restaurant.

  • 1
    I've stayed in a couple (tagging along with my spouse on business trips), my usual dress is clean and neat "business casual" at best and didn't feel out of place and everyone seemed genuinely polite and helpful, and even expressed mild and sincere concern when they found out my next destination. Keep in mind that every extra in a top end hotel will be very expensive. Laundry prices, for example, will likely be eye-wateringly high. Jun 16, 2022 at 21:39
  • 26
    I think it's worth saying, the British star-rating system is mostly concerned about hotel features rather than perceived exclusivity. Of course, hotels that claim exclusivity (with a price tag to match) are most likely to offer the features that make them five-star hotels, but this is not necessarily always the case.
    – Matt Dunn
    Jun 17, 2022 at 8:04
  • 3
    Experience from Berlin, Germany: Older hotels, especially those with a history might tend to be a bit more snobby. Still, nobody would kick you out for wearing clean jeans & tshirt. You'd be surprised how many rich people wear those ;-) In my opinion far more important about how people judge you, is your attitude towards staff and circumstances.
    – Erik
    Jun 17, 2022 at 14:31
  • 1
    I have been led to believe that a hotel's star is based on it's facilities, not it's exclusivity. Jun 17, 2022 at 14:56
  • 3
    Not for guests, there isn't. What made you think there might be? Jun 17, 2022 at 22:37

5 Answers 5


Unless your hotel reservation email contains a warning with foot high red letters about dress code you will not be turned away, no matter what. It's a contract and it's complete non-performance in this case with appropriate remedies. Also, if the press would hear of such there would be blood. It is unthinkable.

Consider this scenario: it's 4am and your room is noisy or cold. Are you going to put on black tie to go down to the desk to complain? Rules are rules...

Frowned upon is the default face of the Brits. Disregard.

  • 4
    Right, but this doesn't mean you may be uncomfortable on such situation. For the price of a 5-star hotel, if one cannot fully enjoy the ambience and service (and feeling accepted), it is just waste of money. Note: for hotel should not be a problem, but to enter on the bar or the hotel restaurant, you may need to dress more (OTOH in London you have so many alternatives) Jun 17, 2022 at 8:46
  • 25
    @GiacomoCatenazzi If you truly want to fit in in an upper-class environment, you should sail through life completely convinced that whatever you are doing/wearing/saying is correct and anyone who disagrees with you is absolutely wrong. Someone complains that you are walking around in basically your underwear (chemise a la reine)? Let them eat cake. Jun 17, 2022 at 14:09
  • 23
    Absolutely; in an exclusive top-end London hotel, someone extremely scruffy but 100% confident might be assumed to be the spoilt offspring of an oligarch / sheik / mogul / aristocrat, and handled with extreme care. Someone dressed perfectly but looking nervous might be disregarded as probably an average person who won a competition. Jun 17, 2022 at 15:45
  • 4
    If you have to go down to the desk to complain about the room conditions, rather than just call them on the phone that's in every room, I don't think you're in a 5-star hotel. Heck, even 1-star hotels probably have that. Jun 17, 2022 at 16:06
  • 3
    @AaronF Actually, four of them! Jun 18, 2022 at 16:56

In most hotels, as long as you are decent and clean, you shouldn't have any issues.

My standard outfit is sneakers, jeans and a polo shirt, and I've spent way too much time in the bars and restaurants of 5-star hotels during the years I lived in London, so I would know if it was an issue. In some cases you may yourself feel slightly out of place because many other people are dressed more smartly than you, but that's about it. Sometimes one bar or restaurant in the hotel may have a stricter dress code, or there may be specific recurring events where something specific may be required or expected, but this will usually be made quite clear, and limited in scope.

Believe it or not, I know restaurants in Hawaii with stricter dress codes than nearly any place I've been to in London.

Note however that flip-flops, shorts, and a sleeveless t-shirt may be over the line, though I never tried that so I can't really say.

There is one exception I know of, though (there may be others): the Ritz. Don't remember if it was a no-sneakers or no-jeans rule, but they didn't want my business. Too bad for them, the Dorchester got my money :-)

Just for reference, private member's clubs are a very different story, but you would need to be invited, and whoever invites you will usually make the rules clear to you.

  • 10
    Let's emphasize here: even the Ritz only has rules for the bars and restaurants. The answerer lived in London so this answer doesn't cover the hotel itself...
    – user4188
    Jun 17, 2022 at 0:28
  • 2
    I've never been to London, but what OP points out in his question, that 5* hotels often have room prices making them attractive to casual tourists, is common in many cities at least around Europe and also causes them to actually attract casual tourists. They tend not to care much about dress code. I would assume that not even flip-flops, shorts and sleeveless t-shirts are considered out of the line in most 5* hotels. Jun 17, 2022 at 9:47
  • 6
    You might get funny looks from the door staff if you turn up in very shabby clothes and don't look like a guest/tourist (e.g. no luggage); they may even speak to you to ensure you really stay there, although they're normally quite good at telling guests from non-guests. But yes, if you've paid/have a room, they're not going to refuse you. (I suspect the dress codes in Hawaii are because in beach resorts people are likely to go straight from beach to hotel/restaurant without changing or covering up, while in London that's not going to happen.)
    – Stuart F
    Jun 17, 2022 at 11:11
  • 6
    @StuartF That's why whenever I turn up at a 5 star hotel in my ripped jeans, disheveled hair and smelling of booze and smoke, I make sure to use the Rolls and have my chauffeur open the car door for me. Doing so does wonders for how the hotel staff treat you.
    – Peter M
    Jun 17, 2022 at 13:33
  • 3
    @chx Specifically at the Ritz, rules don't apply if you pay enough.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 17, 2022 at 13:45

Generally, no. They'd have to make you very, very aware if it were to the contrary.

I've turned up to several over the years from heavy metal concerts with running eye liner, beer soaked clothes and leather jackets covered in 2" long metal spikes.

The only time you might run into trouble is if you turn up in such a state that they'd be concerned about the state of their carpets. Even then, they're more likely to politely ask you to change your shoes than turn you away entirely.

Nobody will care, they've all seen everything a million times before.

Don't try and go into the hotel restaurants/bars if you're in a state though, they often do have dress codes. Although it's extremely rare for it to be enforced to a stricter standard than smart-casual.

  1. The literal answer to your headline question is, no, there's no dress code per se. Go for it. Heaps of "ordinary normal travellers" do just what you say.

  2. The only thing that matters in London is money - end of story.

  3. Will you be "frowned upon" by the staff ... You know - like in a bad movie, where the posh "concierge" will "look down their nose at you" and "sneer". No. Why would anyone bother? The staff are just minimum wage workers who commute three hours and put on cheesy uniforms and pray every day for big tips. If you are rich, you'll feel yourself enveloped in love and care. If you are not rich, you'll be treated perfectly normally and no thought will be given to you one way or the other, and after a couple days you'll leave.

  4. Will you be "frowned upon" by the other guests? Yes. By (say) half the guests. Nouveau-riche idiots.

  5. Note that there's a distinct difference between "the hotel" (so, checking in, wandering around, etc) and "restaurants - bars". Really, nobody cares that much what you wear "in the hotel". After all, folks travel in rough clothes etc. But if (for some bad reason) you decide to waste thousands at the (garbage) restaurants in London's expensive hotels, yeah, you'll feel totally out of place unless you have (as many commentors have pointed out) the "rich brat look".


Generally in the UK there are very few dress rules, other than at a few traditional events like Glyndebourne, Ascot, and Henley Regatta. There might still be a few hotels that ask you not to wear shorts or trainers at dinner, but I haven't come across them (most of their guests will be tourists, dressed as typical tourists). Even at concerts and theatres, anything goes (perhaps not at the Opera). If you're worried about other people looking at you oddly, the biggest risk of that is if you go on the tube in formal evening dress - but I've done that, and survived.

I think it's about 25 years since anyone imagined that they could tell your class, status, or wealth from the way you dressed. If you see someone wearing black tie, they're probably a waiter.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .