Craig says… If you want something cheap try Victoria/Pimlico, Bayswater/Paddington, and Earl’s Court/Kensington. You should be able to find plenty of B&Bs, 1★, 2★ and 3★ hotels there. The nicest areas are Victoria, Paddington, Bayswater and then Pimlico (in that order).
Mid-priced 3★ hotels can be found all over London – you can even get some in the West End (the area around Piccadilly Circus, Soho and Covent Garden). Despite being in the centre of town there are a surprisingly high number of mid-priced hotels there. Of course they all come with shoebox rooms as standard, but you can’t be too fussy if you want something cheap and central.
Here’s my rule of thumb: Don’t stay anywhere further east than Tower Bridge. I wouldn’t go any further west than the Royal Albert Hall either, or north of the Marylebone/Euston Road, and south London begins and ends in Bankside and Southwark as far as I’m concerned – anything further south than those may as well not exist.
This should be taken as a rough guide only because several different companies have the power to hand out star ratings and they all use different criteria.
Hostels – £25 to £40 – Although it’s certainly possible to find a private room in some London hostels, you’re much more likely to be sleeping in a dormitory for 2-12. There will be no in-room facilities (so no TV, telephone or hairdryer). The toilet, shower and kitchen will be shared. A lot of modern hostels now have a breakfast room or restaurant where you can buy ready-cooked meals.
B&B hotels – £35 to £80 – Small hotels with breakfast included in the price. They probably won’t have a proper restaurant, only a small breakfast room. Rooms will have either an ensuite bathroom or a shared bathroom that you can access with a key. If it’s not ensuite then you’ll probably have a sink in the room instead. Most B&Bs also provide a kettle, TV and telephone in the room.
1★ hotels – £30 to £60 – Okay for a couple of night’s sleep, but the rooms will be the smaller than a shoebox and have a shared bathroom that you can access with a key. You might get a sink and a TV in the room, or you might not. You might get a kettle and a hairdryer, or you might not. The lobby might have a small breakfast room if you’re lucky, or more likely a vending machine in the corridor.
2★ hotels – £30 to £110 – The bedroom will probably have an ensuite bathroom, or possibly a shared one down the hall. The rooms will probably have a TV, hairdryer, kettle, but you’ll probably have to request the iron from reception. The safe will probably be in reception as well. The hotel should definitely have a breakfast room, and might also have a restaurant for lunch and dinner.
3★ hotels – £100 to £200 – Good quality rooms with an ensuite bathroom, kettle, telephone and TV. You might get Wi-Fi for a charge. You might get a minibar. You should get a safe. There will definitely be a bar and a breakfast room, and they might serve lunch and dinner as well. Many of the 3-star hotels are very centrally located, and it’s possible to find a few right in the centre of town.
4★ hotels – £130 to £280 – As above, but with a good-quality bar and restaurant. Rooms will be quite spacious (although in my experience some 4-star hotels seem a lot like 3-stars). They will probably have a minibar and room service. You might get complimentary Wi-Fi, or you might have to pay for it. The hotel will have business facilities and concierge services, and maybe a little gym attached. It might even have a car park.
5★ hotels – £260 to £520 – As above, but with larger rooms. They will probably have a couple of different bars and restaurants inside the hotel to give you a choice. They will probably offer a few of these: gym, sauna, spa, swimming pool, in-room massages, business facilities, valet parking, limo service and laundry, and maybe a turn-down service as well. You’ll also get 24-hour room service.