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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.
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.
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