London is a notoriously expensive destination, but you can save some money by staying in more basic 2 and 3 star hotels. The area around Victoria Station is central, and has hotels that won’t break your budget.
“Cheap hotel” is a relative term. If you’re after five-star London accommodation with all the amenities, then you’ll pay through the nose ($300+ per night). London prices can be a bit of a shock to anyone with frugal tendencies.
However, if you don’t mind accommodation that’s basic (but still central), then you might consider concentrating your search around Victoria Station, SW. Victoria has loads of cheap hotels and guesthouses, most of them 2 and 3 star. The area around the station isn’t pretty, but it’s very central and a major transport hub, so all the popular tourist attractions are within easy reach. The average price for a two star hotel in this area is about $80 US a night for a double room.
In most other cities these privately owned (ie. non-chain) hotels would be considered expensive for what you’re getting. But this is London. The hotels around Victoria Station are central, basic, and generally clean, if a bit Shabby. They survive because many tourists to the UK begin to suffer from extreme sticker shock and get to a point where they absolutely refuse pay out any more money. For anything. You often hear them muttering to themselves in coffee and sandwich shops. “TEN POUNDS for a cup of coffee and a sandwich…!”
Just remember that location is everything in London. You can easily walk to Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, Piccadilly, and Buckingham Palace from Victoria. Oxford Street, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, and the South Bank are about 10 minutes away on the bus.
There are tourist accommodation kiosks in Victoria station which will book you into hotels in the area, if you feel like taking a chance and just turning up. But don’t depend on them still being open if your plane lands late:
The British Hotel Reservation Centre will organize hotels and B&B reservations in London and elsewhere in the UK.
Lastminute.com has two kiosks in Victoria station. They can arrange hostel, hotel and B&B accommodation, and might be able to get you a really good deal, as they can offer rooms that hotels are desperate to fill.
Check out Hotel.com for London hotel deals. It’s a big website and should be able to source good discounts. You can sort the London listings by price, and hotels around Victoria always feature somewhere in the lower range (right after the youth hostels). You might also try doing a Google search for “Victoria SW1 Hotel”. Failing that, another good website is londonnet.co.uk, which lists cheap London hotels and also has listings for bed and breakfast accommodation.
Once you get over the fact that London is ruinously expensive, you’re sure to have a wonderful time. Remember that you’re trading luxury for the chance to spend more pennies on local ale in the pub. You’ll be asleep from the instant your head hits the hotel pillow anyway, so concentrate your money and your attention on your conscious hours. London’s a world-class city. Go out and discover why for yourself.
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