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A Guide To Hotels In London
From its rich history and diverse museums, to its quirky bars and west-end musicals, there is so much to see and do in London that a daytrip just doesn't cut it, so at least staying one night will help you make the most of exploring our incredible capital city. But did you know there is estimated to be over 120,000 hotels in London and over 70,000 of those are within 10 kilometres of central London? With so much choice of accommodation, ranging from budget hotel chains like Ibis and Premier Inn, to luxury boutique hotels like the five star Ritz or Corinthia hotels, it's hard to know where to stay and who to stay with, so here is out guide
Where To Stay In London
If you're visiting London to explore its main sights and attractions, then a hotel in central London is likely to be what you're after, however, this can also mean paying a slight premium for the privilege. Within zone one, you've got a range of locations to choose from and wherever you stay, you'll be within easy reach of an underground station or at least a bus stop.
If you want to be in the thick of it, hotels near Leicester Square and Piccadilly are likely to cost you a bit more, but do mean you don't have to trek far if you need a cheeky afternoon nap, or don't want far to go after a night out. There are still plenty of budget options in this area of London including The Z Hotel, Soho and hub by Premier Inn, in Covent Garden, both well-rated hotels without having to spend a fortune.
Hotels Near Mainline Stations
If you're arriving by train, a hotel close to the London station that you arrive at is a good choice, as you will be able to leave your bag with the hotels reception desk when you arrive if you are too early to check-in, or if you need to check-out but still want the whole day to explore London without lugging around a backpack or holdall. There are a number of great hotels around Paddington, Euston, King's Cross and Waterloo stations.
The areas of Hyde Park, Kensington and Paddington have a good number of hotels on offer. These areas of central london are close enough to be in Piccadilly Circus or Covent Garden within 15 minutes, yet not so central you feel like you're staying on top of everyone. Staying at a hotel near Hyde Park is also a great idea in summer if you're after chilling out in the sunshine, or long evening strolls in the park on your trip.
Further out west and you'll be looking at areas such as Hammersmith, Ealing and Wembley. Wembley is, of course, a great location if you're in London to watch a match or concert at the impressive Wembley Stadium. Relatively easy access into central London but with some hotels not costing quite so much, West London offers more of a 'local living' feel when staying in London. If you like the idea of renting an apartment through companies like of Airbnb or Home And Away, accommodation in West London could be a great option.
Canary Wharf, part of London's financial area, is busy during the week, with office workers heading out and about, but at weekends, this area of London becomes quieter, and that means that hotels in Canary Wharf will sometimes offer discounts to ensure they welcome guests throughout the full week, not just Monday to Friday.
The area does boast a range of bars and restaurants, with a small shopping mall as well, however, situated on the Docklands Light Railway and Jubilee lines, travelling into central London doesn't take long. A 15 minute journey on the DLR will see you arrive at Tower Bridge, the closest underground station to visit the impressive Tower of London and Tower Bridge, with access to the popular TFL Riverboat services.
Once known as a bit of a dodgy part of town, East London has become more and more gentrified over the years, to the point where it's actually cool to stay in some areas. Shoreditch offers a number of hotels, ranging from the cool and quirky like the Hoxton Hotel, to the cheap and cheerful Travelodges.
Of course, when the London Olympics were held in 2012, there was a great rush to redesign and rebuild Stratford, while adding in a number of accommodation options. The Olympic Park is perfect on a lovely summer's day, with a visit to the Orbitz and Olympic Stadiums a must. Hotels in Stratford also don't cost a fortune compared to central London, so the likes of the Holiday Inn Express and Premier Inn will help you stay on a budget. To get to central London, take the mainline train into Liverpool Street, or the Central or Jubilee lines which both run through the heart of the city.
South London isn't as accessible as other areas of London with many locations utilising mainline trains rather than the underground, however you may find some great hotel bargains in South London. Areas like Clapham are popular residential areas, while much of South London is being developed and becoming more gentrified. Places like Croydon and Streatham are being developed which includes hotel offerings. If heading south, just be aware of the additional zones to pay for when travelling around.
Types Of Hotel In London
Hotels to 'WOW' you
For some, a trip to London is a romantic getaway, to enjoy a birthday present, or to pop the magic question. If this is you, then you'll be wanting your hotel to 'wow' you. How about a roof top pre dinner drink at the likes of the ME by Melia Hotel near Covent Garden, or perhaps you’d just like to make sure you're able to celebrity spot at one of London's most glamorous hotels? Other impressive hotels include the views, of course. Try the Park Plaza at Westminster Bridge and upgrade your room to a view of Big Ben or better still, the London Hilton on Park Lane, with its views across Hyde Park and out to the west of London.
Family Friendly Hotels
If you're visiting with your family, you'll want a family friendly hotel in London and there are some great ones to choose from. While many hotels will offer things like roll away beds, one or two hotels go that extra mile for the little ones, which can make the trip far more exciting for the kids, and much more enjoyable for you. From the slightly pricey Brown's Hotel, offering children's themed bedsheets and toys, to the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, which offers children's entertainment, children's afternoon tea and mini scooters to go and explore Hyde Park on.
Hotels With Spas
For those looking to relax while visiting, a spa hotel in London could be great option, especially if it's a romantic stay you planning. For those on a budget there are a number of hotels in and around London which have spas including the K West Hotel which offers inexpensive spa break packages. If you can stretch the budget (probably quite a bit) there are some incredible spa hotels in London including the opulent ESPA at Corinthia, voted Europe's best spa, or The May Fair Hotel.
Of course, if you're on a budget but still want to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment, book a cheap hotel in central London and then book a treatment at a nearby spa or beauty salon, there are plenty in London to choose from. For something central, pair the Premier Inn Leicester Square with Katia's Beauty at Tomoyuki & Co on Oxford Street.
No accommodation list is ever complete without naming (and sometimes shaming) a number of unique and quirky hotels, and London is certainly no exception. Why not enjoy an overnight stay on a narrow boat along one of the city's various canals, or the Sunborn yacht hotel in the Docklands area. Or for something really different try booking a stay at the Gir Lion Lodge at ZSL London Zoo which offers a truly unforgettable experience including access to the zoo, after-hours tours of the zoo, as well as dinner and breakfast.
Things To Do In London
There really is so much to see and do in London. You'll probably want to stay central to be close to the city's various sights and attractions. For those who love shopping, the central shopping areas of Oxford Street, Covent Garden and Carnaby Street will keep you busy.
For those in town to explore the city's unique attractions, the London Eye offers 360 degree views of London, as does the Shard near London Bridge. Head to Buckingham Palace and St James' Park to see the home of the Queen and to feed the ducks, or a trip to Southbank and walk to The Houses of Parliament will allow you to get some great shots of Big Ben.
If you're a keen photographer, Southbank is a great place to start your explorations. At Westminster Bridge, photos of Big Ben at sunset are great on a clear day, while heading back towards London Bridge will offer some classic shots of old and new with St Paul's Cathedral and the Millenium Bridge.
For those seeking out some history, head further east along the river, cross over at London Bridge and see Monument remembering the great fire of London. Walk east again and you find the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Home to the Crown Jewels and an important part of London's history, this area of the city is great for exploring.
Getting Around London
Staying central is great if you can find a good deal, but sometimes it's cheaper to stay in the suburbs, or your staying there anyway and want to explore the city. Depending on how often you are going to travel around, and how often you are in London, depends on what sort of ticket you should buy. The TFL Oyster cars can be prepaid and topped up, capping fares if you travel a certain amount within a specific time frame. Alternatively, you can now use contactless on buses, underground lines and trains within the TFL zones, and Gatwick airport has become the latest addition for this. It will also cap fares provided you use the same contactless credit or debit card on your journeys.
How To Get A Great Hotel Deal In London
London isn't the cheapest of cities to explore, especially if you're staying overnight, so it's important to grab a great hotel deal when you can. There are a number of companies which have some great hotel offers so it's always worth keeping an eye out throughout the year if you know you want to visit. The January sales are a great time to start looking for deals, and the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is also a good time to keep an eye out. Hotels also have distressed inventory, particularly at quieter times of the year, so last minute hotel deals may also be an option if you've got the upcoming weekend free and you want to do something with it.