Booking your accommodation in advance is recommended, especially in summer, at weekends and on islands (where options are often limited). Book at least two months ahead for July and August.
B&Bs These small, family-run houses generally provide good value. More luxurious versions are similar to a boutique hotel.
Hotels English hotels range from half a dozen rooms above a pub to restored country houses and castles, with a commensurate range of rates.
Hostels There's a good choice of both institutional and independent hostels, many housed in rustic and/or historic buildings.
B&Bs & Guesthouses
The (bed and breakfast) B&B is a great English institution. At smaller places it's pretty much a room in somebody's house; larger places may be called a 'guesthouse' (halfway between a B&B and a full hotel). Prices start from around £40 per person for a simple bedroom and shared bathroom; for around £45 to £55 per person you get a private bathroom, either down the hall or en suite.
In cities, some B&Bs are for long‑term residents or people on welfare; they don't take passing tourists. In country areas, most B&Bs cater for walkers and cyclists, but some don't, so let them know if you'll be turning up with dirty boots or wheels.
When booking, check where your B&B actually is. In country areas, postal addresses include the nearest town, which may be 20 miles away – important if you're walking! Some B&B owners will pick you up by car for a small charge.
Prices Usually quoted per person, based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms for solo travellers are harder to find, and attract a 20% to 50% premium. Some B&Bs simply won't take single people (unless you pay the full double-room price), especially in summer.
Booking Advance reservations are preferred at B&Bs and are essential during popular periods. You can book many B&Bs via online agencies but rates may be cheaper if you book directly. If you haven't booked in advance, most towns have a main drag of B&Bs; those with spare rooms hang up a 'Vacancies' sign. Many B&Bs require a minimum two-night stay on weekends. Some places reduce rates for longer stays (two or three nights) midweek. If a B&B is full, owners may recommend another place nearby (possibly a private house taking occasional guests, not in tourist listings).
Food Most B&Bs serve enormous breakfasts; some offer packed lunches (around £6) and evening meals (around £15 to £20).
Bunkhouses & Camping Barns
A bunkhouse in England is a simple place, usually in country areas, with a communal sleeping area and a bathroom, plus stoves for self-catering. You provide a sleeping bag and possibly cooking gear. Most charge around £12 to £15 per person per night.
Camping barns are even more basic: usually converted farm buildings. Take everything you’d need to camp except the tent. Charges are from around £6 to £10 per person.
Campsites range from farmers' fields with a tap and basic toilet, costing from £5 per person per night, to smarter affairs with hot showers and many other facilities, charging up to £15. You usually need all your own kit.
A few campsites also offer self-catering accommodation in chalets, caravans, tepees, yurts and stylish wooden camping 'pods', often dubbed 'glamping'.
If you're touring Britain with a tent or campervan (motorhome), consider joining the Camping & Caravanning Club (www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk), which provides up to 30% discount on its sites for an annual membership fee of £37. The club owns almost 100 campsites and lists thousands more in the invaluable Big Sites Book (free to members).
There are two types of hostel in England: those run by the Youth Hostel Association (YHA; www.yha.org.uk), and independent hostels. Most are listed in the Independent Hostel Guide (www.independenthostelguide.co.uk).
Hostels can be found in rural areas, towns and cities, and are aimed at all types of traveller, young and old. Some hostels are converted cottages, country houses and even castles – often in wonderful locations. Sleeping is usually in dormitories; some hostels also have twin or four-bed rooms.
The simplest YHA hostels cost around £13 to £17 per person per night. Larger hostels with more facilities are £18 to £30. London's YHA hostels cost from £32. Advance bookings and payments with credit card are usually possible.
You don't have to be a member of the YHA (or another Hostelling International organisation) to stay, but most hostels charge extra if you're not a member (£3 at YHA hostels), so it's usually worth joining. Annual YHA membership costs £20; people aged under 26 and families get discounts.
Most hostel prices vary according to demand and season. Book early for a Tuesday night in May and you'll get the best rate. Book late for a weekend in August and you'll pay top price – if there's space at all. We have generally quoted the cheaper rates (in line with those listed on the YHA's website); you may find yourself paying more.
YHA hostels tend to have complicated opening times and days, especially in remote locations or out of tourist season, so check before turning up.
In rural areas some independent hostels are little more than simple bunkhouses (charging around £13), or almost up to B&B standard (£20 or more). In cities, independent backpacker hostels are usually aimed at young budget travellers. Most are open 24 hours, with a lively atmosphere, a range of rooms (doubles or dorms), a bar, a cafe, a laundry and wi-fi. Prices go from around £20 for a dorm bed to £40 for a bed in a private room.
There’s a massive choice of hotels in England, from small town houses to grand country mansions, from no-frills locations to boutique hideaways. At the bargain end, single/double rooms cost from £45/60. Move up the scale and you'll pay £100/150 or beyond.
If all you want is a place to put your head down, budget chain hotels can be a good option. Most are lacking in ambience, but who cares? You’ll only be there for 12 hours, and for eight of them you’ll be asleep. Prices vary on demand: at quiet times twin-bed rooms start from £40; at the height of the tourist season you'll pay £60 or more. Options include Ibis Hotels, Premier Inn and Travelodge.
A popular English holiday option is renting a houseboat on one of England’s picturesque waterways, combining accommodation and transport for a few days or a week.
Pubs & Inns
As well as selling drinks, many pubs and inns offer lodging, particularly in country areas. For bed and breakfast, you’ll pay from £30 per person for a basic room, around £45 for something better. An advantage for solo tourists: pubs often have single rooms.
If you want to stay in one place, renting for a week can be ideal. Choose from neat apartments in cities or quaint old houses (always called ‘cottages’, whatever the size) in country areas. Cottages for four people cost upwards of about £300 in high season. Rates fall at quieter times and you may be able to rent for a long weekend.
During holidays, many universities offer accommodation to visitors. You usually get a functional single bedroom, and self-catering flats are also available. Prices cost £25 to £60 per person.