Hanging your hat (or anything else you care to remove) in London can be painfully expensive, and you’ll almost always need to book well in advance. Decent hostels are easy to find but aren't as cheap as you might hope for. Hotels range from no-frills chains through to the world's most ritzy establishments, such as the Ritz itself. B&Bs are often better value and more atmospheric than hotels.

Hotels

London has a grand roll call of stately hotels and many are experiences in their own right. Standards at the top end are high, but so are the prices. Quirkiness and individuality can be found in abundance, alongside dyed-in-the-wool traditionalism. While a rung or two down in overall quality and charm, midrange chain hotels generally offer good locations and dependable comfort. A new trend is for smart hotels with tiny but well-designed rooms and larger communal spaces for spreading out in; prices often start extremely reasonably for these but rise sharply for last-minute bookings. Demand can often outstrip supply – especially on the bottom step of the market – so book ahead, particularly during holiday periods and in summer.

B&Bs

Bed and breakfasts generally come in at a tier below hotels, often promising boutique-style charm and a more personal level of service. Handy B&B clusters appear in Paddington, South Kensington, Victoria and Bloomsbury.

Hostels

Generally the cheapest form of accommodation, hostels can be both an affordable and a sociable option. They vary widely in quality, so choose carefully. Those with a reputation as party hostels can be a lot of fun, but don't expect to get much sleep. As well as dorm rooms, many also offer twin and double rooms, sometimes with en suite bathrooms. These private rooms are often better than what you'd get for an equivalent price in a budget hotel.

Apartment Rentals

If you’re in London for a week or more, a short-term or serviced apartment may make sense. They usually come with cooking and laundry facilities, and rates at the bottom end are comparable to a B&B. At the top end are luxurious pads you may never want to leave.

Student Digs

During university holidays (generally mid-March to late April, late June to September, and mid-December to mid-January), student dorms and halls of residence are open to paying visitors. Choices include LSE Vacations, whose eight halls include Bankside House and High Holborn Residence. King’s Venues handles six residences, including the centrally located Great Dover St Apartments and Stamford St Apartments.

Rates & Booking

Deluxe hotel rooms cost from around £350 per double, but there’s good variety at the top end, so you should find a room from about £200 offering superior comfort without the prestige. Some boutique hotels also occupy this bracket. There’s a noticeable dip in quality below this price, with notable exceptions. Under £100 and you’re at the more serviceable, budget end of the market. Look out for weekend deals that can put a better class of hotel within reach. Rates often slide in winter. Book directly through the hotel website for the best online deals or promotional rates. Hostelling International (HI) members net discounts on YHA accommodation.

Need to Know

Reservations

  • For the best prices, book as far in advance as possible, especially for weekends and holidays.
  • Prices tend to peak at weekends except for business-orientated City hotels, where prices usually drop on weekend nights.
  • Most hotels match prices on booking sites if you book directly, and doing so may come with perks such as free breakfast or later checkout.

Tax

Value-added tax (VAT; 20%) is added to hotel rooms. Hotels almost always include VAT in their advertised rates.

Checking In & Out

Check-in is usually 2pm, though most places will let you check in earlier if your room is available, or at the very least let you leave your luggage. Check-out is usually between 10am and noon.

Breakfast

Breakfast may be included in the room rate. Often this is a continental breakfast; a cooked breakfast might cost extra.